Warning Signs of Physical Abuse in a Relationship

Physical abuse is a serious problem in relationships, and its effects can be long-lasting and devastating. It is important to be aware of the warning signs so that appropriate action can be taken quickly if physical abuse is suspected. In order to identify potential cases of physical abuse, it helps to look out for certain behaviors in a relationship. Physical abuse often occurs with verbal or emotional abuse, and the signs can include but are not limited to the following behavior:

  • Extremely controlling or possessive behavior
  • Jealousy without cause or reason
  • Making false accusations or lies about an individual
  • Unwanted physical contact (e.g., pushing, slapping)
  • Forceful restraint (grabbing, pinning, confining)
  • Threats of forcible restraint or harm with objects such as weapons
  • Using intimidation tactics such as threatening body language, yelling, or glaring threateningly

Types of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any type of violent or aggressive behavior that causes injury or harm to another person. This can range from pushing, shoving, and hitting to using weapons or other objects to cause harm.

As a survivor of abuse or someone who is currently in an abusive relationship, it is important to be aware of the different types of physical abuse that you may experience. This article will outline some of the warning signs of physical abuse in a relationship:


wife punching her husband

Slapping is a common form of physical abuse and can range from a light tap to a forceful blow, depending on the extent of the abuse. It is never acceptable for a partner, whether it be a girlfriend or wife, to slap you. It may occur with an open-handed slap or with a closed fist and can cause bruises, red marks, cuts, scrapes, and broken bones, depending on how hard it is delivered. Slapping may be inflicted anywhere on the body but often targets the face because it is visible to everyone and can cause lasting physical and emotional damage.

It is important to recognize that slapping is not an acceptable way to communicate in any relationship, regardless of whether it’s occasional or ongoing. If this type of behavior continues in a relationship, it should be taken seriously, as it is often seen as justifiable for more serious physical abuse in the future.

Other signs of aggressive behavior that may warrant additional attention include:

  • Striking with objects such as belts, books, or other items;
  • Kicking;
  • Choking;
  • Hair-pulling;
  • Pushing or shoving;
  • Burning with cigarettes; and
  • Scratching.

Reaching out for help from family members or trusted friends is important if you fear an abusive relationship is escalating toward violence.


Punching is one of the most common forms of physical abuse in relationships. It can be hard to recognize when someone is punching you because it may not always leave physical marks. Punches like slaps and punches to the face and body can cause bruises, cuts, broken bones, or other serious injuries. Even if a punch does not leave a mark or injury, it can still be an act of psychological and emotional abuse.

Other forms of punching may include grabbing someone by the throat or nudging them with one’s finger or forearm to intimidate them. All these acts can threaten another person’s safety and feel like assault even if no actual physical contact takes place.

It is important to remember that violence in any form is never okay – there are no excuses for any kind of physical abuse in a relationship. If you are concerned about your health or safety, contact law enforcement immediately for further assistance.


Kicking is a type of physical abuse in relationships that can sometimes be easy to miss because it may not leave behind visual bruises or signs of physical injury. Signs of kicking as a form of physical abuse may include kicking, shoving or pushing the victim, restraining them from making any kind of contact with other people or forcing them to participate in activities against their will.

It can be difficult to identify someone who is attacking with their feet because the person being kicked may have difficulty recognizing that it is happening. Victims of this form of physical abuse often misattribute the pain they feel to an accidental tripping or other activity. Signs to look out for are if the partner gets physically abusive when angry and blames it on you, saying things like ‘you made me do it’ or ‘why did you make me so mad?’

It’s also important to pay attention if your partner expresses fear around certain activities they might find threatening, like walking down certain hallways or being in certain rooms.

Other signs that a person might be engaged in kicking as a form of physical abuse can include feelings of insecurity, extreme jealousy, and controlling behaviors such as checking personal messages and Social Media accounts without permission. Additionally, victims may show signs of ongoing stress such as low self-esteem and depression due to living in an abusive relationship.

To protect yourself from experiencing violence through kicking, never accept blame for your partner’s actions, create safety plans that give you an escape route from danger and seek professional help if you are struggling with an abusive relationship.


Strangulation is a form of physical abuse that involves applying pressure to the neck, usually with hands and fingers, or with an object or weapon. Strangulation is a violent act intended to choke off air flow, blood flow and/or cause extreme pain. It can cause significant physical injuries, including bruises and scarring, but most importantly can lead to brain damage due to lack of oxygen or eventual death.

