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Am I being abused?

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Signs of abuse

It can be hard to know if you're being abused. You may think that your husband is allowed to make you have sex. That's not true. Forced sex is rape, no matter who does it. You may think that cruel or threatening words are not abuse. They are. And sometimes emotional abuse is a sign that a person will become physically violent.

Below is a list of possible signs of abuse. Some of these are illegal. All of them are wrong. You may be abused if your partner:

  • Monitors what you're doing all the time
  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time
  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school
  • Gets very angry during and after drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Controls how you spend your money
  • Controls your use of needed medicines
  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)
  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys your property or things that you care about
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets
  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)
  • Uses (or threatens to use) a weapon against you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will
  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you
  • Says things like, "If I can't have you then no one can."

If you think someone is abusing you, get help. Abuse can have serious physical and emotional effects. No one has the right to hurt you.

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Healthy vs. unhealthy relationships

Sometimes a relationship might not be abusive, but it might have some serious problems that make it unhealthy. If you think you might be in an unhealthy relationship, you should be able to talk to your partner about your concerns. If you feel like you can't talk to your partner, try talking to a trusted friend, family member, or counselor. Consider calling a confidential hotline to get the support you need and to explore next steps. If you're afraid to end the relationship, call a hotline for help.

Signs of an unhealthy relationship include:

  • Focusing all your energy on your partner
  • Dropping friends and family or activities you enjoy
  • Feeling pressured or controlled a lot
  • Having more bad times in the relationship than good
  • Feeling sad or scared when with your partner

Signs of a healthy relationship include:

  • Having more good times in the relationship than bad
  • Having a life outside the relationship, with your own friends and activities
  • Making decisions together, with each partner compromising at times
  • Dealing with conflicts by talking honestly
  • Feeling comfortable and able to be yourself
  • Feeling able to take care of yourself
  • Feeling like your partner supports you

If you feel confused about your relationship, a mental health professional can help. Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect.

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Content last updated May 18, 2011.

Resources last updated May 18, 2011.

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