Signs of Abuse

51 % of women in British Columbia report having experienced some form of intimate relationship violence in their lives. There are several different forms of abuse, including:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Violence
  • Emotional and Psychological Abuse
  • Child Abuse and Neglect

Signs of Physical Abuse may include:

  • hitting
  • slapping
  • punching
  • kicking
  • biting
  • pushing
  • choking
  • use of weapon, or
  • any threat of the above.

Signs of Sexual Violence may include:

  • inappropriate sexual touching,
  • unwanted/forced sexual acts including and not limited to intercourse,
  • use/threat of weapon,
  • forced exposure to sexual acts/material/pornography

Signs of Emotional and Psychological Abuse may include:

  • name calling
  • putdowns
  • demeaning statements purposeful humiliation
  • threats of violence
  • withdrawing of affection
  • silent treatment
  • control of property
  • control of dependent children
  • destruction of property
  • destruction of pets
  • abusing control, and neglect

What Are the Possible Signs/Symptoms of Child Physical Abuse?

Physical Indicators:

  • Unexplained bruises, welts, burns, fractures, human bite marks, missing or loosened teeth
  • Appearance of injuries after school absence, weekend or vacation
  • Burns or cuts in shape of a cigarette, belt buckle, or iron
  • Burns caused by immersion which may appear sock or glove-like

Behavioural Indicators:

  • Easily firghtened or fearful of adults and parents, physical contact or when other children cry
  • Destructive to self or others
  • Extremes of behavior: aggressive or withdrawn
  • Runaway or delinquint behavior
  • Reporting unbelievable reasons for injuries
  • Wears clothing that is clearly meant to cover the body when not appropriate
  • Seems afraid to go home

What Are the Possible Signs/Symptoms of Child Sexual Abuse?

Physical Indicators:

  • Difficulty in walking or sitting
  • Torn, stained or bloody underwear
  • Genital/anal itching, pain, swelling, bleeding or burning
  • Frequent urinary tract or yeast infections
  • Venereal disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Frequent psychosomatic illnesses

Behavioural Indicators:

  • Extreme frear for no apparent reason
  • Inability to trust
  • Anger and hostility
  • Inappropriate sexual behavior
  • Depression
  • Guild or shame
  • Sudden drop in school performance
  • Somatic complaints
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Eating disorders
  • Phobic or avoidant behavior
  • Regressive behavior
  • Self-destructive behavior - suicidal gestures or statements
  • Running away
  • Fire setting; fascination with fire

What Are the Possible Signs/Symptoms of Child Neglect?

Physical Indicators:

  • Poor growth pattern
  • Constant hunger, malnutrition
  • Poor hygiene, body odor or lice
  • Clothing inappropriate for climate
  • Constant fatigue
  • Consistent lack of supervision, especially for long periods or in dangerous conditions
  • Unexplained bruises or injuries as a result of poor supervision
  • Unattended physical problems or medical needs such as lack of proper immunizations, gross dental problems, needs glasses/hearing aids

Behavioural Indicators:

  • Developmental lags
  • Begs or steals food, forages through garbage, always hungry
  • Destructive to self and/or others
  • Extremes in behavior: aggressive or withdrawn
  • Assumes adult responsibilities
  • Exhibits infantile behavior
  • Delinquent behavior
  • Depressed/apathetic; states 'no one cares'
  • Frequent school absences or chronic tardiness
  • Hypochondria

Frequency of Abuse Inventory:

Checklist for increasing awareness of the types of behaviors that are abusive, and the cyclical and escalating frequency and severity that typically happens in an unhealthy relationship. Check off any of the following that apply to you. Has he ....


  • called you names or swore at you?
  • yelled or screamed at you?
  • criticized your intelligence or abilities?
  • humiliated you in front of other people?
  • tried to make you feel unattractive?
  • crticized or put down your family or friends?
  • lied to you or deceived you?
  • blamed you for things that weren't your fault?
  • said or done mean things and pretended he was only joking?
  • used threatening body language or gestures?
  • gave you the 'silent treatment'?
  • embarrassed you at your place of work?
  • tried to control your activities and/or friendships?
  • tried to control all the money and/or family decisions?
  • hurt you by having an affair?
  • made jealous comments or accusations?
  • followed or watched you from a hiding place?
  • hounded you from room to room during an argument?
  • kept you awake when he was angry?
  • driven dangerously with you when he was angry?
  • gone into your purse or wallet without your permission?
  • read your private diary or letters?
  • taken away your car or house keys?
  • broken your confidence (told your secret)?
  • frightened you with a knife, gun or other weapon?
  • harassed you with phone calls or uninvited guests?
  • threatened to hurt or kill you?
  • threatened to leave or get a divorce when he didn't mean it?
  • threatened to take custody of the children?
  • threatened to hunt you down if you left?
  • threatened to hurt someone else (a family member or friend)?
  • threatened suicide
  • threatened to call the police on you when you defended yourself?
  • told you that no one would believe you if you told the truth about being abused?
  • threatened to hurt a family pet?

Physical Abuse:

  • grabbed you?
  • pushed you?
  • shaken you?
  • slapped you?
  • pinned you down or against the wall?
  • restrained you from leaving?
  • dragged you from one place to another?
  • chased you when you tried to get away?
  • knocked you down or into something?
  • bitten you?
  • punched or backhanded you?
  • pulled your hair?
  • kicked you?
  • choked you or put a pillow on your face?
  • thrown something at you?
  • burned you with something?
  • hit you with anything?
  • hurt you physically in any other way?

Sexual Abuse:

  • kept on touching and grabbing you when you didn't want to be touched?
  • treated sex as his right, and your duty?
  • hurt you in sexual parts of your body?
  • pressured you into sexual activity that you didn't want?
  • said mean things about your sexual ability or behavior?
  • forced you to have sex when you didn't want to?
  • pressured you to have sex after he has been violent or abusive?

Property Abuse:

  • punched or kicked the wall?
  • torn down curtains or decorations?
  • damaged a door or window?
  • thrown or broken furniture?
  • thrown or broken dishes?
  • ripped out or broken the telephone?
  • damaged or destroyed your possessions?
  • damaged or destroyed his possessions when he was angry?
  • deliberately damaged a vehicle when he was angry?
  • hurt an animal when he was angry?

Risk Factors:

Are There Reasons to Have Concerns About?

  • substance abuse (drugs or alcohol)?
  • mental health issues (depression, personality disorders, mental illness, etc)?
  • employment concerns?
  • financial concerns?
  • previous violent behavior?