Domestic Violence Signs and Symptoms

The effects of domestic violence can show up in many different ways. Being aware of these effects will not only help you better understand the experience, but will help you better identify someone who is being abused.

Visible signs of physical injury include:

• bruises, cuts, burns, human bite marks, and broken bones;
• injuries during pregnancy, miscarriage, or premature births;
• delay in getting medical help for injuries; and
• many injuries in different stages of healing.

Someone who is being abused might try to hide injuries that can be seen from others. One sign of this might be someone who suddenly starts wearing long-sleeve shirts or turtlenecks in the summer or sunglasses indoors when they never did before.

Illnesses that may be related to being abused include:

• stress-related illnesses like headaches, backaches, constant pain, gastrointestinal disorders, trouble sleeping, eating disorders, and being tired all the time;
• anxiety-related conditions like heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, and “panic attacks;” and
• depression, thinking about or attempting suicide, and alcohol or other drug problems.

In the workplace, the effects of domestic violence can be seen as:

• not being able to concentrate or focus at work, missing work or getting to work late a lot, or asking for a lot of time off;
• on-the-job harassment by the abuser, either in person or over the phone; and
• poor employment history, or losing jobs.

Behavior changes you may notice that could be a sign of abuse include:

• someone getting nervous, quiet, or “jumpy” when they are around their partner;
• someone you used to spend a lot of time with is now never able to do things with you; and
• someone suddenly “checking in” with their partner a lot, or constantly getting calls, e-mails, or text messages from their partner when they are not together.

The greater your awareness of these signs and symptoms, the more likely you will be to offer help. My next post will contain suggestions on just how to do that.

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