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Domestic violence comes in many disguises, but no matter what it is called, it is a crime. No one has the right to make you do something that you don't want to, through coercion or force. How do you know if someone has the potential for abuse? There are some warning signs to watch for when you start dating. Some people exhibit some of the warning signs but never become abusive, so take care and be on the look out.

Do you feel that only you can help your partner escape from bad situations, or help them overcome bad habits? We are not talking about helping your partner out when the car breaks down, or they loose their job, we are talking helping them out of their inability to act as an adult.
Do you know about or suspect that your partner has a drug or alcohol problem? Frequently this will lessen inhibitions against abuse so that when they are under the influence they will be more likely to lash out at you.
Has your partner been in a previous abusive relationship, or more than one? This is a good indication that they will continue, especially if they say that their previous partner "made me do it." They are refusing to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Does your partner have a police record of assault, rape, or sexual abuse? This one speaks for itself. If your partner dislikes you spending time with your friends and family then they are already becoming controlling and you need to reassess the situation quickly.

Is their self-worth based upon your behavior? If it is, then anytime you do something that they feel diminishes them then they may become abusive. Your behavior does not have to reflect upon them for them to feel that it does. If you walk around worried that what you do or say will destroy their self-confidence then it is time to get out.

Are you treated like a person with thoughts and feelings of your own, or like an inanimate possession? Do you have to agree with everything your partner says to avoid a scene or temper tantrum? If so you need to look at your relationship and decide if you want to remain a doormat or grow and become a person in your own right.

Does your partner ignore your wishes when it comes to sex? The word no means no. If they can't handle you saying no, then they have a much deeper problem.

Domestic violence can make you feel helpless and useless, as if you caused the person to abuse you. No one deserves to be hit or verbally abused. If you think you are in an abusive relationship, get out, leave, don't stop to question why, just go. There are shelters, there are friends and family, it doesn't matter much where you go, just go. If you have children it becomes even more important that you go. Even if they do not receive abuse they are affected by it.

Counseling will sometimes work, but only if the abusive person is truly willing to change. Change must come from within. If you are asking yourself if you are in an abusive relationship then you probably need to seek counseling, and/or get out of that relationship. Do it for you, do it for your friends and family.