Intimate partner abuse, sometimes known as “domestic violence,” is when someone you are in a relationship with now or any time in the past causes you harm.1

There are many ways you might be abused by a partner, including:

  • Physical violence (the use of force by hand or weapon)
  • Sexual abuse (rape, forced sexual acts)
  • Stalking (repeated unwanted attention that causes fear)
  • Psychological aggression (name-calling, withholding money or other need, mind games)1

You don’t have to be having sex with someone for them to be considered your “intimate partner.” An intimate partner is anyone — spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend, or sexual partner — with whom you have an emotional connection and regular contact.

Signs of Abuse

It can be hard to step outside your relationship and see that you’re being abused. However, there are “red flags” that can help you check in with yourself about your partner:

  • Does your partner keep you from interacting with friends and family?
  • Have you stopped doing activities you enjoy, quit school, or quit your job because your partner insisted?
  • Does your partner put you down and insult you?
  • Does your partner respect the boundaries you set?
  • Does your partner have to know where you are and who you’re with at all times?
  • Has your partner abused others in the past?
  • Is your partner calm in public, but out of control/angry in private?2

If you’re being abused, it is not your fault. No one deserves to be abused, no matter what. You are not responsible for changing your abuser’s behavior.

Getting Help

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse from a partner, there are safe ways to get help. Here are some steps you can take to make a plan and get out of an abusive situation:

  • Confide in a person you trust about the abuse.
  • Find a support group.
  • Call an abuse hotline.
  • Relocate to a local domestic violence shelter.

If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911.2 Trust your instincts — if you don’t feel safe, get help.


  1. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention
  2. National Network to End Domestic Violence