Understanding Indicators of Domestic Abuse & Violence

Abusers damage mobile phones to isolate victims

Abusers prey on the vulnerable, seeking out those who are easy targets due to their personality traits or life situations. Once they’ve found their next supply, they formulate a plan to deceive the victim into believing they have met their soulmate, the love of their life, and their affection is genuine, creating a picture of a wonderful everlasting future filled with dreams of deeper love, marriage, shared passions, and even early retirement.

This is the love bombing stage. The chosen person won’t be aware of the full extent of domestic abuse, that their new partner is using covert manipulation. The victim-to-be will believe the ‘off days’ are part of a normal relationship – and may not realise that the beautiful future offered is a trick, will never happen and is too good to be true.

What lies ahead is unimaginable abuse that worsens over time, theft of your money, destroying your belongings, threatening, hurting or killing your pet, controlling and terrifying you into submission – and finally, may end in your death at the hands of the person who once declared a fantastic future with you.

It’s important to understand that domestic abuse can affect individuals of every sexuality, and all genders, including men.

On average, 2 women a week are killed by a current or former partner in England and Wales.
If you are afraid of your partner, always call 999 in an emergency.

93% of defendants in domestic abuse cases are male; 84% of victims are female.
And yet, women are three times more likely to be arrested for incidents of abuse.

Domestic abuse can lead women to suicide.
It is estimated that around 3 women a week die by suicide as a result of domestic abuse.”


An outline of domestic abuse and violence

Domestic abuse and violence are about hidden and chilling torment, manipulation, control, theft and eventually violence, leading many victims to be murdered or commit suicide.

Often, this extreme and terrifying behaviour lurks unnoticed by outsiders. To those outside the relationship, the couple displays happiness and is perceived to be the perfect couple and the secret abuser, liked by all. Beyond the physical scars, there exists many forms of abuse that seep into the very fabric of daily existence, eventually leaving victims emotionally and psychologically broken and in fear for their own lives.

From the tactics of gaslighting and emotional manipulation to the coercive control that suffocates individuals, domestic abuse remains a dark, tormented secret, where the boundaries between love and cruelty blur into a nightmarish landscape of power, imbalance and fear.

The narcissist is a master of covert manipulation, adept at weaving a web of deceit that traps their unsuspecting prey. It begins with the intoxicating allure of love bombing, where they shower their target with adoration and affection, gifts – sometimes adopting a pet from a rescue centre for you – painting a seductive picture of a future filled with passion and promise. Yet, beneath this facade of charm lies their true self—a cold, calculating manipulator driven by an insatiable thirst for control and admiration. Slowly but surely, the mask begins to slip, revealing the narcissist’s true colours as they begin continual gaslighting, emotional abuse, and manipulation to assert their dominance and undermine their victim’s sense of self-worth. In the end, what once seemed like a perfect match, a soulmate, the romance transforms into a nightmare of psychological torment and emotional devastation at the hands of a ruthless predator.

My reality – I believed in him and his generosity and kindness in the first fifteen months of living in our own homes. When I first moved in with him, I walked on air. After the first three weeks under his roof, having sold my home, his true nature revealed itself. It was a shock. He was a different person. With his narcissistic behaviour and the deepening extremities of abuse and torment, I was broken mentally with thoughts of suicide within five months of living together.

Join me on TikTok, YouTube and listen to an interview about the early stages of unsuspecting domestic abuse.

Identifying the different forms of domestic abuse in a relationship

Domestic abuse and the effect. Domestic abuse and pets
Me, early 2023

Emotional and psychological abuse includes a wide range of manipulative tactics aimed at undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and control until isolation from everything previously known is complete.

Forms of abuse can include:

  • Jealousy
  • Isolating you from friends and friends
  • Name-calling
  • Gaslighting they’ll cunningly shift blame onto your behaviour and you’ll believe them
  • Threats to harm your pet indirectly or directly
  • Claiming your pet doesn’t like or love you anymore
  • Trapping you in the relationship by making you feel you have no-where to turn or go to
  • Manipulative and or degrading behaviour in public
  • Being dismissive of your feelings
  • Playing mind games
  • Withholding affection and conversation or responding to punish you
  • Constant criticism
  • Giving expensive gifts citing love, then using them as leverage over you
  • Insulting you for the gifts you give or refusing the gifts you thoughtfully bought
  • Physical abuse which becomes more extreme and life-threatening

The abuser cunningly cultivates dependency and control, thwarting numerous attempts to escape. The trauma of abuse gradually depletes a sense of self, leaving a person a mere shadow of their former self, successfully convincing that person to that regaining control of their own life is impossible.