Victims of strangulation should seek medical attention as soon as possible as the effects of strangulation are not always immediately visible. Additionally, victims should seek psychological support to help cope with the physical and emotional trauma associated with this type of abuse.

Some signs that a person may have been a victim of strangulation are:

  • Difficulty speaking
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble breathing
  • They may also become easily fatigued during normal activities.

If you suspect someone is being strangled or if you yourself have experienced it, it is important to get help from a qualified professional in order to take steps towards safety and recovery from such an emotionally damaging experience.


Pushing is a very common type of physical abuse in relationships. It can involve any type of physical force that is used against one partner in an attempt to intimidate or control them. When a partner uses pushing as a form of abuse, it may involve using arms, hands and feet to shove the other person, as well as shoving furniture or other objects during an argument. Pushing can also involve spitting or throwing objects such as shoes, books or glasses at the other partner.

Pushing is considered to be a very serious form of physical abuse because it can cause injury and long-term damage to both parties involved. Pushing can result in broken bones, pulled muscles, cuts and bruises that take longer than usual to heal. It may also cause psychological distress due to fear and anxiety associated with being victimized by a partner.

If you believe that your partner may be pushing you or if you have experienced this type of physical abuse yourself, it is important that you reach out for help right away from friends, family members or professionals so that the situation can be addressed properly and appropriately before it becomes even more serious.

Throwing Objects

Throwing objects is a common form of physical abuse and one that often goes unrecognized as a sign of mental and emotional manipulation. This type of control involves one partner using a physical object to convey power and dominance over the other, often happening when the abuser is feeling especially frustrated or angry.

Objects can include anything from furniture to electronic items such as phones and laptops, but the most common form of object throwing in violence involves throwing bottles, glasses, plates or other items that could physically hurt a partner. Throwing objects in an abusive relationship is used as an intimidation tactic, intended to instill fear in the victim. In addition to fear and humiliation, victims of this form of abuse may also experience property damage or even physical injury if they are hit by an object being thrown at them.

If you notice any signs that someone is throwing objects to control their partner, it is important to take action right away or contact law enforcement or your local domestic violence hotline for advice on how to intervene safely and effectively:

  • Contact law enforcement
  • Contact your local domestic violence hotline
  • Intervene safely and effectively

Warning Signs of Physical Abuse

Physical abuse in a relationship is an unfortunate reality for many people. It can be hard to recognize the signs of physical abuse and even harder to admit that you are in an abusive relationship. There are several warning signs of physical abuse to watch out for in a relationship. Let’s look at the most common ones and see what you should do if you witness any of these warning signs:

  • Signs of controlling behavior.
  • Verbal threats.
  • Isolation from family and friends.
  • Unwanted physical contact.
  • Extreme jealousy.
  • Emotional manipulation.
  • Using coercion or intimidation.
  • Threats of violence.

Unexplained bruises or marks

Unexplained bruises or marks are warning signs of physical abuse in a relationship. Bruises, cuts, and scars on both the face and body that occur in questionable circumstances may indicate physical abuse. In particular, if it is accompanied by an excuse which changes when questioned several times, or explanations are vague or contradictory.

Additional warning signs of physical abuse may include the following behaviors:

  • Frequent arguments over small issues
  • Aggression or manipulation to get one’s way
  • Stalking behavior such as checking up on a partner’s activities without permission
  • Inequality within the relationship such as control over finances
  • Isolation from friends and family for arbitrary reasons
  • Humiliation in private or in public settings
  • Extreme jealousy as indicated by accusations of cheating
  • Blaming the victim for negative behaviors
  • Intimidation threats of violence during arguments

These physical abuse indicators can be clues to potential danger in a relationship and should not be ignored. If you think someone you know may be experiencing physical abuse, it is important that you reach out to them. Make sure they have access to community resources for support, safety planning guidance and help when needed.

Isolation from family and friends

One of the primary signs of physical abuse in a relationship is when the abuser tries to isolate their partner from family and friends. The abuser may attempt to do this in various ways, such as:

  • discouraging their partner from seeing certain people
  • making it difficult or impossible for them to communicate with others
  • cutting off contact with outside support systems
  • blaming the victim for not being able to spend time with others
  • preventing them from engaging in activities that don’t involve the abuser

These behaviors can also have serious psychological impacts, such as feelings of fear, powerlessness and resentment. Additionally, taking away these support systems can leave victims feeling isolated and unable to reach out for help if they need it. It is important for victims of physical abuse to seek help from local shelters or other resources that can provide safety and protection.

