What are the Signs & Symptoms of Domestic Violence?

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence or has questions on what they should do:

What is Domestic Violence?
Who Commits Domestic Violence and Why?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence?
How to Handle & Deal with Domestic Violence
How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence
How to Heal and Recover from Domestic Violence
What Impacts Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims and Their Family/Friends?
How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)
How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?
Punishment and Sentencing for Violent Domestic Abuse
How can Domestic Violence be Prevented?
What Effects Does Domestic Violence Have on Wider Society?
Domestic Violence Data & Statistics
Domestic Violence Helplines, Support & Further Reading


Abuse can take form in many ways, unfortunately sometimes it is not always clear and may be subtle.

In any event recognising and acknowledging abuse is key, when you become aware of what is happening you are then able to think of ways to deal with the situation. This guide helps to identify signs and symptoms of abuse so that you are in a better position to help yourself or someone you know.

How does Domestic Violence start and what triggers it?


Please note that abuse is wrong in any circumstance and that this article does not in any way intend to justify or rationalise abuse. Rather it intends to look into questions which arise when individuals come across these type of situations.

Domestic violence is a choice on the part of the abuser, however let’s look at some of the factors which may contribute to their choice of becoming abusive;

  • They were abused themselves – some abusers act out the same behaviour because it was done to them, almost a subconscious effort to resolve their own abuse
  • They have a disorder – a sociopath or psychopath (anti-social personality disorder), the abuser will gain personal pleasure from seeing others in pain. Alternatively they may suffer from a disorder in which the abuser lacks empathy
  • Anger issues – the source of the anger may vary, could be linked to unresolved trauma. Could happen at any time and hard to control leading to abusive behaviour
  • Having control issues – like to be in charge by having control over others, usually enforce this control by any means such as bullying or intimidation

This list is indicative rather than fully comprehensive and there will be many other reasons why abusers commit abuse. However this does not mean the abuser’s behaviour is justified but instead helps to give a better understanding on the type of factors that may influence the abusers behaviour.

Domestic abuse is about gaining/maintaining power and control over the victim, therefore the abuser is more likely to resort to abusive behaviour in order to achieve this. The victim is never at fault or to blame, it is triggered by the abuser for their own purpose.

What are the tell-tale signs I am being domestically abused?

Please note this list is indicative rather than exhaustive, all domestic violence situations will vary however it’s important to remember good healthy relationships will make you feel happy, supported and cared for.

  • You feel like you’re walking on eggshells – you feel scared of how your partner will react to certain situations and can’t predict their behaviour when they do get angry.
  • You feel like you cannot do anything right – you feel like you have lost your confidence and have become more critical of yourself.
  • You have become more isolated – you have lost touch with family and friends and feel like your life is centred around your partner
  • You spend most of your time trying to make your partner happy – you give up your own opinions, needs and wants and want to focus on your partner, believing he/she is right about everything.
  • You feel stressed or worried – you experience headaches, have disturbed sleep or eating patterns
  • Your partner makes you feel guilty and blame you – your partner makes you feel bad for doing something you want to do like seeing family or friends, if your partner does anything wrong they blame you for doing it.
  • Your partner does things to hurt you – this can be hurting you physically, or using words to hurt you, they may also hurt you emotionally causing you to feel pain and distress

If you’re feeling distressed or scared then you should reach out and speak to someone you trust.

What are the tell-tale indicators if friend or family member is being domestically abused?

Again this list is not exhaustive and signs may vary depending on each situation.

  • Have frequent injuries – but the individual is always trying to cover this up by calling it an ‘accident’ or dress in clothes trying to hide the bruising or scars
  • Seem afraid or anxious to please their partner – they seem to go along with everything their partner says and does, appears to be too scared to challenge their partner holding them in high esteem
  • Always on the phone with their partner, explaining what they are doing – they seem to have to provide regular updates on where they are, what they are doing and whom they are with
  • Seem to have lost confidence – you may notice they have low self- esteem and look depressed or anxious
  • Become more withdrawn – the individual no longer sees family or friends and doesn’t do all the things they once liked to do. They are rarely seen out with their partner too.

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, then try speaking to them in confidence. They may be hesitant or reluctant to talk but they will know that you care and may decide to reach out when they feel ready to do so.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy.

It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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