Domestic Violence / Abuse Victims

Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, or strength. The problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied, especially when the abuse is psychological. Emotional abuse is often trivialized, but it can have deep and lasting negative effects.

It is important to notice and acknowledge early warning signs of domestic violence and abuse. This is the first step to ending it.


Am I in an abusive relationship?

Many people have difficulty admitting they are being abused, often because they are ashamed or fearful of their partner, or they believe the behavior will change. While this is not an exclusive list, these are some signs that you may be in an abusive relationship. If you answer yes to any of these questions or are uncertain how to answer the questions, please contact a CAPS clinician or another mental health provider for further support.

Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings

    Do you:
  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can't do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you're the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless?

Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior

    Does your partner:
  • humiliate or yell at you?
  • criticize you and put you down?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

    Does your partner:
  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

    Does your partner:
  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?
(Adapted from Helpguide.org: “Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships”)

What do I do if I am being abused?

There are a number of resources available to you. First of all, ensure your safety, and if you feel your safety is in danger, call 911 immediately.

It may be helpful to get support from your friends and family. Although this is not an easy topic to share with your loved ones, asking for help is a sign of courage and strength.

Find a safe place. It is not fair that you may have to leave your residence because of what your abuser has done, but safety is your first priority. Keep a personalized safety plan with important information and resources to keep you safe in case of an emergency.

Call to schedule an initial consultation at CAPS or with another mental health provider in the community. These professionals are trained to provide you with the best help possible without judging you. To find out more about scheduling an appointment at CAPS, visit our FAQ page.


How do I know if my family member or loved one are in an abusive relationship?

While it may not be easy to tell if your family member or loved one is being abused, warning signs are often present to those closest to the victim. Below is a list of potential warning signs. Just because your family member or loved one is not exhibiting these behaviors does not mean he/she is not in an abusive relationship. If you have any reason to believe that your loved one is being abused, please consider consulting with CAPS or another mental health provider immediately.

Does your family member or loved one:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner?
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does?
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing?
  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner?
  • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness?
  • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents?”
  • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation?
  • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors)?
  • Seem restricted from seeing family and friends?
  • Rarely go out in public without their partner?
  • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car?
  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident?
  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)?
  • Seem depressed, anxious, or suicidal?

(Adapted from Helpguide.org: “Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships”)


What do I do if I know or suspect domestic violence or abuse?

Speak up! It is easy to tell yourself that it is none of your business or that the person does not wish to talk about the relationship, but ignoring the problems could be fatal. Please keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know you care, and maybe even encourage him/her to seek help.

If you are unsure of how to talk to someone regarding their relationship, please feel free to consult with a CAPS clinician. Together, you can decide how to approach the situation to get the best results.

Remember – accepting help can be difficult. If a person is reluctant at first, do not give up. You could save his/her life.


Additional Resources