Unusual fear or anxiety around the abuser

Unusual fear or anxiety, particularly in the presence of the abuser, can be a sign that physical abuse is happening. If your beloved partner usually has a good relationship with their family and suddenly becomes afraid to see them, they may be avoiding situations with an abuser. Other signs of fear include:

  • Dreading certain people or places
  • Continuously avoiding interviews with bosses or colleagues because they’re afraid
  • Refusing to answer questions about how their body looks or acts differently

Fear isn’t always clear until you take notice of the other signs that someone is being abused physically. It’s important to remain vigilant and look out for changes in behavior such as:

  • Sudden distance or disinterest in engaging in physical activity or intimate expression with you
  • Making excuses for not wanting to go out together
  • Becoming easily startled when you are around them
  • Having a higher than average level of stress than usual

All these signs can be indicative of someone searching for ways away from their abuser and may demonstrate the fear they’re feeling within their current situation.

It’s also important to recognize that people who are victims of physical abuse may display extreme emotions such as excessive joy during certain situations contrary to times when they fear an abuser; this could be considered a sign of relief for them outside the clutches of their perpetrator as well as self-preservation in order to appear undisturbed by it all. As loving partners we need to pay attention even when there isn’t verbal communication or clear facial expressions; Human bodies are often unable to restrain themselves from showing what our minds try so hard to hide.

Low self-esteem

When one partner is physically, verbally or psychologically abusive, the other partner may start to experience feelings of low self-esteem. This can occur over time as a result of the abuse, or all of a sudden if there is a particularly severe incident.

Low self-esteem can manifest itself in different ways, including:

  • Routinely apologizing for mistakes even though it may be unnecessary.
  • Difficulty expressing oneself.
  • Avoiding compliments from others.

It often gives way to feeling insecure in relationships with friends and family and developing a shrinking sense of worth and confidence.

If you find yourself in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship, consider speaking to a trusted friend or support system about your mental health.

Guilt or shame

Guilt or shame are common emotions that can be experienced by someone in an abusive relationship. If you are constantly feeling guilty or ashamed of your identity, worth and choices, it could signal a red flag for physical abuse. These emotions stem from the control the abuser is attempting to have over their partner, which can include minor verbal abuse.

The abuser may frequently criticize their partner’s physical appearance or behavior as a way of eroding their self-esteem and attempting to gain control. They might also be suggested that they should have known better or done things differently as a way of shifting the blame onto them rather than taking accountability for their actions.

It is important to remember that no matter what situation you find yourself in, you never deserve to be abused in any way and you should speak up if you feel something is wrong.

Extreme jealousy

Extreme jealousy or possessiveness is a common warning sign in abusive relationships. It typically begins with innocent comments, such as jealousy over people or activities that the abuser sees as taking their partner away from them. Over time, the behavior can become more extreme and include attempts to isolate their partner from friends and family, constant surveillance and tracking of one’s whereabouts, and criticism of everything their partner does. This type of behavior is often used to control and manipulate the other person in the relationship, creating a climate of fear that can be incredibly damaging.

Other warning signs may include:

  • Demanding extreme levels of commitment from their partner;
  • Name calling;
  • Making threats about leaving;
  • Unraveling lies about a partner’s past;
  • Constantly accusing a partner of cheating or being unfaithful;
  • Using emotional blackmail tactics such as guilt trips – e.g., “If you really loved me you would…”;
  • Exerting control over financial decisions;
  • Refusing to take responsibility for one’s own mistakes or behaviors;
  • Blaming a victim for any conflicts or arguments between them.

It is important to identify these signs early before they escalate into physical abuse. If you notice your partner exhibiting any of these warning signs, it is important to get help immediately in order to ensure your own safety and wellbeing.

How to Get Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing physical abuse in a relationship, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Physical abuse can lead to serious injuries, and in some cases, death. It can also lead to long-term psychological and emotional damage.

Knowing the warning signs of physical abuse can help you recognize it early and get the help you need:

Reach out to a friend or family member

One way to get help is to reach out to a friend or family member. Talk to someone you trust and open up about what you’re going through. It may be difficult to confide in someone you respect, but it is important as they can help offer advice on an exit strategy and identify resources that are available for victims of abuse in their area. Reaching out for advice from friends, family members, trusted co-workers and even professional counselors can be beneficial to identify options for victims of abusive relationships. Many times, the first step for getting help is finding a safe place where the victim can talk openly about their feelings without fear of reprisal from the abuser.

