What is Abuse?

Domestic and sexual violence can take many forms—physical abuse, mental abuse, sexual assault, verbal threatening or neglect—and can affect anyone at any time: friends, coworkers, relatives, children, teens, men and women. By acknowledging the existence of domestic and sexual violence, stalking and harassment in our communities, we can raise awareness of the problem and enable both victims and witnesses to take action to break the cycle of violence.

Think about your relationship-With your spouse, girlfriend, boyfriend, parent, or sibling..

  • Do you feel nervous around any of these people?
  • Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid their anger?
  • Do you feel pressured by them when it comes to sex?
  • Are you scared of disagreeing with them?
  • Do they criticize you, or humiliate you in front of other people?
  • Are they always checking up or questioning you about what you do without them?
  • Do they repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?
  • Do they tell you that if you changed they wouldn’t abuse you?
  • Does their jealousy stop you from seeing friends or family?
  • Do they make you feel like you are wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate?
  • Have they ever scared you with violence or threatening behavior?
  • Do you often do things to please them, rather than to please yourself?
  • Do they prevent you from going out or doing things you want to do?
  • Do you feel that, with them, nothing you do is ever good enough?
  • Do they say that they will kill or hurt themselves if you break up with them?
  • Do they make excuses for their behavior, for example, by saying it’s because of alcohol or drugs, or because they can’t control their temper, or that they were “just joking?”

You might have answered “yes” to some of these questions, but still think “it’s not that bad.” But feeling scared, humiliated, pressured, or controlled is not the way you should feel in a relationship. You should feel loved, respected, and free to be yourself. And, you can’t make people in your life change their behavior or continue to make excuses for their behavior… they are the ones who have to change their attitude and accept responsibility for abusing you. It’s not your fault if you are being abused. You deserve to be treated with respect.

Think about your relationship – do you feel respected?

Abuse Continuum
  1. Falling in love quickly
  2. Jealousy / possessiveness
  3. Over-interest in your daily activities
  4. Wants to be part of everything you are doing
  5.  Texting / calling repeatedly
  6.  Showing up at your work
  7. Insulting your interests / capabilities
  8. Insulting family / friends
  9. Limiting contact with family / friends
  10. Mind games
  11. Name calling
  12. Put downs
  13. Spreading rumors about you
  14. Focusing blame on you
  15. Treating you like a servant / child
  16. Giving you an allowance
  17. Threatening legal action
  18. Holds rigid gender roles
  19. Making household / relationship rules
  20. Looks and intimidating body language
  21. Pressuring you for physical or sexual contact
  22. Preventing you from leaving rooms
  23. Punching holes / throwing things
  24. Controlling medications
  25. Encouraging illegal activity
  26. Threats to hurt self
  27. Pet abuse
  28. Choking or Strangulation


Unhealthy Relationship Checklist
  • Causes intense emotional pain
  • Makes gestures that are meant to frighten or intimidate
  • Threatens to harm self or others
  • Accuses you of infidelity
  • Constantly criticizes the other partner
  • Uses the children as pawns in legal battles
  • Always gets the “Silent Treatment”
  • Mocks the others moral/spiritual values
  • Makes fun of others faith
  • Threatens to make false reports of abuse to DCYF/Police
  • Ignores court directives such as restraining orders, division of property
  • Withholds necessary medication
  • Forces the other to use drugs or alcohol
  • Refuse to let their partner seek treatment for injuries
  • Refuses to take “no” for an answer to wanting sex
  • Has forced the other to have unprotected sex
  • Belittles the other partner
  • Acts jealous or possessive
  • Makes all the decisions
  • Physical abuse: spit, grab, pinch, shove, slap, hit, pull hair, headbutt, bite, twist arms or fingers, kick, punch, choke or smother, restrain the other from leaving, burn, hit with objects, stab, shoots or shoots at partner
  • Follows the other, causing them to be fearful
  • Tracks mileage on the others car odometer
  • Checks phone bills for unrecognized or “forbidden” phone numbers
  • Partner has threatened “If I can’t have you, no one can!” or “Death before divorce!” or other such statements indicating his/her ownership of the other
  • Separation causes the partner great rage or despair
  • Partner has a lack of concern for legal, social, or personal consequences