How do we recognize the signs that someone is in need of help? Someone who suffers from abuse can look like any one of us, no matter age, gender, race, religion, or background. Toxic behaviors can come in many different forms and may often build up or get worse over time. It can be broken down into two forms: physical abuse and mental abuse.
Mental abuse involves nonphysical behaviors that may belittle another person through insults or other tactics that may lead to a feeling of being threatened, ashamed or degraded.
Some signs may include:
- Restriction of access to someone’s financial resources
- Someone’s life is dictated by the abuser
- Fear of disagreeing with abuser
- Abuser exerts possessiveness and unreasonable jealousy
- Humiliating or intimidating someone (verbal insults)
- Someone’s feeling is always dismissed or ignored
- Belittling someone’s accomplishments
- Deliberately putting someone in awkward or uncomfortable positions
- Insulting someone’s looks or behavior
- Monitoring or controlling all the decisions in someone’s life
- Isolating someone from friends, family and loved ones
- Destroying or hiding someone’s personal items
- Abuser deliberately picking fights
Physical abuse is when someone inflicts intentional, bodily harm upon another person. Obvious signs may include cuts, burns, frequent hospital visits, restraint markings or bruises.
Less obvious signs may include:
- Unwanted pregnancy
- Vague medical complaints
- Withdrawal or social isolation
- Sexual problems
- Increased alcohol or drugs consumption
- Pelvic pain or infections
While these are common signs of abuse, it’s best not to immediately jump to conclusions and assess the situation first. However, local police or the social services agency should be promptly alerted in the case of high suspicion of abuse.
We all have an active role in eliminating abuse. Interested in learning what resources exist and how to recognize abuse? Check out these resources:
- Canadian Women’s Foundation: Signs of Emotional Abuse
- Active Beast: 12 Telling Signs You’re Trapped in a Toxic Relationship
- Ending Violence Association of Canada: Country-wide sexual assault centre, crisis lines and support services
- Healthy Place: Signs of Physical Abuse, Physically Abused Adults
- Health Direct: Domestic violence and abusive relationships