relationsIf you have children, being in a healthy relationship is good for them, too.

Women who have trusting, honest, and respectful relationships are healthier. If you have children, being in a healthy relationship is good for them, too. Your children will learn what it means to be in a relationship by watching you.

Relationships won’t always be free of anger or hurt, but you should not feel scared, humiliated, or controlled.

What should I know about abusive relationships?

Abuse can harm you and your baby. It can put you at risk for serious complications, including miscarriage and pre-term labor.

Once your baby is born, the abuse may get worse. The person who is abusing you may abuse your child too. Abuse can take many forms. Examples are:

Physical – any intentional and unwanted contact with you. Examples are:

  • hitting, punching, biting, strangling or kicking
  • pulling your hair or clothing
  • pushing or pulling you

Sexual – any action that pressures or forces someone to do something sexually they don't' want to do. Examples are:

  • unwanted kissing or touching
  • rape or attempted rape
  • keeping someone from protecting themselves from a sexually transmitted infection
  • threatening or pressuring someone into unwanted sexual activity

Emotional/Verbal- includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or "checking in", excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking. Examples are:

  • calling you names
  • putting you down
  • won't let you have friends
  • accuses you of things
  • uses your children to manipulate you
  • ignores you

Financial – telling you what you can and cannot buy or requiring you to share control of your bank accounts. Examples are:

  • keeping you from seeing shared bank accounts or records
  • maxing out your credit cards without your permission
  • refusing to give money, food, rent money, medicine or clothing

Digital- using texting and social networking to bully, harass, or intimidate a partner. Often this is a form of verbal or emotional abuse that is done online. Examples are:

  • sending you negative, insulting or threatening emails, text messages or other messages online
  • steals your passwords or makes you give them your passwords
  • looks through your phone often and checks pictures, texts and outgoing calls

How do you know if you're in an abusive relationship?

Most couples argue from time to time but violence and any abuse are different from the day to day conflicts that couples have. If you recognize any of the physical, sexual, emotional, financial or digital abuse descriptions you may be in an unhealthy relationship. Once you realize this, there are many things you can do.

Help is available

If you think you, or someone you love, is in an unhealthy relationship, or is having difficulty after experiencing sexual assault, there are places you can go for help. 

The Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence has information on finding help in your county. Or, you can call the Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-562-6025 to ask questions or be connected to your local advocacy program.

The Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs (WCSAP) has information on finding help in your county. Or, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-HOPE (4673) to ask questions or be connected with your local advocacy program. 

What should you expect when you call a sexual assault or domestic violence hotline? 

Advocates who answer sexual assault and domestic violence hotlines are knowledgeable about the broad range of experiences when dealing with these issues. The person who answers the phone will:

  • believe you
  • listen to you without judgment
  • help you work through the questions you have
  • let you know what other services they provide or are available in your community

Your conversation, and any follow-up work you may do with an advocate, is always confidential and free of charge. No one from these programs will release any of your information without written permission.

Need help in another language?

The toll-free Peace in the Home Helpline offers one-call access that connects limited-English speaking domestic violence victims to a community-based agency in the Seattle-King County area that can serve their language and service needs. Callers can get help in 14 languages. Call the Peace in the Home Helpline at 1-888-847-7205.  Many local programs have bilingual advocates and most hotlines have access to interpreter services via phone.