Signs Of Domestic Violence You Should Know

Updated October 4, 2022 by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence which could potentially be triggering. If you or someone you know is or may be experiencing abuse, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) or text "START" to 88788. Live chat is also available on the National Domestic Violence Hotline website.

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Many people hear the term 'domestic violence,' and automatically think of physical abuse but the truth is there are several different types of domestic violence. It can be physical, but it can also be emotional, psychological, digital, financial or sexual. Any of these types of domestic violence can be just as damaging to the victim as any of the others and that's why it's so important to understand them and to seek help. Here we'll talk about the signs of domestic violence so you can understand how it affects you and others.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Physical

There are some signs of physical abuse, and while most of them seem self-explanatory (such as hitting, kicking, shoving, slapping or using weapons to inflict harm), there are other things that fall under this category as well. A partner or other individual who controls what and when you can eat or sleep, forces you to use drugs or alcohol or keeps you from seeking treatment when you need it, whether from the police, medical or anyone else, is also physically abusing you.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Emotional

Emotional abuse is categorized by someone who makes you feel a certain way. For example, they may make you feel bad about yourself or insult you, criticize you or humiliate you. They may act jealous or possessive, withhold affection as a punishment or lie to you. They may also intentionally cheat to inflict pain or to serve as a type of punishment. These types of actions affect the way you feel about yourself and cause you to feel even more dependent on them even though they make you feel worse.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Psychological

This one is often confused with emotional abuse, but it's very different. In this type of abuse, the abuser may threaten to hurt you or those you care about (including other family, children or pets). They may control what you can do and with who may control what you wear or even make you question your reality. They may also blame you for your abuse, making you feel like if you did better, you would be able to stop them from 'having to' do it in the first place. They may also steel or damage your belongings.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Sexual & Reproductive

An abuser may force you to perform different sexual acts that you don't want to or simply when you don't want to. They may demand sex or harm you during sex through physical means such as hitting or choking. These abusers may force you to watch pornography or other degrading images or may insult you in sexual ways or regarding sexual aspects. This also carries into reproductive abuse where the abuser may refuse to allow you the use of birth control or may refuse to use birth control themselves. They may sabotage your efforts not to get pregnant or force you to get pregnant. They may force you to get (or not get) an abortion.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Financial

Financial abuse tends to occur when the abuser does not allow you access to financial accounts, provides you with only a set amount of money or forces you to ask for the things that you want. They may refuse to help with shared expenses or may even steal your money or use money that you have without your permission. They may tell you what you can and can't buy or watch the way that you spend your money.

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Signs Of Domestic Violence - Digital

Sending you threats via digital means, such as text messages, emails or social media or even tracking you through these means are signs of digital abuse. Demanding access to your phone or other devices so that they can monitor your calls, texts, history, pictures or anything else is another form of this type of abuse. Punishing you for not answering their calls or texts or requiring you to be available via your phone constantly is also characteristic here. Any method that uses digital technology to keep track of you or to control you is digital domestic violence.

Signs Of Domestic Violence - Stalking

Someone who follows you or spies on you, whether by physically following you or using social media or any other means to follow you are stalking. They may send you packages or letters or even text messages that you don't want and have requested them not to send. They may continue to call you at home or even at your place of work even after you have told them not to do so. These individuals continue to follow and monitor your every move no matter where you go.

What You Should Know

It's important to note that these types of domestic violence can occur in any combination and they may not occur with a romantic partner. It could be a friendship that has turned into a domestic violence situation or even a complete stranger, especially in the case of stalking or digital abuse. Getting help when you believe you are the victim of domestic violence is extremely important and involves not only the police but psychological help as well.

The trauma of experiencing domestic violence is something that can continue to affect you for a very long time, even after you think you've overcome it. Symptoms can occur long after the event is over and could make it difficult for you to enter into any relationship or trust another person. It's important to seek help, like that at BetterHelp, to help you to heal from what you've been through. It's also important to note that domestic violence can take many different forms.


If your partner is forcing you to do or not do anything that you want for yourself, you may be in a domestic violence situation. Talking with a professional and with the authorities can help you understand what you're going through and what your options are.

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