Women's Center against domestic violence

Signs of Abuse

Spotting the signs of abuse in a relationship isn’t always a simple process because there are many different types of abuse that can affect women, children and even men regardless of age, race, religion or financial background.

However, there are some common characteristics among most abusers that you can spot, if you know what to look for.

How to Spot an Abuser

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  • Abusers often deny the existence of any violence, or attempt to minimize the seriousness of their actions and the effects on the victim.
  • Abusers may objectify their victims, treating them as nothing more than property or a sexual object.
  • Abusers have low self-esteem and seek to put others beneath them through physical or verbal abuse, rather than lifting themselves and others up.
  • Abusers never take responsibility for their actions. They will blame their violence and abuse on their victims, or outside factors such as alcohol, financial restrains or even a “bad day” at work.
  • Abusers never show their true selves outside of the relationship, often appearing kind or charming to others.

 

Red Flags and Warning Signs of an Abuser

Many abusers are experts at hiding their behaviors from the world, which is why many victims face doubt and skepticism when they try to come forward.  Some people simply cannot believe that someone they know, who seems so friendly and charismatic, could be capable of such terrible acts.

Look for these common warning signs and characteristics to help you identify a potential abuser.
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  • Severe jealousy
  • Possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • Name calling, insults or disparaging language (verbal abuse)
  • Explosive temper
  • Extremely controlling and manipulative behavior
  • Antiquated beliefs about roles of women and men in relationships
  • Forced sex or disregard of their partner’s unwillingness to have sex
  • Sabotage or refusal of birth control methods
  • Animal cruelty or abuse
  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
  • Obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
  • Controlling all the finances
  • Accusations of the victim flirting with others or having an affair
  • Dictating what the victim wears and how they act
  • Stalking, in person or online
  • Demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
  • Embarrassing or humiliating the victim in front of others
  • Harassment of the victim at work
  • Abuse of other family members, children or pets

If you think that you or someone you know may be in an abuse relationship, call our 24-Hour Hotline at 412-687-8005 ext. 1 or toll free 877-388-TALK (8225) for help or more information. Download the RUSafe app to assess whether you or a loved one may be in a dangerous relationship.