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Is your relationship abusive?

People who aren’t in abusive relationships often assume it’d be very easy to know. If your partner hits you, that’s abuse. End of story.

The reality, of course, is that it can be far harder to tell. The lines are not as distinct. Did your husband insult you for real, or was he joking? Did your wife really want to hurt you when she hit you, or did she not mean any harm? After an incident, a person may claim he or she never meant to do anything wrong, so it’s important to know what signs to look for so you can read between the lines. Some things to look for include:

— Feeling nervous about what your partner will do, even when things seem to be going well.

— Not having all of the freedoms that your peers have. For example, your spouse could restrict your access to your own bank account.

— Feeling like you shouldn’t invite people to the house because you are nervous about what your spouse may do and embarrassed about his or her actions.

— Never seeing your parents, brothers and sisters because your spouse doesn’t want you to or won’t let you go.

— Often feeling humiliated by the way your spouse treats you in public, even if it’s subtle.

— Feeling like you can’t leave, even though you want to, because you don’t know what your spouse would do.

Abusive relationships are complicated. Domestic violence and abuse can take on many forms. If you’re involved in a situation like this, and if the signs above feel all too familiar, you must know what options you have.

Source: CARA, “Signs and symptoms of an abusive relationship:,” accessed Jan. 13, 2017

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