How Do I Know If I Am Being Abused?

Abuse comes in many forms and is not limited to physical or sexual assault. Abuse is about power and control, one person's desire to control another person. Abusers will use any available tools to achieve this control. The abuse itself can be physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, verbal, sexual and/or financial. It can occur during the relationship, during the breakup of the relationship or after the relationship has ended. It is important to remember that not all abuse constitutes a criminal act.

There are many ways to tell if you are being abused. Trusting your own instincts is a good start. Domestic violence victims often speak about a combination of signs, feelings, and ways of acting. Think about the questions and statements below and which of them apply to you. If your own feelings are similar to what you see here, you may be in an abusive relationship. If you are a victim of abuse, or think you may be, there are many community supports you can turn to. You may contact a support line, Victim Services of York Region, or the Police, whichever you are most comfortable with. Refer to contacts in the reference area for more information on who can help you.


Abusive partners try to control every aspect of their partner’s life, such as:

  • What they are allowed to wear
  • Who they are allowed to talk to
  • What they are allowed to purchase
  • Whether or not they are allowed to work
  • The amount of contact with family and friends
  • Parenting of the children

Have you or someone you know ever experienced the following?

Verbal Abuse Name-calling or put-downs
Isolation Isolation from family or friends
Financial Abuse Withholding of money
Medical Abuse Denying access to medical treatment or services
Psychological Abuse Threats and psychological abuse
Spiritual Abuse Denying the right to practice your chosen religion,
  or forcing you to adhere to certain beliefs
Emotional Abuse Anger and intimidation
Physical Abuse Actual or threatened physical harm
Psychological Abuse Blackmail
Sexual Abuse Sexual assault


This violence can take many forms, such as physical, emotional/psychological, sexual, and financial. It can also happen once in a while or most/all of the time. Although each situation is different, there are common warning signs to look out for, including those behaviours listed above. Knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence.

Refer to Types of Abuse for more detailed information.