Dismiss Modal

A man hurting his wife or girlfriend is a common picture of domestic abuse, but it's far from the only one. Domestic abuse happens any time one person in a marriage or intimate relationship tries to dominate and control the other. Here are five facts about domestic abuse and how to get help if it happens to you.

1) Domestic abuse is more than just physical or sexual violence. Abuse can be emotional, where an abuser insults, blames or threatens their partner. It can even involve trying to control a partner's finances.

2) Both women and men can be victims. People of all ages, backgrounds and incomes can be affected. And it can happen in any sexual relationship — gay, straight, or otherwise.

3) There are many warning signs of abuse. Victims of domestic abuse often feel afraid of their partner — like they have to walk on eggshells around them. People who are abused might work hard to avoid making their partner angry, or they may avoid certain topics that seem to be triggers for their partner's abuse.

Even if someone isn't violent, it's still abuse if they:

  • Put their partner down or yell at their partner.
  • Threaten their partner.
  • Try to control what their partner does or constantly checks up on their partner.
  • Keep their partner from seeing friends or family.
  • Limit their partner's access to money, the internet, a phone or a car.
  • Blame their partner for their outbursts.

A loved one who is being abused might have frequent injuries that they call "accidents." There are many other warning signs too. Your loved one might seem afraid or anxious about making their partner happy. They might also get harassing calls or texts from their partner or have to check in often with their partner when they aren't home.

4) Abuse is never the victim's fault. Abusers often blame their victims. They may say the victim "caused" the abuser to do or say something hurtful. But abusers are capable of controlling themselves. It's not the victim's responsibility to prevent or fix their partner's behavior.

5) Help is available. It can take time to work up the courage to leave an abusive relationship. If you are in an abusive relationship, talk with someone you trust who can help you find a safe place to go. If you suspect a loved one is being abused, share your concerns in a safe, private place. Talking in person is better than texting or emailing.

If you don't know who to turn to, call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (800-799-7233) . An operator can help you find the closest domestic violence center — and you never have to pay.