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What Is Domestic Abuse?

Recognizing Domestic Abuse Behaviors


Domestic abuse is not always about violence, it is about control. Many victims of domestic abuse have never been physically assaulted.

Many victims of domestic abuse are not aware they are being abused because they do not recognize the controlling behaviors of their partners as abusive. There are many different ways that abusers try to maintain control, some of which may not be obvious as abusive.

The following checklist of behaviors was developed by the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence to help determine if someone is being abused.

Does your partner. . .

Use emotional and psychological control?
  • Call you names, yell, put you down, make racial or homophobic slurs, or constantly criticize or undermine you and your abilities as a wife, partner, or mother?

  • Behave in an overprotective way or become extremely jealous?

  • Make it difficult for you to see family or friends, or "badmouth" your family and friends?

  • Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you want to?

  • Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?

Use economic control?

  • Deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards, or car?

  • Control all the finances, force you to account for what you spend, or take your money?

  • Prevent you from getting or keeping a job or from going to school?

  • Limit your access to health, prescription and/or dental insurance?

Make threats?

  • Threaten to report you to the authorities (the police, courts, or child protective services) for something you didn't do?

  • Threaten to harm or kidnap the children?

  • Make you afraid by using looks, actions or gestures?

  • Display weapons as a way of making you afraid or directly threaten you with weapons?

  • Use anger or "loss of temper" as a threat to get you to do what he wants?

  • Threaten to expose your sexual orientation to friends, family, or employer, if you are gay or lesbian?

  • Threaten to report you to INS or immigration?

Commit acts of physical violence?

  • Carry out threats to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends, or himself?

  • Destroy personal property or throw things around?

  • Grab, push, hit, punch, slap, kick, choke, or bite you?

  • Force you to have sex when you don't want to or to engage in sexual acts that you don't want to do?

  • Prevent you from taking medications or getting medical care?

  • Deny you access to food, fluids or sleep?

The above are common tactics used by abusers to control their partners, but not the only ones. Anything that your partner does to restrict your personal freedom, or that make you afraid, could be a indication of domestic abuse.

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