When you're in an abusive relationship, you may feel like you are all alone. Abusive relationships are more common than you may think. Nationwide domestic violence hotlines in the US typically receive 20,000 calls on an average day.

Speech bubbles that read

Growing up, I watched family members struggle in abusive relationships. I have some tips to help you reach out if you, too, are experiencing an abusive relationship.

This icon shows a hand pulling another hand up


Reaching out about relationship abuse is tough. When trying to speak up you may experience mental, physical, and financial roadblocks.

An animation depicting three people individuals with t-shirts that read

Mental Roadblocks

  • Isolation from friends and family

  • Fear of being branded a liar

  • Shame

  • The belief that men cannot be victims

  • Gaslighting

  • Victim shaming

Icon of one individual hitting at another

Physical Roadblocks

  • Physical abuse

  • Retaliation

  • Abuser monitoring emails, devices, and other forms of communications

this icon has a no money sign

Financial Roadblocks

  • Lack of finances

  • No access to transportation

  • Abuser controls resources

This icon shows a roadblock barrier

Identifying the roadblocks for reaching out about abuse can help you come up with a plan to overcome them.

Proof of Abuse

Having proof of relationship abuse can help you be taken seriously, especially if the person you are confiding in is having trouble accepting that your partner is abusive.

John Lithgow saying

Get Proof

  • Avoid being monitored by creating a new email address or leaving evidence with a friend.

  • If possible, use a journal to record abuse and important information like witnesses.

  • Save abusive communications.

  • Take pictures.

Icon of a judge's gavel

Having proof of abuse can also help you take legal action. For example, you can have the proof needed to get a restraining order against your abuser.


How can you get proof of emotional abuse?

Find Someone to Trust

You may feel hesitant to reach out about abuse because you don't know who to trust. Use the following tips to help you find someone to talk to about the abuse you're experiencing.

A woman saying,

Someone You Know

When looking for someone in your life to trust consider the following questions:

  • Do they continue to reach out even when you are isolated or push them away?

  • Have they shown concern for your relationship?

  • Are they reliable?

  • Are they helpful?

Someone You Don't Know

If you don't feel safe talking to someone in your inner circle, consider the following options:

  • abuse hotlines

  • mandatory reporters — like a nurse, doctor, therapist, or teacher

  • local law enforcement

Flaticon Icon

Don't feel discouraged if the other person's reaction isn't what you expected. Some people have a hard time accepting that someone is being abused or that someone they know is abusive. Just make sure to "stay calm and firm in your story."

Find a Safe Space to Communicate

If your partner is controlling, they may be monitoring your phone, emails, or in-person conversations. Finding a safe space where you can talk freely about the abuse you are experiencing is important.

Flaticon Icon

Talk Privately

  • Ask your neighbor to use their phone or computer

  • Buy a prepaid phone

  • Use a friend's phone

  • Create a code word to let others know that you need help

Flaticon Icon

Safe Spaces to Reach Out

  • library

  • community center

  • hospital

  • religious organizations

Flaticon Icon

Look for a place that will not raise your partner's suspicion. This is especially important if your partner is controlling or violent.


Leah's partner is controlling and invades her privacy. What should she consider when looking for a safe space to reach out about the abuse? Select all that apply:


A person holding a phone screen that shows the National Domestic Violence Hotline phone number: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

Check out the resources below for more information:

Take Action

A  man saying


Your feedback matters to us.

This Byte helped me better understand the topic.

Get support to take action on this Byte