Signs of Domestic Abuse: Common Red Flags and How to Get Help

Domestic Violence in the United States

According to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report, intimate partner violence accounts for 18 percent of all murders where the offender is known. For this reason among others, many consider domestic violence a big issue. Here are some statistics, provided by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).

  • Every minute, almost 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States.
  • One in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence by an intimate partner.
  • Domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 calls every day.
  • One in seven women and one in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner to the point of fearing harm or death.

Signs of Domestic Abuse

Abusers come in all shapes and sizes. They can be a neighbor, pastor, friend, teacher or colleague, and may have no criminal past. According to the Office on Women’s Health, here are some behaviors that indicate someone may be abusing their intimate partner:

  • Does this person monitor their partner’s activity and isolate them from friends, family, work or school?
  • Are there constant, unfair accusations of unfaithfulness?
  • Does this person preside insistently over where their partner goes? Do they control their partner’s money, medications, clothing, food, etc.?
  • Do they embarrass their partner in public?
  • Do they threaten the safety of loved ones, children or pets?
  • Gas lighting. Do they claim the partner is to blame for violence or is upset over “nothing”?
  • Manipulative threats. Do they threaten self-harm if the partner were to leave?
  • Physical or sexual violence. Do they ever hit or shove their partner, or cause other physical harm?

It can be tough to discern an abusive situation. Look out for frequent bruises, unexplained absences from work, unexplained withdrawal from friends and loved ones and a sense that they are checking in with a spouse out of fear.

How to Get Help

If you are in a domestic abuse situation, there are things you can do to stay safe. Seek help from a trusted friend, family member or colleague. Keep important documents nearby, like your driver’s license and a source of cash, in case you have to leave quickly. You can call the National Domestic Violence hotline, 24/7, at 1-800-799-7233 to reach an advocate who can identify resources in your community.

If you suspect someone you know is being abused, don’t ignore the situation. Toby D. Goldsmith, MD, writes on PsychCentral that victims of domestic violence may wrongly believe they deserve or are responsible for the abuse, and thus not report it. So approach this person with an open, non-judgmental attitude. The NCADV suggests asking about a safety plan instead of pushing them to leave. Become a confidante and offer to store emergency items in your home (e.g., ID, bank account numbers, credit cards, prescriptions and phone numbers). You can find more advice on the NCADV resource page.

Your ADP MyLifeAdvisor can also provide confidential assistance. Specialists are available to help guide you with domestic violence and legal issues. Help is available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. ET. Support is available in English and Spanish, and we also offer language line support. Just call 1-844-554-1802 and mention your affiliation with ADP TotalSource.

Now that you know the warning signs of domestic abuse, take a moment to think about the people in your life. If there’s someone you’re concerned about, start a conversation and let them know that you’re available to them. If you are in a relationship you know or suspect is abusive, reach out to a trusted confidante or trained advocate.

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