Even without pets involved, the tactics employed by the abuser take a severe toll on mental health, looks and physical well-being. Taking the step to seek help becomes a terrifying prospect, fueled by the fear of potential retribution and punishment from a partner or spouse.

Watch my #short: The Narcissist Will Destroy Your Looks

In these bewildering circumstances, the victim is trapped in a constant state of uncertainty, navigating through the abuser’s ever-changing rules, boundaries and sudden change into their dark personality, especially if a partner drinks alcohol. Every victim will stumble over invisible lines time and again, never quite sure where they stand, and continue walking on ‘eggshells’ for fear of further retribution. The rules that a narcissist applies are abnormal but vital to the abuser. The changes in the abuser can be sudden, swinging from calmness and kindness to any form of abuse.

When an outburst of abuse or physical violence, however minimal, occurs, it weighs heavily on a victim and deep inside you battle between love for the man or woman met at the beginning, believing the words still uttered, without realising these words are lies and used to further control you.

But in reality, the notion and need to escape the unrelenting abuse begins to form in the mind because of the realisation that this love isn’t as it should be, and coping becomes harder – the realisation that life is a prison, the constant degradation and shame part of daily life. Energy and strength of mind are depleted, and if the abuser has an inkling of you withdrawing and not answering excitedly about the future, it may take two paths – you’ll be reminded that you have nothing or as punishment, the abuse will award you with the silent treatment, which is as frightening as the abuse.

One day, something will click – it’s time to leave. It’s essential to keep your exit strategy closely guarded. Unfortunately, there have been tragic instances where men and women have lost their lives when their abuser discovered plans.

Watch my #short: Suicide, Fear, Shame, being Trapped

Types of domestic abuse and violence

1: Coercive control is a method of covert manipulation, which begins during the love bombing stage but may not be realised. As the relationship and trust from the ‘victim’ develops, the control increases. Abusers follow similar traits but may act in a different order to control the victim and their life. As time passes, a victim becomes submissive and broken mentally. This gradual process from the abuser gives way to increasing power over you, and in turn, makes the abuser feel empowered.

This is not love. Someone who loves another wants the best for them.

My reality: Gradually your world is reduced until virtually all freedom classed as normality is relinquished. Another type of control I found was being unable to walk into town alone, or going upstairs alone in our home and being asked where I was and what was I doing. I was allowed to speak to two friends once I’d confirmed we did not speak about us – this was the truth because I was too ashamed to tell them what my life had become. My sister has a strong personality and my abuser would do all he could to stop the phone calls between us.

2: Physical abuse can develop into subtle threats and intimidation tactics. Initially, it might manifest as seemingly harmless Chinese burns or pinching, often dismissed by the abuser as jokes or products of the victim’s imagination (gaslighting). However, these early signs can quickly escalate into more severe forms of violence, including actual physical harm and even threats of death. It’s crucial to understand that physical abuse is never acceptable and should never be tolerated in any form of relationship.

This is not love. When a person loves you, they never threaten you, show you how they can hurt you, or physically harm you.

My reality: The Chinese burns and pinching began three months after I moved in and explained as part of his fun nature. Looking back, the powerful hugs around my waist were a form of abuse – I believed he wanted to hold me and was too strong. I’d say I couldn’t breathe and laugh it off, and so did he. As the months passed, the physical abuse increased into acts more pronounced and dangerous. And so did the attempt to stop me from breathing.

3: Sexual abuse is a grave violation. Repeated rape or coerced sexual acts without consent should never happen. Other abuse can be forcing you to have sex with others despite an abuser’s jealousy – however, this may turn full circle and develop into physical abuse because an abuser’s mind is never normal and they may target you for then having sex elsewhere. You can never win with a narcissist and to try makes matters worse. As different stages of abuse continue and deepen, so does the emotional and psychological trauma on the victim, leaving lasting scars that can be difficult to heal.

This is not love. Sexual intimacy should be enjoyed by two consenting individuals.

4: Financial abuse is a method of control that targets a victim’s economic independence and security. Abusers often manipulate and control finances, withholding funds as a form of punishment or restricting access to resources. This may include stealing money (even from a house sale), removing credit cards, pressuring the victim to reduce their working hours or even preventing them from working altogether so income and freedom are removed. By exerting control over financial resources, abusers effectively limit the victim’s ability to assert independence and escape the abusive relationship.

This is not love. A partner or spouse will never steal your money, access your bank accounts, or stop you from working. They are happy that you are happy, to have freedom and income.

My reality: As early as the love bombing stage, the idea of an early retirement was raised. We were both in our fifties. He had retired, but, I preferred my independence and wages.

