The #SeeTheSigns social media campaign launched in November 2013 to educate people about the signs of domestic violence during the 16 Days of Activism. People were able to share images of the signs on social media. Those signs, many of them less obvious, are featured below. The Avon Foundation for Women recognizes that both women and men can be domestic violence victims. The campaign positions the woman as the victim in several of our signs. This choice is in no way intended to indicate that abuse is limited to women.

Although many advances have been made in the fight to end gender violence since the first International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in 1981, many challenges persist. Every minute, 20 people are victimized by an intimate partner through rape, physical violence or stalking in the United States alone1. Over the course of a year, that means more than 12 million women and men will suffer immediate injury, as well as long-term physical, psychological and social consequences.


A friend may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if her partner monitors where she goes, whom she calls and with whom she spends her time.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior with the goal of establishing power and control over the victim through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. It can happen occasionally or continuously and often worsens over time.


Domestic violence is much more than physical abuse. It can include verbal, sexual, mental, and financial abuse. It knows no boundaries: it affects anyone, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men in the U.S. are victims at some point in their lives¹. Which one of your Facebook friends could it be?

To understand attitudes and behavior related to intimate partner violence and bystander feelings and actions, view the “NO MORE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Survey of Attitudes and Experiences of Teens and Adults.” To learn about the prevalence of intimate partner violence by sexual orientation, view this Centers for Disease Control special report. To learn how to safely intervene, view these tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline on how you can help someone who is in trouble.

¹The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010


Domestic violence does not take off for the holidays, and may in fact actually increase during the holidays.

“During the holidays, families spend more time together,” says Ariel Zwang, CEO of Safe Horizon, a New York-based victim services organization that operates nine domestic violence shelters in New York City. “For many families, the holidays increase the potential for violence. The stress of the holidays, gift giving and close quarters with other family members can all factor into violent situations.”


Financial abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power in a relationship. In many cases, the victim is forced to hand over her money or is prevented by her partner from getting or keeping a job. Other forms of financial abuse include limiting access to the family’s credit cards, checking accounts and savings accounts.

“Financial abuse is one of the most powerful methods of keeping a victim trapped in a relationship with a controlling and dangerous partner. Economic abuse and instability deeply diminish a victim’s ability to achieve safety after leaving an abuser. Financial issues caused by the battering make it extremely difficult to gain independence, safety and long term security,” says Kim A. Gandy, President and CEO of the National Network to End Domestic Violence.


Leaving a relationship, no matter how abusive, is always hard to do. It is easy to say “why doesn’t she just leave?” if you’ve never been in an abusive relationship. In fact, the abuser’s tactics—which usually include emotional abuse, economic abuse, threats and manipulation, along with physical violence—are designed to confuse the victim, isolate her from friends and family, and make her economically dependent.

Tragically, domestic violence often escalates when the victim tries to end the relationship or seeks outside help or protection. Many victims reach the conclusion that staying is safer than leaving.

Safety planning for someone involved in an abusive relationship is a necessary and important step. To find out more about leaving an abusive relationship and creating a safety plan, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline website.


Every day, more than three women in the U.S. are murdered by their partner, and for them, happiness ended far too soon¹.

For many who experience domestic violence, the thought of “happily ever after” is far from reality. While physical abuse may be the most obvious danger, emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can leave long term psychological scars, as well as anxiety and depression.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help. For more information on recognizing the signs of abuse, which may include intimidation, as well as sexual, economic and legal abuse — visit the Sanctuary for Families website.

¹Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003


Did you know that 1 in 6 women in the U.S. are stalked by a partner¹? The most common stalking tactic is receiving repeated unwanted telephone calls, voice, or text messages.

Stalking is the unwanted pursuit of another person. It includes repeated harassing or threatening behavior toward another person, whether that person is a slight acquaintance, current or former intimate partner. Stalking can have a devastating impact on victims, including creating stress, anxiety and depression; feelings of vulnerability and self-blame; feeling out of control and a disruption of everyday living routines.

