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Know the Signs of Domestic Violence and Abuse


While relationships can be difficult, there is never an excuse for physical, sexual, emotional or financial abuse between partners. Unfortunately, domestic abuse remains common across the country and victims can feel powerless to do anything about. In addition to the outright abuse, victims often trapped in the situation due to financial restraints placed on them by their abusers. They may also be scared to ask for help. However, once help is offered, leaving the abusive situation can become a more apparent option.

If you have a friend or family member you think is being abused, get to know the signs. Speak with your friend and let them know there are resources to help them leave the situation and gain protection from their abuser. At Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC, we understand how difficult it is for victims of domestic abuse to gain the strength and courage to change their lives. We are here to help in any way we can, such as by seeking protective orders. We also have relationships with abuse prevention organizations, counselors, and physicians who can help gather evidence of abuse to support requests for protective orders.

Signs of Physical Abuse

It can be difficult to tell if a friend or family member is being physically abuse. Not all abuse leaves physical indications. However, even if the violence does not leave a mark or lead to an injury, it could still be found to be physical abuse. Some signs that your friend may be a victim of physical abuse include:

  • Physical signs such as bruises, red marks, scratches or cuts
  • Odd explanations for injuries
  • Wearing inappropriate clothing for the weather
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sudden mood changes
  • Crying easily
  • Losing interest in normal activities or hobbies
  • Sudden or increased isolation from friends and family
  • Not having access to his or her own vehicle
  • Low self-esteem
  • Being afraid of his or her partner’s temper
  • Being cautious not to make his or her partner jealous

When you are worried that a friend or family member is being abused, you can also look for signs in the person perpetrating the abuse, such as:

  • Being overly critical of your friend, and doing so in front of others
  • Is easily jealous
  • Issues nonverbal threats
  • Name calls and swears at your friend
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol
  • Breaks objects
  • Dismisses your friend’s feelings
  • Decides when your friend can go out or see other friends and family
  • Controls your friend’s ability to go out on his or her own
  • Becomes violent by pushing, shoving, hitting, or choking

Signs of Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is just as real and serious as physical violence. While your friend’s partner may not be violent, your friend may still be suffering from manipulative, controlling, and demeaning behavior. If you are worried your friend or family member is being emotionally abused, look out for:

  • Verbal abuse like yelling and name calling
  • The partner causing humiliation, particularly in front of people
  • The partner blaming your friend
  • Forced isolation from friends and family
  • Low self-esteem
  • Implied or non-verbal threats
  • The partner using intimidation to get what he or she wants
  • Financial control

Consider a Protective Order

If your friend or family member is being abused, he or she can seek a protective order in court. First, he or she may need to seek an emergency protective order. Most likely however, he or she will need additional, longer protection and a continued protective order may be sought. This will last for 15 days or until a full hearing can be schedule. At a full hearing, which the alleged abuser must be notified of and can come to, we can seek a protective order lasting 2 years. Once a protective order is established, the abuser will only be allowed contact per the Court’s order.

For more information, contact the Leesburg domestic violence attorneys of Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.


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Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC maintains an office in Loudoun County in the Town of Leesburg. We welcome inquiries from throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia and beyond.

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