He love-bombed me further by explaining he would give me money monthly to live on. Yes, I briefly wondered why someone would offer this when our relationship was in the first few months. However, I still believed I’d met my soulmate and he wanted the best for me instead of it being a ‘too good to be true’ scenario.

He also initiated a conversation about my car. We only needed one car, he said and suggested mine be sold and from the proceeds, and I use the money as a top-up with the funds he would give me. My car was my freedom and my family lived in a different county.

I was lucky in that the proceeds from my house sale were never stolen. My saving grace was his lack of technology. However, money disappeared from my purse.

Five months after moving in, I resigned from my job because of the covert manipulation and the abuse was affecting my mental health. He continued insisting my car be sold and continuously checked We Buy Any Car for its value. Days before I fled in 2023, he tried a different tactic – I sell my car and he would give me his free of charge, and he would buy a van to sell his bags of kindling to locals. By then I knew it was another attempt to isolate me, to limit my freedom, and I knew he would change his mind about giving me his car or buying a van. At this time, my family were also planning my escape.

Signs to look out for in a friend, colleague, neighbour, family member

Abusers damage mobile phones to isolate victims
My iPhone 11 Pro Max

“You do not have to wait for an emergency situation to find help. If domestic abuse is happening to you, it’s important to tell someone and remember you’re not alone.”

NHS – Domestic violence and abuse

Of course, to notice changes in a friend, a neighbour, a family member or a colleague, it is about taking note. A person suffering from domestic abuse and violence in the home may be a topic not thought of or the depth of cruelty involved.

The following are a few signs to look for:

1: Wearing heavy makeup – A person who suddenly wears more makeup could be hiding bruises, although an abuser is clever and uses physical force on areas of the body unseen by others. The art of manipulation, control and overall psychological abuse takes its toll and hidden beneath makeup will be hallowed dark shadows.

Watch my #reels on TikTok: Domestic Abuse Awareness

2: Is that person wincing with pain – A common body location from an abuser is the chest. The victim will walk slower, hold their chest when coughing to reduce pain and show sudden pain when sneezing. This is an example of my injury but injuries will be to arms, legs, and stomach.

2: Clothing style has changed – Baggy clothes, and long-sleeved garments in hot weather can be a sign of someone hiding bruises or feeling the need to wrap up as a form of protection.

3: Being startled easily – I’ve been free of my relationship for a year and if someone approaches me unseen from behind, I still jump. Is someone you know nervous and jumping easily?

4: Being afraid or anxious about a partner – This can cover various areas – the need to get home and anxiety if not leaving a location on time. Worried if you are away too long. Afraid of speaking on the phone. Unrestlessness if a phone call isn’t answered or a text is not replied to, constant texts and phone calls.

5: No longer has a credit or debit card, or a mobile phone – To further isolate victims, a common trait of an abuser is to destroy numerous mobile phones belonging to the victim. Credit and debit cards, offering freedom, may be destroyed.

Always back up photographs from your mobile phone on to your iCloud or Google Drive and hide the log ins.

“Almost certainly. Most mobiles use lithium batteries, which are highly reactive. You will either get a very fierce fire, or more likely an explosion. Various combustion products are harmful to the environment, and possibly directly to humans as well. In many countries, burning electronic equipment is a criminal offence.

Putting it another way: don’t do it!

R.L. – Former Electronics Technician post on Quora

My reality: The photograph shown beneath the title is my iPhone 11 Pro Max. A common trait of a narcissistic abuser is destroying anything that gives you contact with the outside world. He threatened to put my head in the multi-fuel burner after my mobile phone had finished burning, forcing me to watch whilst pinning me down on my chest with his weight.

This mobile phone was photographed by the police.

6: Withdrawn and unengaged – A person who was once bubbly or chatty person has probably become withdrawn and quiet. The eyes can tell a great deal, as you can see in the photograph of me. The person in question may drift off during conversations.

As time passes in a relationship, the confusion when a partner or spouse uses gaslighting (turning the blame onto you) is mind-boggling and eventually, the victim believes they are the bad person. But even the emotional, verbal and overall psychological abuse takes its toll, and the victim is lost in their own mind, which churns relentlessly with the bad memories, the knowledge of repeated abuse, the fear, the wanting it all to stop. It never ends whilst within the confines of an abusive relationship.

7: Always apologetic – Us Brits are known for always apologising but someone being abused will apologise for anything – at home the victim is blamed for everything. The victim will be suffering repeated degradation verbally; it doesn’t have to be physical. Away from the abuser, the victim will feel a need to apologise for circumstances nothing to do with them because they have been programmed to believe they are useless and worthless too.

