Some Common Signs Of Abuse

Here’s a follow-up to my column last week on the violent relationship depicted in the hit song Love The Way You Lie.

The song, a graphic depiction of a violent relationship, is extremely popular with young people right now. So if you are a teenager or young adult and you suspect someone you know may be involved in an abusive relationship, there is a way you can do something about it without causing any drama.

The Domestic Violence Action Center has a Teen Alert Program that can help get information to your friend. It offers intervention as well as violence prevention information and workshops. The website is

Go visit the site. You might be able to help a friend. And here is some information that might be of use to anyone wondering if someone they know is in a violent and/or emotionally abusive relationship. The list of the warning signs is from Safe Place at Michigan State University:

Injuries and Excuses: Bruises and injuries may occur frequently and be in obvious places. When this happens, the intent of the batterer is to keep the victim isolated and trapped at home. The person being battered doesn’t want to explain black eyes or other bruising and may call in sick to work, or face the embarrassment and excuses of how the injuries occurred. In other cases, bruises and other outward injuries never occur. When there are frequent injuries seen by others, the one being battered may talk about being clumsy, or have elaborate stories of how the injuries occurred.

Absences from Work or School: If you see this happening, or if the person is frequently late, this could be a sign of relationship violence)occurring.

Low Self-Esteem: Be careful with this one. Some battered women have low self-esteem, but not all. Others have a great deal of confidence and esteem in other areas of their life (at work, as a mother, with hobbies, etc.) but not within their relationship. In terms of dealing with the relationship, a battered woman may feel powerless and believe that she could not make it on her own without her partner and that she is lucky to have him in her life.

Accusations of Having Affairs: This is a common tactic used by batterers as an attempt to isolate their partners and as an excuse for a beating. It could include accusations of looking at other men, wanting to be with other men or having affairs with the man bagging groceries at the local supermarket. Friends of the couple may observe this at times, but what is seen in public is usually only a small fraction of what the battered woman experiences at home.

Personality Changes: People may notice that a very outgoing person, for instance, becomes quiet and shy around his/her partner. This happens because the one being battered “walks on eggshells” when in the presence of the one who is abusive to her. Accusations (of flirting, talking too loudly, or telling the wrong story to someone) have taught the abused person that it is easier to act a certain way around the batterer than to experience additional accusations in the future.

Fear of Conflict: As a result of being battered, some may generalize the experience of powerlessness with other relationships. Conflicts with co-workers, friends, relatives and neighbors can create a lot of anxiety. For many, it is easier to give in to whatever someone else wants than to challenge it.

Not Knowing What One Wants or How One Feels: For adults or children who have experienced violence from a loved one, the ability to identify feelings and wants, and to express them, may not exist. This could result in passive-aggressive behavior. Rather than telling others what you want, you say one thing but then express your anger or frustration in an aggressive manner (such as scratching his favorite car, burning dinner,or not completing a report on time for your boss or teacher).

Blaming Others: The abuse, which usually includes the batterer blaming others for everything that goes wrong, is usually targeted at a partner or ex-partner. For example, a simple drive somewhere could turn into a violent situation if the batterer blames the partner and/or children for getting them lost. Co-workers and relatives may observe this type of behavior, and it may be directed at others as well.

Self-blame: You may notice someone taking all of the blame for things that go wrong. If you notice this happening a lot, it may be a sign that one who is taking all of the blame is being battered.

Aggressive or Care-taking Behavior in Children: Children who live in violent homes may take that experience with them to school and to the playground. Often the class bully is a child who sees violence in his home (directed at mom, or at some or all of the children in the home). Children who seem very grown up and are sensitive and attentive to others’needs may see violence at home as well.

It’s so important to get help if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship. Go to If it’s an emergency, call 911.

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