Another avenue for seeking assistance is through government services such as social services and domestic violence centers. Government programs are typically designed in order to provide intervention services such as emergency shelters and confidential counseling. There are even hotlines that victims can call if they find themselves in an abusive situation or need support during an ongoing crisis associated with physical abuse in a relationship.

Finally, professional help may come in the form of legal assistance through organizations such as women’s advocacy groups or lawyers who specialize in domestic violence cases. An attorney will provide assistance with documentation if necessary and provide the best course of action legally and financially speaking when it comes time to press charges against one’s abuser or take other legal action as necessary.

Contact a domestic violence hotline

Talking to an experienced domestic violence counselor or advocate can help you better understand your situation and provide support. A domestic violence hotline is a great place to start. You can call or text one of these hotlines anonymously and confidentially to receive guidance, support, and even safety planning tips if you are in danger. Those who work at the hotline will listen to your story without judgement and offer practical advice about how to get out of a dangerous situation.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides trained crisis counselors 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that can speak with you in English or Spanish:

  • Call: 1-800-799-7233
  • Text: loveis to 22522

Live chat is also available on their website from 7am – 2am CST everyday (https://www.thehotline.org/help/#livechat). On their website, you can also find resources for coming up with a safety plan, understanding the legal process involved in escaping an abusive relationship, as well as information on how friends and family members can be helpful during difficult times.

Seek medical attention

If you are concerned about your safety in a relationship, it is important to seek medical attention from a health care provider immediately. Medical professionals can check for any signs of physical harm and provide you with necessary treatment or referrals. Furthermore, it is in your best interest to document physical abuse with photos and/or medical records when possible. It is essential to remember that even if your physician does not report the abuse, they can still provide legal assurance that the injury or condition was caused by the abusive partner.

When attending medical appointments for physical abuse injuries, bring with you any evidence of the abuse, such as photos or clothing worn during the attack. Make sure to clearly explain what occurred and describe any other symptoms you may be experiencing. Your health care provider should also assess warning signs of emotional or mental health issues caused by an abusive relationship, such as:

  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Substance use

Being treated by a doctor after an episode of violence may save your life in more ways than one and should be considered a priority whenever possible. Seeking both legal and medical help could prove beneficial when dealing with an emotionally and/or physically abusive relationship.

Make a safety plan

insane screaming couple

Creating a safety plan is an important step to take if you are being physically abused in a relationship. Every situation is different and your safety plan may differ depending on your environment. In short, a safety plan helps prepare you if you are in a dangerous situation and need to get out quickly.

Firstly, come up with a list of people you trust and can rely on for help when needed. Make sure to consider people who live nearby, as well as those who are located farther away. It’s also important to think about safe places you can go or call where your abuser won’t be able to find or follow you. Have these contact numbers ready for any emergency: emergency services (911), domestic violence hotline (1-800-799-7233), friend or family member, attorney/legal resources, local homeless shelter or any other community services available in your area.

In addition to the above steps, make sure that all valuables including personal documents such as passports or driver’s licenses are packed into bags that can be kept with friends and family members if needed. It’s also important to keep any restraining orders (if applicable) on hand at all times until the abuser is no longer an immediate threat. Lastly, consider preparing an “escape bag” with essential items such as cash/dollars bills and extra keys that can be safely taken should you need to leave quickly in an emergency situation.


Understanding the warning signs of physical abuse is the first step in protecting yourself and those you care about. If you or someone you know is experiencing physical abuse, it’s important to remember that there are resources available to get help. Reach out to a friend, counselor or domestic violence hotline for support in developing a safe and healthy plan of action.

Additionally, it’s essential to talk to an attorney if legal intervention is needed. By intervening and taking action now, you can work towards ending the cycle of violence and creating a healthier relationship dynamic for everyone involved.



Life Advice

Photo of author


I'm Crystal. I'm married to Dale, and mother to Johnny.Some might say that my life is perfect because I get to do all the cliché wife things like cooking, cleaning, and decorating - but there's more! I also have many hobbies including needlework (crochet), sewing, and reading. My son's education is important, so we homeschool him together.

Leave a Comment