Have you ever been threatened by someone you live with? Have you ever been struck or kicked by someone you love while in your home? Does it seem like you walk on egg shells when he/she is in “one of those moods”? Have you ever felt torn between going or staying with someone who you love who has threatened to harm or has harmed you? Do you feel you are on a roller coaster of fear, hope, dread, calm, and destruction with someone you live with? On the giving end…Do you find yourself flying off the handle for no apparent reason? Have you thrown things in anger or frustration? Ever get so stressed out that you say or do things you regret later? Have you found yourself making promises to not act so outraged ever again? If you’ve answered “yes” to any or many of these questions, you are not alone. Domestic violence or domestic abuse is more frequent than many people think or realize and becomes very disruptive in relationships especially in the home scene. We have counseled many clients who have had or are dealing with domestic distress issues and at times when the home has become a place of violence instead of peace and safety.  There is hope in getting through what you are facing.

sad-468923__180If you feel stuck and not sure what to do, we can help. Whether you struggle with managing your anger or you are in an abusive relationship, we have counselors available with various backgrounds and experiences ready to address your distress.

In the beginning experiences of domestic violent situations, there may be subtle or varying degrees of intensity with anxiety, worry, frustration, confusion, sadness, misery, anger and stress in the relationship and may over time escalate to physical violence. There are signs you need to look for in order to recognize what is going on in order to protect yourself and the ones you love. Let’s first look at 5 major signs then we’ll identify 3 proactive actions you can do.

Signs of Domestic Violence (DV)

Empty promises

Many times people find themselves in relationships where they may want the best in themselves and for the one they love yet in order to keep them around or to try and meet expectations of the other, empty promises are made. You may be the one giving the promises or the one receiving these “promises”.  You may hear such comments like, “Do worry, it won’t happen again”, “I’m just over worked…we’ll go out on a date tomorrow”, “Everybody blows off steam I’ll replace the lamp when I go to the store”, “So I had a few beers, so what. I’ll have enough to pay rent in a couple of weeks”. “I’m sorry I hurt your feelings…we’ll get through this when you know what I want from you”. These and other such comments or phrases seem to cycle in conflictual relationships.


Manipulation can take on many forms such as use of guilt or shaming, questioning motives, blaming the other spouse / partner for relationship problems, possessiveness, outright lies, sulking, grumbling or complaining about how things are done or not done to his/her desire. This may seem simple at first and part of learning to understand each other. However, more and more demands, “rules”, deception, and half-truths come out in those who manipulate others for their own control, gratification and benefit. Those who manipulate may be jealous, question their partner’s motives and behavior in many situations and may also be looking to control the partner whether with intimidating comments or gestures.  Verbal abuse may also be considered a form of manipulation such as in the form of put downs, backhanded comments (such as “You can’t do anything right”, “You’re the reason why we have problems”, “You’re so stupid”) are often said. Some may feel like there is a “tug-of-war” emotionally in the relationship as communication breaks down, up and down moods persist, whining happens a bit too often to not notice, and many other of subtle forms of manipulation.


Many times isolation begins to occur with fewer and fewer social events. Friends don’t come by alone_on_bench-235672_150much or you find yourself not hanging out with friends or family as much anymore. Those who had been with you as a social support network seem to be at a greater distance. In order to keep the peace or to not get your spouse/ partner “upset” you may find yourself avoiding any kind of communication with your friends for fear of yelling, questioning or some other form of payback from your spouse / partner. You may find yourself home more and more making sure everything and everyone is “perfect”.  Although being home and having quiet times or times by yourself, domestic violence may brew when one lacks connection with their social support network…those who can be an objective ear, or ones who are on the outside looking in (possibly able to observe things you may not notice).

Threat of violence

This sign is much more overt and scary.  There usually is growing tension in the relationship. Types of threats include posturing (standing over a spouse / partner with fists acting like wanting to hit, or puffing out one’s chest, or blocking a doorway), ultimatums, “do (or don’t do) this or else” statements, slamming or breaking inanimate objects (such as doors, counters, plates, lamps, etc.), pointing to or waving a weapon, and other threats.

Abuse/actual violence

This is when the actual violence occurs. This includes hitting, slapping, punching, jabbing, kicking, pulling/yanking (esp. hair), rape, throwing things at you, etc. Many times the actual abuse or violence occurs after the threat of violence has been expressed but not necessarily. This sign may not be so predictable.

Proactive actions

Seek immediate help

For life threatening or emergency situations, call 911 immediately. However, if you are not in a life threatening situation or emergency but you feel it necessary or it may soon get violent or there is a history of violence, then locate a trusted friend or family member to stay with or call a local domestic violence (DV) shelter to be able to stay at. If you are feeling stuck or feel like you may be in a domestic violent or abusive situation, then call the DV Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or go online to www.thehotline.org.

Counseling, social and community support

Though you may not feel like you are in any danger but you sense that you are in a conflictual, emotionally abusive or otherwise volatile relationship, then seeking help through counseling or community support may be beneficial. Counseling helps you to be able to sort through your own thoughts and feelings, developing your own voice while setting boundaries, and coming up with a plan to best cope with or transition the relationship. Community involvement including support groups may be helpful from a non-professional perspective with others who may be facing or have faced similar situations.

Educate yourself

Research online to learn what you can on the cycle of violence, the nature of DV and what you can do to keep yourself safe. This also helps for you to develop a safety plan or backup plan if or when things get worse in the relationship.  Also locate books, seminars, workshops or presentations about domestic violence, improving communication in the marriage or relationship and other related topics.

We here at Pathways Counseling Services are private, compassionate, and supportive ready to help you sort out your thoughts and feelings related to DV, marriage or relationship problems. Our counselors are educated and experienced with diverse backgrounds, styles, and approaches to meet your counseling needs. You are worthwhile, your emotional and mental well-being is highly esteemed. Be valued and understood by an empathetic, accepting and caring professional. Call us at 520-292-9750 or email joel@pathwaystucson.com