Am I being Abused?

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.

Does your partner…

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? 
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove, or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets? 
  • Call you several times when you are away from them or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? 
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, lock you out, or leave you stranded somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson?”

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act.
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior.
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Do You Think Your Partner Might Be Abusive?

The following signs often occur before the manifestation of full abuse and may serve as red flags to indicate the future of the relationship. Think about the following questions and apply them to your partner. If you can identify with one or more of the scenarios or answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may be with an abusive partner.

Does your partner…

  • Did your partner grow up in a violent family?
  • Does your partner tend to use the force of violence to “solve” their problems?
  • Does your partner have a quick temper? Do they overreact to little problems and frustration? Are they cruel to animals? Do they punch walls or throw things when they are upset?
  • Do they abuse alcohol or other drugs?
  • Do they have strong traditional ideas about “roles” in relationships? For example, do they think all women should stay home, care for their husbands, and follow their wishes and orders?
  • Are they jealous of your other relationships — anyone you may know? Do they keep tabs on you? Do they want to know where you are at all times? Do they want you with them all of the time? 
  • Do they have access to guns, knives, or other lethal weapons? Do they talk of using them against people or threaten to use them to get even?
  • Do they expect you to follow their orders or advice? Do they become angry if you do not fulfil their wishes or if you cannot anticipate what they want?
  • Do they go through extreme highs and lows almost as though they are two different people? Are they extremely kind one time, and extremely cruel another?
  • When your partner gets angry, do you fear them? Do you find that not making them angry has become a major part of your life? Do you do what they want you to do, rather than what you want to do?
  • Do they treat you roughly? Do they physically force you to do what you do not want to do?
  • Do they threaten or abuse your pets?

Threats and physical abuse are prevalent in relationship violence, often occurring in an escalating cycle. 


National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Relationship Violence and Culture

Societal and cultural factors contribute to perpetuating violent relationships. Below is a diagram that depicts some of how this is done.

A violent relationship, shown at the center of the wheel, exists within the larger environment of society and culture.

It is important to acknowledge the cultural norms that victims bring with them. These norms dictate how they may experience domestic violence and how they may react to it. People who live in rural communities may adhere to strong values of independence that prevent them from seeking help from “outsiders” or urban programs. People of color may adhere to a code developed through historical experience that has taught them not to trust the “white” culture and the formal systems it offers for assistance (e.g., the criminal justice system, the social service system, and domestic violence programs). Elderly people may have been conditioned not to discuss “personal” issues with strangers and are therefore reluctant to use “self-help” programs that require people to disclose abusive experiences. When people in same-sex relationships disclose domestic violence, they risk exposure to societal norms that condemn them as “evil” and expose them to hate crimes.