Recognizing and Responding to Abuse

More than likely, someone you know has been or will be a victim of intimate partner violence. Maybe someone in your office.  Or your school. Or your neighborhood. Or…

Learn to recognize the signs of abuse. It just might save a life.

These signs may indicate abuse. The presence of one or more indidicators is not, in itself, proof that abuse is occurring:

  • Their partner insults them or puts them down, even in front of others
  • They’re constantly making excuses for their partner’s behavior
  • They seem isolated; they’ve stopped talking to friends and family
  • Their personality ha changed. They seem depressed or anxious
  • They have unexplained marks or injuries. Any explanations don’t quite make sense
  • Their partner seems jealous and possessive
  • They’re extremely worried about making their partner upset
  • They don’t have access to finances or other important documents
  • Their self-esteem has suffered after meeting their partner

If someone you know may be in an abusive relationship, there are ways you can help.

First, remember that abuse is about power and control. Don’t try to force them to do something that they’re not ready to do- it may come across as another instance of abuse to someone currently going through something similar. Instead, do whatever you can to empower them and make their own decisions.

Some things you can do are:

  • Listen, be supportive. Resist the urge to tell them what to do, but make sure they know you believe them and support them no matter what they decide
  • Don’t judge if they stay in the relationship. They have their reasons
  • Encourage them to get help. They can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or chat on their website at If they have concerns about their security or need help to develop a safety plan, they can visit
  • Understand that even after the relationship ends, they’ll need support. They may even feel as though they miss their partner. Be with them as they mourn
  • Give them space and time, but make sure they know you’re always there for them when they’re ready