There is a fine line between excessive texting and stalking. To learn more about stalking, visit the Stalking Resource Center, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime. If you or someone you know is being stalked, read Are You Being Stalked, a brochure highlighting actions victims can take to increase their safety.

³The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010


Domestic violence is more than just physical and it is rarely an isolated occurrence. Most often, it is a pattern of coercive behavior intended to exert control and domination over the victim.

“Domestic violence can be psychological, physical, economic or sexual in nature,” says Laurel Eisner, Executive Director of Sanctuary for Families. “Domestic violence incidents usually escalate in frequency and severity. Often in the early stages, the victim may not even realize she or he is in an abusive relationship. By the time the victim does realize, there are often many barriers to leaving.”

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help. For more information on recognizing the signs of abuse, which may include intimidation, as well as sexual, economic and legal abuse — visit Sanctuary for Families.


Domestic violence may not be easy to identify at first and abuse often starts subtly. A friend may be in a verbally abusive relationship if her partner often loses his temper and insults her, accuses her of being dishonest or disloyal, and uses intimidation techniques. 60% of Americans surveyed said they know a victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse¹. Which one of your Facebook friends could it be?

¹NO MORE Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault: Survey of Attitudes and Experiences of Teens and Adults, 2013


Research shows that victims of domestic violence often blame themselves for what’s happened to them. Self-blame is a method of coping and often helps victims regain control of their own environment, mainly because they feel that if they caused this trauma, they can also prevent it from happening next time.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help. For more information on recognizing the signs of abuse, which may include intimidation, as well as sexual, economic and legal abuse — visit Break the Cycle’s Dating 101 website.

24 people per minute experience intimate partner violence in the U.S.¹ Which one of your Facebook friends could it be?

1The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2010


Many women and men who experience abuse stay in the relationship with the hope that their abuser will change and the violence will end. It is important to remember that not all abusive people can or will change, and it’s okay to seek outside advice when questioning the relationship.


Leaving an abusive situation can be incredibly complicated, especially when children are involved. An abuse victim may choose stay in the relationship so the children can grow up with two parents together. Or, he or she may choose to stay if the abusive partner threatens to take or harm the children. It’s never an easy choice1.

However, children who witness domestic violence face immediate risks, which include emotional and psychological trauma and neglect, and long-term consequences, which may include social, behavioral and emotional problems. These symptoms can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts and increased violent behavior. Children who witness or are subject to abuse may carry some or all of these outcomes into adulthood, often repeating the cycle of violence and abuse, and ultimately affecting their well-being and happiness.

“If you are in an abusive relationship, a safety plan should include ways that your children can stay safe when violence is happening in your home. This may include teaching your children when and how to call 911, or showing them how to leave the home in case of an emergency,” says Katie Ray-Jones, President of the National Domestic Violence Hotline.


Many abusers feel that using violence is an accepted strategy to control their family or to get what they want. It is important to remember that the abuser’s behavior is not the victim’s fault, nor can they necessarily fix the situation. An abuser chooses abuse to exert power and control over a partner.

To learn more about dating violence and patterns of abusive behavior, visit Break the Cycle’s Dating 101 website.


Common abuse tactic is to control a victim’s time and contact with others. Control over the victim is often gained through isolation.

If you know or suspect that a family member, friend or colleague is experiencing domestic violence, it may be difficult to know what to do. To learn more about how to talk to your friend or loved one, visit The National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website.

By listening to and believing what they tell you, you can help create a support system that enables them to make the best decisions for themselves and their family.


Domestic abuse is an epidemic that has devastating physical, emotional, financial and social effects on women, men, children, families, and communities around the world. Everyone has a fundamental right to live their lives free from all forms of violence and abuse.

To learn more about Human Rights Day and violations against human rights, visit the United Nations’ website. To learn more about the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence Campaign, visit the Center for Women’s Global Leadership website.