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Signs of Abuse

Abuse is about one person controlling another. It's a pattern of behavior. You may not think of yourself as abused because you haven't been hit. Not all bruises from domestic abuse can be seen. Mental, emotional, and sexual abuse are just as painful and damaging as physical violence. Domestic abuse happens in all walks of life, all cultures, all income groups, all ages, all religions. It is not categorized by just one hit. It is, however, categorized by repetition and patterns of violence that allow the abuser to gain control over the victim.

Power and Control

This chart is a graphic way of looking at different kinds of abuse. Each spoke represents a tactic used to gain control or power. The rim that surrounds and supports the spokes is physical abuse. It holds the system together and gives the abuser strength.


Controlling what she does, who she sees and talks to, where she goes.


Putting her down or making her feel bad about herself, calling her names. Making her think she's crazy. Mind games.  


Trying to keep her from getting or keeping a job. Making her ask for money, giving her an allowance, taking her money.


Making her do sexual things against her will. Physically attacking the sexual parts of her body. Treating her like a sex object.


Making her feel guilty about the children, using the children to give messages, using visitation as a way to harass her.


Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her emotionally. Threaten to take the children, commit suicide, report her to welfare.


Treating her like a servant. Making all the "big" decisions. Acting like the "master of the castle".


Putting her in fear by using looks, actions, gestures, loud voice, smashing things, destroying property. 

Safety Plan

Warning: Violence often gets worse when you try to leave or show signs of independence. Take special care!


  • Try to figure out warning signs that come before an assault. Drinking, drugs, pay day, a bad day at work, etc.
  • Are there physical signs? Clenched fists, threats, a red face, throwing things?
  • Try to get out or get help before anything happens
  • Are there weapons in the house? Can you remove them? Lock them up?
  • Can you signal the neighbors? Can your children learn to call the police?
  • How will you get out of the house? Set a routine so that it is normal for you to leave the house for a short period of time
  • If possible, take your children with you. Alternatives are to send them to a friend or relative.


If there's time to plan, have the following items organized in one place. Also, make copies of as many of these as possible so a duplicate is available in a second location. Keep these items in a place known to only you, so in case you have to leave in a hurry they are ready.

  • Money:
    • Checkbook
    • Savings Account
    • ATM Card
    • Credit/Debit Cards
  • Drivers License/Picture ID for yourself
  • Birth certificates for you and your children
  • Social Security cards for you and your children
  • School and vaccination records
  • Keys:
    • House
    • Car
    • Office
  • Medication
  • Divorce papers, custody papers

Community Resources

Looking for additional community resources? Visit UP Resources to learn more!

The Barbara Kettle Gundlach Shelter Home offers a safe place for victims of domestic violence and their children. Contact us for more information and other assistance.

Gold Scramble June 24, 2023