5 signs you're in an abusive relationshipMany women don't even realize what their partner's doing counts as abuse.
Every woman deserves to feel safe in her relationship -- which is why the New York City Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence recently launched a campaign to help women identify the signs of domestic abuse and seek help if they experience any of them.
"Broken, threatened, put-down, scared, intimidated, manipulated, humiliated, battered," read the new signs. "If you feel ANY of these in your relationship, that's abuse." The campaign, called "That's Abuse," will appear in subways, bus shelters, grocery store circulars, at city agencies, and throughout certain neighborhoods.
"Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors where one person aims to control the other in a relationship," says Yolanda B. Jimenez, commissioner of the NYC Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence. "And that can start to manifest itself in emotional abuse or verbal abuse." Also scary? In many relationships, verbal or emotional abuse can eventually escalate to physical violence, says Jimenez.
Women's Health: The Shocking Truth About Domestic Violence
Of course, it's not always so clear-cut when you're in a dangerous relationship: What's the difference between something kind of hurtful your partner said in the heat of the moment but didn't really mean, for example, and something that actually constitutes abuse? Here's how to tell if your partner is veering into harmful territory:
Your partner isolates you from family and friends
Abusive behaviors oftentimes come down to control, says Jimenez. One way an abuser might wield it: by dictating who you see and separating you from the people you care about, says Jimenez.
Your partner keeps tabs on you
A partner who checks in on you frequently might just be considerate. "But it's not healthy when someone is trying to control your every move on any given day and wanting to know where you are at every juncture," says Jimenez. "It's not normal in a relationship for someone to say, 'Where were you at 10? Where were you at 11? What did you do at 12? Who did you see? Who did you talk to?"
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Your partner peer pressures you
Peer pressure can be another form of control, says Jimenez -- it's making you do something you wouldn't do on your own. So if a partner regularly insists that you do something because everyone else is doing it, that could be a sign of abuse.
Your partner finds fault in everything you do
"Putting you down and making you feel -- as we highlight in our poster -- broken, threatened, and even intimidated," says Jimenez, that's another way an abuser might try to show he or she is in charge. "If you're told every day that you're no good, that you're worthless, you start to believe that."
Your partner humiliates you
It's not right for a partner to call you names and insult you. And it's also not right for him or her to purposely say something in front of your family or friends that will clearly hurt and embarrass you. If that's happening, "it's part of that unhealthy relationship, that (idea of), 'I will decide how you feel and how others feel about you by putting you down,'" says Jimenez.
Women's Health: How to Recognize If You're in an Abusive Relationship
If you are experiencing or think you might be experiencing domestic abuse, you can call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233).
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