Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Know the Signs: Tips for Understanding Signs of Abuse with Family Members

Abuse can take on many forms, including physical, verbal, and emotional. Regardless of the type of abuse, all can be very damaging not only to the recipient of the abuse, but also to the family of the person being abused. Family members may suspect that one of their loved ones is getting abused but may not know what do to about it. There are tips for understanding the abuse that your loved one may be experiencing.

Personality changes

Someone who is being abused may undergo some personality changes that a close family member may notice. They may become anxious when around their partner and try their hardest to make their partner happy. Someone who is abused may have been a very happy person at one point but is now depressed or even suicidal. They may seem to suffer from low self-esteem and withdraw from discussing their relationship. If they do discuss their relationship, they may inform family members of their partner’s jealousy or bad temperament. 

Physical Signs

There are many physical signs of abuse, but these may not be visible all the time. Someone who is being severely physically abused may have frequent injuries such as black eyes, broken bones, cuts, and bruises. They may change the way they dress or wear clothing that isn’t weather-appropriate to hide their injuries. They also may miss work or school in an attempt to keep the evidence hidden. When asked about the injuries, most victims of abuse will give an unlikely story rather than tell the truth.


Family members who are victims of abuse often become more and more isolated as the abuse continues. They may be given limited access to resources such as money and transportation, which further isolates them. They may spend most of their time with their partner and rarely leave the home without them. Family members may find that the victim is often cancelling plans at the last minute or turning down invitations to which their partner is not invited.

Many people don’t realize that verbal and emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse and often even more confusing for the victim. Physical violence can be easier to prove, and it can be used as evidence if the victim decides to come forward and seek help. Sometimes, unhappy couples will say they have been abused, even if they haven’t, and that’s another thing to pay attention to. In either case, it’s important for them to talk to a Vancouver domestic violence lawyer. It isn’t always easy for a victim to take that first step, though, so a caring family member who recognizes the signs of abuse may be able to help.

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