8: Crying easily – Whether with the abuser or not, the victim is where the abuser wants that person to be – broken, and submissive. Crying gives the abuser empowerment. They are achieving their goal. Their love was never real so never expect to be taken in their arms to make you feel better or receive a a geniune apology.

The feeling of helplessness, worthlessness, living in prison, walking on eggshells, and the fear that within a single second, any form of abuse will begin again, makes you cry easily.

My reality I cannot tell you how often I retreated to the bathroom to cry. Or how many times I would sob, with the noise from the shower drowning out the sound of my tears. I remember one occasion I tripped over his mobile phone cable and fell into the wall – he called me a ‘c**t’. That word, unconcerned that I could have hurt myself, the lack of apology, cuts you deep inside. Imagine a person placing a mobile and cable as more important than the person they proclaimed to love.

I found I cried easily at work too. Not all the time but the tears came, and this is another reason to take note of a colleague or employee.

9: Is the employee reducing working days – Some companies have Domestic Abuse and Violence in their company policy. The Domestic Abuse Act 2021 has been updated following from lockdown. This type of abuse is becoming more widely known and staff and superiors need to be observant, understand the signs, and be there to assist. Equally, an abuser may be an employee.

My reality – Looking back, because he was retired, he could fall in around my working hours. However, I believed in his love for me and assumed he wanted to spend more time with me – I was caught up in his love for me – but I enjoyed my job wedding planning, prided myself on independence and never planned to leave my job. I didn’t realise how much of a toll being in a relationship with him was causing me during the first few months of living with him. Eventually resigning my from job gave him financial control.

10 – Screaming, shouting and crying from next door – In 2024, a neighbour called the police because of screaming and shouting next door. The female locked herself into the bathroom but the abusive partner threatened to kill her dog if she didn’t come out. She left the safety of the bathroom – the partner strangled her.

She survived and he was arrested. And yes, her dog survived too.

The person who called 999 saved the life of a woman and her dog who were in a domestic abuse relationship.

You might be interested in my article The Silent Victims, which gives an insight into life for a pet within a domestic abuse environment.

Watch my #reels on TikTok: Domestic Abuse Awareness

Codewords & safe spaces for victims

Where to get an injunction for domestic abuse

“Victims of domestic abuse are able to use the codeword ANI in participating pharmacies (including all Boots stores and participating independent pharmacies) to let staff know that they require an emergency police response or help contacting a helpline or specialist support service.”

Thames Valley Police

Well-known retailers, banks and smaller businesses have taken part in a scheme which gives victims a Safe Space on their premises using a special codeword to alert staff that help from a domestic abuse and violent situation, is required.

As experienced, it is not always possible to leave the house without a partner or spouse, even grocery shopping – the abuser will not let you. And if your partner leaves the house without you, little time may be available to contact any support services.

An example of Safe Spaces:

  • Boots the Chemist
  • Morrisons pharmacies
  • Superdrug
  • Well pharmacies
  • Independent pharmacies
  • Tesco pharmacies
  • TSB Bank
  • HSBC Bank
  • Santander
  • Metro bank

Use the Safe Space Finder tool – it is simple to use. When safe to do so, enter your postcode to find local safe spaces nearby. Staff will be trained to understand the meaning when someone asks for a Safe Space and help you to safety on the premises. This will be a room to give you time to think, time out, make any necessary phone calls or speak to the police. However, if you need to speak to the police urgently, use ‘ASK FOR ANI’.

Merchandise with contact numbers offering help will be displayed in the Safe Space room. Police also carry cards from the National Centre for Domestic Violence. The image above is the card given to me by the police who attended.

Visit UK Say No More website

My reality My local Boots the Chemist store had a domestic abuse poster in the window with ‘ASK FOR ANI’ standing out. I wanted to go into a safe space but he accompanied me everywhere. And had I gone inside and asked for help and he found out, I was frightened of the repercussions and my geriatric pet was at home.

My suggestion to you is – if you can, put a few things in a handbag. Do this in secret. If possible, pretend you must go to the vet, or walk your dog. Again, I know how difficult it is to get away from an abuser.

Support contact numbers

Help for domestic abuse victims
The police gave me this card

The following is a breakdown of support for male and female victims and training for professionals to help people they encounter.

Please note: Any website related to Domestic Abuse has ‘ESC’ or ‘EXIT’ set up by IT professionals. This means that if your partner or spouse appears, you click on a button and a new page opens up (Google as an example). My website does not have this feature set up. Read more about protecting yourself.

National Centre for Domestic Violence for victims and professionals

“The NCDV aim to help you make an application for an emergency civil protection order within 24 hours from when we contact you.”

