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Domestic Abuse:  It's Not All About Physical Violence

Domestic Abuse can and does happen to anyone, yet the problem is commonly overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is non-physical: such as Emotional, Psychological, Economic or other Financial Abuse. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. There is help available. No one should live in fear of the person they love.

What is Domestic Abuse?

When people think of Domestic Abuse, they often focus on the physical, violent aspect. But Domestic Abuse occurs whenever one person in a relationship or marriage tries to dominate or control the other person. Domestic Abuse is used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Signs of an Abusive


There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most telling sign is fear of your partner. If you feel like you must walk on eggshells, or constantly mind what you say and do to avoid a blow-up, chances are your relationship is unhealthy and abusive. Other signs that you may be in an abusive relationship include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse

Not all abusive relationships involve physical violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being Domestically Abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse or psychological, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, this type of abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.

The aim of emotional or psychological abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence—leaving you feeling that there’s no way out of the relationship, or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.

Emotional and Psychological Abuse includes Verbal Abuse: such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under Domestic Abuse.

Abusers who use emotional or psychological abusive tactics often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want. The scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep.

Economic or Financial Abuse

An abuser’s goal is to control you, and they will frequently use money to do so. Economic or Financial Abuse includes:

  • Controlling your finances

  • Withholding money or credit cards

  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter)

  • Restricting you to an allowance

  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career

  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)

  • Stealing from you or taking your money

Get Help: Recognizing the Domestic Abuse Warning Signs

It's impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some signs and symptoms of Domestic Abuse. If you witness these warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take it very seriously and often, legal help will be ultimately necessary.

People who are being abused may:

  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner

  • Go along with everything their partner says and does

  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they're doing

  • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner

  • Talk about their partner's temper, jealousy, or possessiveness

  • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident

  • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)

  • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal

Isolation. People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

  • Be restricted from seeing family and friends

  • Rarely go out in public without their partner

  • Have limited access to money

, credit cards, or the car

Family law litigation can be emotionally difficult and complex. Decisions made about each step of the litigation can affect you for many years. We have years of experience helping our clients with Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse, and can help you through the process. Contact us today at (253) 838 – 3377 or email at, to talk about your situation.

Disclaimer: All materials provided on this website have been prepared by Bains Law Firm for general information purposes only and no representation is made as to their completeness or accuracy. Information on this website is not intended as legal advice, and may not be relied upon as such. Only an attorney who can review the unique facts of each case and apply them to the statutes, case law and court rules can provide legal advice. Nothing in this website shall be construed to create an attorney-client relationship.

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