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How can you recognize abuse?

It can be easy to question how a person stays in a domestic violence situation, but it's not always straightforward. Certain actions that you may not consider to be abuse are, and others actions could be threatening or dangerous, forcing a person to stay in a relationship out of fear for their lives or the lives of others.

Recognizing abuse is the first step. Domestic violence doesn't just include physical violence. It can also include controlling a person or extreme jealousy. Some other kinds of domestic abuse include controlling what a person sees or who a person can visit, making a person feel afraid or constantly criticizing someone.

If you feel that your family member has been victimized, it's important to know what to say. Instead of giving advice or criticizing his or her choices, imagine being in his or her position. Reach out and say what behaviors you have seen that bothered you. Make statements about how you wouldn't allow a person to treat you in ways you've seen him or her get treated.

You can also make sure that your loved one knows that he or she has somewhere to turn if he or she decides it's time to leave. Open your home, provide resources or connect them with a domestic violence hotline.

Remember, it can be dangerous for a person to leave a violent situation, so creating a safety plan is necessary unless the situation is so violent that leaving immediately is the only option. A domestic violence advocate, attorney or other legal professional can help provide protection through safety plans including court orders for protection and other necessities.

Source: CGADV, "Is This Abuse?," accessed Nov. 23, 2016

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