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Watch for signs of relationship abuse

Domestic violence is an ever-growing problem in intimate relationships. Almost daily, the news reports a man abusing then murdering his wife or a woman killing her husband and trying to make it look like an accident.

Whether it is a married couple or a newly dating couple, knowing the signs for future violence is necessary for the protection of either person.

Although domestic abuse happens more often to women, men have been victims as well. Even if your relationship starts out nice from the beginning, the abuse can start off subtly and then grow. Such violence can take many forms including emotional, physical and mental abuse.

Some warning signs can be easy to spot and others are not as simple because we dismiss certain behaviors as mood swings.

Signs of violence or abuse include when your partner calls you names, puts you down or makes you feel bad about yourself. Anyone who does not appreciate everything you are and makes you feel inferior to them is going to hurt you in the near future, either physically or emotionally.

Any partner who stops you from going to work or school or prevents you from doing your daily activities is controlling you and therefore abusing you mentally.

The more obvious signs of violence are the physical ones and the victims usually act sooner. If your partner hits, kicks, shoves or hurts you or your children, or assaults you when you are not paying attention to make up for a difference in strength, seek help immediately.

Anyone who blames you for the abuse you receive is not going to change their actions. The abuser may apologize and promise to change by offering bribes, but the cycle will repeat itself and eventually can prove fatal.

Domestic violence can leave the victim depressed and can even trigger suicide attempts. Because men are typically stronger than women, men who are being abused are less likely to report incidents because they fear ridicule.

If you feel you are being abused, do not ignore your instincts. Start by telling someone, whether it is a friend, relative, health care provider or close contact. You may find it difficult to talk about the abuse, but you will also feel relief that you are receiving the support.

Your friends, however, may suggest you leave the abuser immediately. But it can be more dangerous to do it without precautions. Call a domestic hotline when the abuser is not around and cannot track your phone call. Then pack an emergency bag with everything you will need and know exactly where you are going and how you will get there.

The national domestic violence hotline is 1-800-799-SAFE and will provide crisis intervention and referrals to resources.

Domestic violence can have devastating effects. Although you may not be able to cease the behavior, you can seek help and get out. Nobody deserves to be abused.

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