Other people may be able to check your computer to see emails you sent and websites you visited. If you are concerned, try to use a friend's computer or one at your local library. Learn more about technology and your safety.
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Am I being abused?
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.
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.
Read more from womenshealth.gov
One Department: Overview of HHS Activities on Violence Against Women (2009-2010) — This report highlights the use of funds from the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act that support emergency shelter and related assistance for survivors of domestic violence and their children.
Explore other publications and websites
Are You Being Abused? (Copyright © American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) — This simple quiz helps victims and those who care about them identify the signs of abuse. It encourages victims to seek assistance and gives phone numbers to call for help.
Domestic Violence Against Women: Recognize Patterns, Seek Help (Copyright © Mayo Foundation) — This fact sheet list signs of domestic violence. It also gives ways to seek help if you are experiencing domestic violence.
Emotional Abuse (Copyright © University of Michigan Health System) — Learn about the pattern of emotional abuse and how to recognize emotionally abusive behavior.
Power and Control Wheel (Copyright © Family Violence Prevention Fund) — In an abusive relationship, power and control are repeatedly misused by an abuser. This wheel gives examples of physical, verbal, and sexual abuse and violence.
Violence Prevention — This website provides information on the impact of violence, risk factors for violence, and effective prevention tips. It also addresses intimate partner, sexual, and youth violence.
Connect with other organizations
Choose Respect, CDC, HHS
Family Violence Prevention and Services Program, HHS, ACF
Futures Without Violence
National Center for Victims of Crime
National Domestic Violence Hotline
National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline
Office for Victims of Crime, U.S. Department of Justice
Office on Violence Against Women, DOJ
Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network
The Stalking Resource Center, NCVC
Content last updated May 18, 2011.
Resources last updated May 18, 2011.
A federal government website managed by the Office on Women's Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
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