How to Spot the Signs

What does an abusive relationship look like?

Domestic violence can take many forms, Our Watch explains.

Abuse can be:


Includes punching, slapping or shaking, destroying property, throwing things, locking a woman in or out of the house, physical restraint, trying to strangle or choke, or driving dangerously.


Controlling how a partner spends their money. This may include forbidding her from working, or limiting the amount of petrol in the car — which, particularly in remote or rural locations, also has the effect of isolating the victim.

Emotional and/or psychological

Can include putdowns, disrespectful language, jokes at the partner's expense or making her feel guilty, withholding affection, manipulation, undermining her choices, shifting the blame for abuse, and 'gaslighting' (manipulating her to make her doubt her own sanity or perception). For women on temporary or spousal visas, psychological abuse may include threats to cancel her visa or have her deported, says Ms Carey.


Might involve physical abuse such as rape or forced sexual acts, but can also include non-physical abuse such as saying they're only good for sex.


Dictating who the partner can and can't spend time with, which may involve using jealousy to justify the perpetrator's actions.


Disrespecting a partner's religion or not letting them practise their religion.


Using a phone or other technology to control, embarrass or demean a partner. This includes monitoring the person's communication without their knowledge.

The Domestic Violence Resource Center Victoria has a quiz which can help you to spot the signs of abuse: