Recognizing signs of an abusive relationship

The American Counseling Association
Special to Village News

It’s an unfortunate situation, and one that happens all too frequently that people get trapped in an unhealthy and abusive relationship. And while it sometimes is the man who is being abused, in over 90 percent of reported cases it is the woman who is being victimized.

Abusive relationships aren’t always about physical abuse. It also includes sexual and emotional abuse. And while it’s pretty clear that if someone hits, pushes, slaps or shakes the other person that abuse is taking place, abuse in other forms is just as real, often more damaging and actually more frequent than physical abuse. Signs of such abuse include forcing sex when it’s not wanted, name calling and constant put-downs, frequently checking up on what the person is doing, maintaining total control over money, making threats to kill you if you leave, threatening the children, threatening pets and keeping you isolated from your family and friends.

Experts report that these forms of sexual and emotional abuse are more common than physical abuse and can even be much more damaging as they destroy the victim’s self-esteem.

While correcting or leaving such a relationship can be difficult, and even sometimes dangerous, there is help available. Today, battered women’s shelters are available in many communities. Staffed by caring volunteers and professionals, such shelters work hard to help victims find safety and peace in their lives. Shelters provide temporary housing, meals, clothing and safety. Many shelters also provide medical care, child care, counseling, job training and transitional housing.

Fortunately, there is a much wider recognition of the abuse problem. A starting point for many victims of abuse is a phone call to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233. They can offer confidential information, support and resources for victims of abuse. They also offer assistance for someone who recognizes that their behaviors may be harmful to a partner.

No one should stay in an abusive relationship. If you’re in such a relationship, call the hotline or contact a shelter if there is one in your town. If you know of a friend or relative who may be the victim of an abusive relationship, let them know that you’re there to listen and be supportive without being judgmental. Let them know there are options and encourage them to get help before their situation becomes worse.

Counseling Corner is provided by the American Counseling Association. Send comments and questions to [email protected] or visit the ACA website at

One Response to "Recognizing signs of an abusive relationship"

  1. S.V.   September 12, 2017 at 6:34 pm

    As a former target of an abuser, I can tell you that this all sounds good. Until it happens to you, you really shouldn’t be giving any bad advice to battered women. The United States has more shelters for abused animals than for battered women and children. The shelters are like prisons and totally suck. What battered women need is cash to rent an apartment away from their abuser and rental assistance til they find a job, and childcare. The sad part about reporting abuse to the police is that the police never believe the battered woman, and neither does the district attorney. The punishment for beating a stranger in a drunken brawl at a bar is way more harsh than the punishment for beating a girlfriend, or a spouse. Go figure.. And a call to the cops will certainly ensure a call to CPS against the battered woman for “failure to protect the children.” Totally ridiculous and completely unfair stupid policy and common practice of any police department. The battered woman and kids are the ones who are punished by the call to CPS, while the batterer never has any accountability or charges that stick. Hence the system sucks and that is why women should never call the cops if they are being abused. All too often, CPS turns against the battered woman blaming her for the abuse, even though CPS workers won’t go talk to the batterer without six cops present. So calling any of the hotlines is a very bad idea if a woman is experiencing abuse. Sorry, but I know from personal experience that this is very terrible advice.


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