How to Recognize Signs of Spousal Abuse in a Loved One

Abuse primarily happens behind closed doors.

Victims of spousal abuse may hide the fact for a variety of reasons.

A large majority of people think of domestic violence only in terms of extreme physical assault, but this is a dangerous myth.

Between these three factors, it’s not always easy to tell when someone you love is experiencing domestic violence at the hands of their spouse. 

Every relationship is different, and domestic violence signs don’t always look the same, but knowing what signs to look out for very well could save the life of your loved one.

Today we’re going to discuss the signs to look out for in a family member or friend if you suspect they are suffering from spousal abuse.

What is considered spousal abuse?

Spousal abuse — also referred to as domestic abuse, domestic violence or intimate partner violence — can be defined as any behavior in a relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over a spouse.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, psychological or emotional, and can be characterized as any form of behavior that: 

  • Frightens
  • Manipulates
  • Humiliates
  • Terrorizes
  • Hurts
  • Intimidates
  • Blames
  • Injures someone

Spousal abuse can happen to both men and women of all ages, races and within all religions; it affects people of all backgrounds and does not discriminate against financial or societal class.

Effects of spousal abuse

The effects of domestic violence can varyper person due to their individual responses to trauma as well as the frequency and severity of the abuse, but there are some effects that are common.

Effects of spousal abuse include:

  • Mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Increased drug or alcohol use
  • Substance or behavioral addictions (such as gambling)
  • Low self-esteem and self-sabotaging behavior
  • Suicidal thoughts or attempts

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by dialing 988. 

The effects of spousal abuse can range in severity, making it sometimes difficult to identify if a loved one is being abused by their partner, or perhaps just going through a naturally challenging phase of life.

That’s why it’s important to be able to recognize domestic violence signs.

Signs of spousal abuse

The exact signs of spousal abuse can be different per situation, but there are some signs that are common; these are what we’ll share with you below.

Common domestic violence signs include:

  • Physical signs of assault (such as bruises, black eyes, busted lips, sprained wrists)
  • Drastic changes in sleep habits (such as barely sleeping or excessive sleeping)
  • Consuming excessive drugs or alcohol
  • Seeming fearful, timid or extremely apologetic
  • Isolation from family and friends

Some of the subtler signs of spousal abuse include:

  • The partner insisting on accompanying your loved one everywhere
  • The partner frequently exhibiting gaslighting or manipulating tactics
  • The relationship has been through multiple breakups and makeups
  • Your loved one being overly eager to please their partner despite warning signs you have detected
  • Your loved one becomes overly defensive or protective of their partner (often out of fear) if you bring up your concerns

If you suspect someone you love is suffering from spousal abuse, seek help immediately.

Get help for domestic violence

When someone you love is suffering from domestic violence, it can be difficult and overwhelming to know what to do or say — right now, all you need to do is send us a message.

Domestic abuse is never something to be taken lightly, and being able to recognize the signs and reach out for professional support very well could save your loved one’s life.

Here at Mazzitti & Sullivan Counseling, we offer a variety of mental health and counseling services that cover every individual’s full-spectrum of needs. For your convenience, we offer our services both in-person and virtually.

Our expert staff combine evidence-based practices with goal-based therapy in order to create treatment plans that are both effective, convenient, and long-lasting. In order to serve you in the best way possible, we offer our services both in-person and virtually, to meet you where you are.

To learn more about how we can help your loved one, call us today at 800-809-2925.