Barely a week goes by without a news report about a devastating death due to domestic or family violence. The latest Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) Personal Safety Survey (PSS) revealed that 1 in 6 women and 1 in 18 men had experienced physical and/or sexual violence by a partner since the age of 15. These are shocking figures for physical abuse, however what about abuse that is not physically violent? What about the silent signs of domestic violence that we don’t see?

The ABS survey shows that emotional abuse occurred for 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men. So what are the signs of emotional abuse? They are far more insidious and far more common. Here are some of the signs of domestic abuse that you should be aware of. If your partner starts to employ these tactics, it’s a warning sign…

• Controlling or preventing you from seeing your family and friends
• Needing to know where you are at all times
• Insisting that you are always at home and insisting on knowing where you are going
• Monitoring your phone calls, conversations, social media and email
• Checking the milage on your car to see where you have driven
• Checking your browser history, phone calls and message
Signs of emotional and psychological abuse
• Name-calling and making you feel bad about the way you look
• Constantly belittling or putting you down
• Humiliating you in front of friends, family or in public
• Telling others you are crazy
• Playing mind games
Using gendered privilege
• Seeing themselves as superior, or always right
• Treating/owning you like a possession
• They makes all the big decisions.
• They tell you what to read, wear, where you can go and who you can talk to
• They control your finances
Coercion and threats
• Your partner uses force or threats to make you do things against your will
• They threaten to hurt the children, family members or pets
• They threaten to report you to Centrelink, the taxation department, immigration, corrections, police child safety or to your employer
• They tell you to dress differently to the way you want
• They threatened to kill you and/or the children
• They have damaged or destroyed your belongings or broken things around the house
• They have punched holes in the walls or doors
• They are easily angered and prone to sudden mood swings
• They are jealous or suspicious
Minimising, denying and blaming
• They say you are to blame for their anger and violence, it’s your fault
• They say you were “asking for it”
• They deny being violent/abusive
• They insist the abuse “wasn’t that bad”
Economic abuse
• They have taken away your money or have control over how you spend it
• They refuse to pay bills or contribute financially
• They threaten to withdraw financial support
• They prevent you from getting a job or threaten to jeopardise your employment
Sexual abuse
• They pressure you into sex which is unpleasant, pressured or forced
• They ask you to perform humiliating or degrading acts
• They make you have sex after physical abuse, or when you are sick
• They have forced you to have unprotected sex
• They have forced you to engage in practices without your consent
• They have drugged you, or filmed you and shared images without your consent
Using the children
• They have told you that you will lose custody of your children and never see them again
• They have asked the children for information about you
• They have forced or manipulated the children into harming you
• They have tried to undermine your relationship with your children

If you or anyone you know are experiencing some of these signs of emotional and psychological abuse, it’s time to reach out for help.