Is It Abuse?

If you are in immediate danger or feel unsafe, call 911.

YWCA 24-Hour Confidential Helpline
616.454.YWCA (616.454.9922)

There are many signs of an abusive relationship, but the main one is fear of your partner. Domestic abuse is a pattern of controlling behaviors that can include physical assaults, sexual assaults, emotional abuse, isolation, threats, stalking, and intimidation. These behaviors are used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Domestic abuse is the term used to describe this pattern of controlling behavior when it occurs within an intimate partner relationship.

Domestic abuse happens within every social, economic, ethnic, and religious sector. The partners may be married or not married, heterosexual or LGBTQ, living together, separated or dating, teens or adults.

Tell-Tale Signs of Abusive Behavior

  • Does your partner ever push or shove you?
  • Have they ever put their hands on your throat?
  • Do they ever follow or stalk you?
  • Do they restrict you from family or friends?
  • Do they monitor your phone calls?
  • Do they interfere with your school or job?
  • Do they threaten to hurt you, themselves, or others?
  • Do they put you down or call you names?
  • Do they blame you for their problems or mistakes?
  • Do they ever use scripture to justify abusive behavior?
  • Do they ever restrict you from your church or faith traditions?
  • Do they try to isolate you from your faith support system?
  • Does your partner intimidate you so that you are afraid to say “no” to sex?
  • Does your partner want to have sex after they beat you?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex or perform sexual acts against your will?
  • Does your partner force you to have sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases?
  • Does your partner hurt you physically during sex by assaulting sexual parts of your body?
  • Does your partner treat you like a sex object or call you sexually degrading names?
  • Does your partner force you to view pornography?

These questions can help you be aware of signs of life-threatening danger.

  • Have you seen a change in their behavior lately?
  • Have they ever threatened to kill you, the children, or themselves?
  • Do they own a gun or other weapons?
  • Have they ever mutilated or killed a pet?
  • Is there sexual violence or rape in the relationship?
  • Do they think you are their property to do with as they please?
  • Have they ever taken you or the children hostage?
  • Do they know you are leaving or is divorce pending?
  • Have they ever put their hands on your throat?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, call the YWCA at