Victims: The NCDV offers free assistance with emergency orders and works in conjunction with the police, the courts, and domestic abuse agencies.

My reality My card was given to me by the police on my final night. I didn’t absorb the details and its relevant for several days as I was mentally and physically a mess. The police officer who interviewed my abuser made it clear to him he wasn’t to contact me. He contacted me on my Messenger and email, of which I kept copies but a family member reminded him that he wasn’t allowed to contact me.

My solicitor explained that any issues from my abuser would be escalated with the police because of existing abuse.

Emergency injunction services include:

  • Non-molestation order
  • Prohibited steps order
  • Occupational order
  • Domestic abuse protection order

Complete an online referral form as a professional or victim. Legal Aid is available.

Text: “NCDV” to 60777

Tel: 0800 970 2070

Email: office@ncdv.org.uk

Visit: National Centre for Domestic Violence

Free training for police and other professionals:

“They provide interactive remote training and bespoke in-house training to the police and support agencies, free of charge.”


Training given to police and authorities is between 45 minutes to 1 hour. Unsociable hours are given to police to fit shift patterns. ASSIST database training is available for police only with sessions of 15 minutes. ASSIST is a database accessed by British police 24/7, providing immediate access to certificates of service and injunctions.

Read more about what the training includes and enquire at ncdv.org.uk/training.

Get FREE merchandise with code 100% at ncdv.org.uk/information.

Women’s Aid

Women’s Aid offers refuge help and advice line for women and children. Using the local support tool, you’ll find pet fostering information too.

Chat: Live chat but you need a device (laptop, Tablet, mobile)

Email: info@womensaid.org.uk

Find your local support near you. It’s quick and easy to use. It will also give you details of local support for pet fostering, and any sexual orientation or religion.

Respect – Men’s Advice Helpline

We never think of men suffering in the hands of a female narcissist, or same-sex partner, but it happens. Similar to women, men suffer similar forms of abuse and support is available.

Tel: Freephone 0808 8010 327

Email: info@mensadvicehelpline.org.uk or helpline@womensaid.org.uk

Visit: Respect – Men’s Advice Helpline

The ‘find your local support’ near you under Women’s Aid is available to men too.

Getting your pet into safe fostering

There are charities available with committed foster care available for your pets. These include major charities and small – there are systems in place to protect your identity and the location of your pet. These foster placements offer safety for your pet while you are in a refuge.

Pet Fostering – my article, 4 Foster Care Pet Charities for Domestic Abuse Victims, has a list of charities with information relating to arrangements.

My reality – It took a few months for me to realise I was in a domestic abuse relationship and ironically, back in 2021 I wrote an article about pets and domestic abuse in my newspaper column in Yorkshire. Perhaps subconsciously I knew I was in my own hell. I did not require pet fostering for Tabitha as I had family to stay with down south. Looking back, I now wonder if the windows in adjacent rooms upstairs were left open during minus conditions because my geriatric cat slept upstairs. Her house bed was in the bedroom where we slept, and the windows were closed, but it was always cold. She had a heated mat, hot water bottle, and blankets and I’d cover the house with an elderdown.

Tabitha is safe and well.

Find out if your partner has a criminal past

Clare’s Law, the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, is your Right to Ask and Right to Know – it is formulated to help you or a third party learn, if appropriate, whether your partner or spouse has a criminal history. It can help you make a decision whether to stay or leave.

Of course, someone can be abusive but never be reported to the police. In this case, the police won’t find evidence of abuse.

Read my article about safeguarding you (and your pets).

Visit: Clare’s Law, a successful campaign founded by her father

My reality – I hadn’t heard of Clare’s Law. Embroiled within the confines of domestic abuse, it took 11 months to realise I was possibly in a domestic abuse relationship until verified by a Police officer from Bridlington. Had I submitted an application to my local Police station under the Domestic Violence Disclosure Scheme, the results at that point would be ‘clear’. This was confirmed on my final night of the relationship. He told me he had been arrested by the police three times, but it all lies and aimed to frighten and control me.

For an abuser to flag up on the DVDS, there would need to be an arrest. Should the next person of my ex, or a close friend or relation be concerned, and opt to apply to the DVDS, it is likely that person would be warned.

I was the only girlfriend to report him and I am proud of myself for that.

In memory

In memory of the women, men and pets who needlessly lost their lives.

Until its closure in 2023, Poppy’s Pets had a column in an East Yorkshire newspaper.


The reason I write and make YouTube videos is to help you and your pets from my experiences, and to take you through a journey of Green Living from worm composting and bokashi.

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