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Who is at risk to be in an abusive relationship?

Anyone can be the victim of abuse and anyone can be abusive. It can happen regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You might also blame yourself for what is happening. Regardless of the circumstances it is not your fault, no one ever deserves to be abused.

Signs of an abusive relationship

If your partner…

  • Tells you that you don’t do anything right
  • Shows jealousy of your family or friends
  • Insults, demeans or shames you
  • Controls money
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Destroys your property
  • Threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
Why do people abuse?

Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationship, so they use abusive tactics to make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.

"Why don't they just leave?"

People who have never been abused often wonder why a person wouldn’t just leave an abusive relationship. They don’t understand that leaving can be more complicated than it seems. Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous time for a person. Here are just a few reasons why someone may stay in an abusive relationship:

  • Fear
  • Believing abuse is normal
  • Fear of being outed
  • Embarrassment or shame
  • Low self-esteem
  • Love
  • No knowledge of their rights
  • Cultural/religious reasons
  • Language barriers/immigration status
  • Lack of money/resources
  • Disability
None available.
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National Coalition Against Domestic Violence The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence