Are You Being Abused?

Warning Signs of Battering Behavior

Abusers demonstrate a series of behaviors which come from their desire for power and control. The more behaviors that an abuser displays, the more dangerous the situation may be.


The behaviors typically exhibited by abusers include:

  • Destructive criticism/verbal abuse -name calling, mocking, accusing, humiliating

  • Pressure tactics -sulking, threatening to withhold money, manipulating children

  • Abusing authority- always claiming to be right, making big decisions

  • Disrespect- not listening and responding, putting down in front of family/friends

  • Abusing trust -lying, withholding information, cheating/being unfaithful

  • Breaking promises -not following through; not taking fair share of responsibility

  • Emotional withholding -not expressing feelings; not respecting feelings or rights

  • Minimizing, denying and blaming -saying abuse didn't happen

  • Economic control -refusing to give money or taking money; not letting her work

  • Self-destructive behaviors -abusing drugs or alcohol; threatening suicide

  • Isolation -preventing or making it difficult to see friends or family

  • Harassment -following; checking up; embarrassing her in public

  • Intimidation -making angry or threatening gestures; driving recklessly

  • Destruction -destroying possessions, punching walls; breaking things

  • Threats -making or carrying out threats to hurt her or others

  • Sexual violence -using force or coercion to obtain sex or to perform sexual acts

  • Physical violence -punching, hitting, slapping, strangling, biting, burning, stabbing

  • Use of weapons -using or threatening to use weapons

Safe-House and Services for Battered Women & Children  Shepherd's Rest Ministries, Inc.

Cycle of Violence Wheel - Do you or someone you know live this cycle?


Three stages


Increased tension, anger, blaming and arguing. This phase may last a week, months, or years. However, it usually becomes more frequent as the cycle is repeated. It typically involves an increase in verbal and minor physical abuse. Sometimes this is enough to frighten the victim into submission. The victim knows what will happen if he/she does not comply. At this point the victim may be amenable to sources of help.

Battering-hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, use of objects or weapons. Sexual abuse. Verbal threats and abuse. During this phase the batterer loses the desire or ability to control his/her anger and violence. The batterer learns that this type of action helps to "relieve stress" and "change behavior". Just following this episode the batterer and the partner are most likely to seek help. The partner is hurt and scared, and the batterer is feeling ashamed, guilty and humiliated.

Seduction or Honeymoon 
This stage may decrease over time. The batterer may deny violence; say he/she was drunk, say sorry and promise that it will never happen again. The victim is least amenable to help at this point. However, the batterer may be most open to help at the start of this phase because typically, he/she is remorseful and wishes to please (keep) the partner. At the peak of this stage both parties may deny or distort what has occurred.

Then, Phase 1 begins again... The truth is that change is unlikely unless you get help. The victims want to believe the abuser when they promise it will never happen again, but in most cases it does. It not only recurs, but escalates each time. Studies indicate that most abusers who seek professional help do so only after their partners have left. Otherwise, they have no incentive to change.

What Should I do?

The first step is to recognize what is happening. It is hard to accept that you are being abused by someone you love. Look over the types of abuse. Do any of the behaviors apply to your life? Take it seriously.


Realize you are not alone, and you didn't cause or deserve the abuse. Tell trusted adults and friends. Call the authorities if you've been assaulted or in danger. Call our hotline at 770-443-5213.

What to do if you are an abuser

If you are an abuser, there are steps you can take as well. Admit that you are hurting someone and make a commitment to stop. Talk to trusted adults and friends about your problem. Call a hotline for help.