The first step to mitigating instances of domestic violence is to know which signs to look out for.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Previously, we have covered several domestic violence topics as they relate to fair housing. Now, we want to focus on the issue on a broader spectrum.

Domestic violence affects both women and men – every race, religion, culture, and status. And domestic violence is not just about physical contact, it also encompasses yelling, humiliation, stalking, manipulation, coercion, threats, and isolation (mental, emotional, and spiritual). On an even more granular level, it might mean stealing a paycheck, keeping tabs of someone online, non-stop texting and calling (harassment), constant use of the silent treatment, etc. Domestic violence impacts fair housing in the sense that it often impacts an individual’s right to choose and obtain housing free from unlawful discrimination.

Following, we look at many signs of domestic violence and abuse. Knowing how to spot domestic violence might not only help yourself, but those around you. After all, Break the Cycle suggests that nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence.

Signs of Domestic Violence

If you are afraid of your partner, that should stand as an immediate red flag. You may be scared to say what you think, to bring up certain topics, or to say no to sexual encounters. No matter the reason, fear has no place in a healthy relationship. If you feel like you’re being abused, there’s a good chance you may be, and it’s worth getting help. Keep that in mind as you think about these additional signs (curated from WebMD):

A partner bullies, threatens, or controls you:

  • Makes accusations of having an affair
  • Blames abuse on you
  • Criticizes
  • Controls what to wear
  • Threatens to kill you or someone close to you
  • Throws things or punches walls when angry
  • Yells at you

A partner controls your finances:

  • Withholds cash and credit cards
  • Puts you on an allowance
  • Makes you explain every spend
  • Keeps you from working certain jobs
  • Steals money from your accounts
  • Won’t let you have money for basic needs

A partner cuts you off from family and friends:

  • Keeps close tabs on where you go and whom you go with
  • Makes you ask permission to see friends and family
  • Embarrasses you in front of others

A partner physically abuses you:

  • Abandons you
  • Attacks you
  • Keeps you from eating, sleeping, or seeking medical care
  • Locks you in or out of your house
  • Punches, pushes, kicks, bites, pulls hair

A partner sexually abuses you:

  • Forces you to have sex
  • Makes you dress in a sexual way
  • Makes you feel like you owe them sex
  • Tries to give you an STD
  • Won’t use condoms or other birth control

Preventing Domestic Violence

Speak Up

Police officers and authorities hear the same thing from witnesses time and time again and know how to handle it – “I heard/saw/perceived domestic violence but didn’t want to get involved.” If you are involved in or hear your neighbors engaged in a violent situation, call the police. Doing so could save a life.

Additionally, document every incident you witness and include the date, time, location, injuries, and circumstances of the domestic dispute. This information could be very useful in later police reports and court cases, both criminal and civil.

Get the Word Out

Assist a local shelter or domestic violence organization in their efforts to raise awareness throughout your community. Or use your personal connections to start a grassroots campaign. Organize talks at your complex, workplace wellness fair, HOA meetings, and church groups, among other outlets.

If you need assistance or want to talk to someone about domestic violence, call 1-866-331-9474 to speak with a trained peer advocate.

Domestic Violence and Fair Housing

Victims of domestic violence are protected for fair housing under several laws at the local, state and federal levels. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has enacted the Fair Housing Act, among several other legislations, to protect such rights.

At the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center, we offer both legal assistance and ongoing education and outreach to promote a better understanding of fair housing rights and to eliminate housing discrimination through enforcing the federal FHA and other laws. To learn more, please visit us online or contact us at (334) 263-4663.

In addition, anyone who believes she or he has experienced discrimination in housing may file a complaint by contacting HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777. Housing discrimination complaints may also be filed by going to, or by downloading HUD’s free housing discrimination app.