Frequently asked questions: The signs of relationship abuse and how to help

know the signs of relationship abuse.

Violence against women is a human rights violation that takes place every single day around the world. Globally, one in three women experiences physical or sexual violence, mostly by an intimate partner. While domestic violence and abuse are sometimes hidden, if we know the signs of an abusive relationship, we may be able to recognize it better and seek or offer help.

What are some common signs of abuse?

  • Your partner keeps track of everything you do. They monitor where you are and whom you are with at all times. They prevent or discourage you from seeing friends, family, or going to work or school.
  • You partner insists that you reply right away to their texts, emails, and calls, and demands to know your passwords to social media sites, email, and other accounts.
  • An abusive partner may act jealous, including constantly accusing you of cheating. They may attempt to control how you spend money and your use of medications or birth control. They may make everyday decisions for you, such as what you wear or eat.
  • They may be demeaning. They may put you down by insulting your appearance, intelligence, or interests. They may try to humiliate you in front of others and attempt to destroy your property or things that you care about.
  • An abusive partner may act angry or have a quick or unpredictable temper, so you never know what might cause a problem. They may blame you for their violent outbursts and physically harm or threaten harm to you, themselves, and members of your household, including children or pets.
  • They may hurt you physically, such as hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting. They may use, or threaten to use, a weapon against you.
  • They may be sexually abusive, including rape or other forced sexual activity. They may incorrectly assume that consent for a sex act in the past means that you must participate in the same acts in the future. They may also incorrectly assume that consent for one activity means consent for increased levels of intimacy. For example, an abuser may assume that a kiss should lead to sex every time.
  • An abusive partner may threaten to turn you in to authorities for illegal activity if you report the abuse, or if you resist.

You can talk with someone who has been trained to help by calling a local helpline. Please see a list of resources below.

What are some safety tips if I am experiencing abuse?

If you think you are being abused, seek help. These tips provide guidance on how to find safety and support.

  • Consider sharing your concerns with a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor. Work with them to develop a plan for when you need help. This plan may include, for instance, creating a secret code or multiple code words, sentences, or emojis that would help you communicate more safely with them.
  • Develop an escape strategy, such as saying you need to go to the pharmacy or grocery store and, once there, asking to use the phone to call for help. Think through several plausible reasons for leaving home at different times of the day or night in case you need to escape.
  • If possible, keep a telephone always charged and accessible and know which numbers to call for help: a friend, a family member, or the police. If your life is in danger, call the police if you believe it is safe to do so.
  • Try to identify patterns in your partner’s use and level of violence. This can help you to predict when abuse may escalate.

You can talk with someone who has been trained to help by calling a local helpline. Please see a list of resources below.

To better understand the implications of COVID-19 on women and girls, UN Women Regional Office for the Arab States conducted a web-survey in Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia and Yemen focused on gender roles, attitudes and practices related gender equality and violence against women. Read the study.


From the onset of COVID-19, UN Women Egypt repurposed some of its key programme strategies and introduced new ones to support the Government’s measures to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on women and girls. Read more.














What can I do to help someone I know who is experiencing abuse?

If you are concerned about a friend who may be experiencing domestic violence or abuse or feels unsafe around someone, review these tips on how to help them find safety and support.

  • If you are worried about a friend’s safety, stay in touch and be creative. Avoid making the abuser suspicious so that communication lines can stay open. If you both have children, for example, you can suggest joint calls between both yourselves and the kids. You can create secret code words to use in conversations that can help you communicate more safely.
  • Ask your friend how they prefer to connect. It is important to establish a safe communication channel since they will be, in many instances, physically close to the abuser who might be monitoring conversations. Ask them if they prefer an instant message or text over a call, and if there is a specific platform or app they prefer to use.
  • Be supportive and believe them. Reassure them that they are not alone and that help and support are available. Recognize that it may be difficult for them to talk about the abuse. If they want to talk, listen carefully and be empathetic.
  • Help them think through how to stay safe during COVID-19. Help your friend create a plan for lockdown situations. Are there other friends or family they could stay with during this time? Consider helping them to reach out to these people to make a plan.
  • Respect their right to consent. Unless you strongly believe that your friend’s life is in danger, avoid taking actions without their consent. They know the safety risks best, and, therefore, they should be driving any decisions related to the abuse they are experiencing.
  • Respect their privacy. Because of safety issues, stigma, feelings of shame, and victim-blaming that survivors often face, it is critical that their experiences and identity remain confidential, unless they give explicit consent to reveal them.
  • Offer practical assistance and share resources. Let your friend know that you want to help. If you are able, offer them a safe place to stay, transportation, or other forms of support that may increase their safety.

Let your friend know they can talk with someone who has been trained to help. Provide them with information about local services and helplines.


Note: UN Women is not responsible for the information provided by external sources.


1527 (Direction de l’Action sociale) 023 35 14 44 or 0560 100 105 (Réseau Wassila AVIFE)


121 (West Bank and Gaza) or 1-800-500-121 (East Jerusalem) (SAWA)

1800-333-666 in Gaza (WAC Gaza)

1800180160 in Gaza (RCS Gaza)

Directory of services for women experiencing violence in Palestine


80008001 (hotline for women subject to domestic violence)


1100 (Ministry of Social Development)


1517 (Centre de Conseil sur les Violences Basées sur le Genre: Union Nationale des Femmes Djiboutiennes)

Saudi Arabia



Complaints Office of the National Council for Women:

Hotline: 15115

Tel: 01126977444 - 01126977333 - 01126977222



2181 Run by Northern Frontiers Youth League Mogadishu

+252 63 4112760 MESAF,

+252 63 4409204 WAAPO,

+252 634527135 SOSTAN,

2524401220 MESAF TOGDHER,

2524452022 MESAF BORAMA,

252634433300 MESAF SAHIL,



0025263 4478390 MESAF ERIGAVO,

0025263 4478390 MESAF LAS'ANOD



497 (Community Police)

139 (Family Protection Unit)

119 (Ministry of Interior of Kurdistan Region of Iraq - General

Directorate of Combating Violence Against Women (GDCVAW)


National & Khartoum State - Phone calls:

0930008057 / 0930008061 / 0930008058 0930008059 / 0930008054

National & Khartoum State - WhatsApp:

0930008061 / 0930008062

Other States - Phone calls:

0960609986 / 0113475576 / 0909900559 0907847780 / 0115107555 / 0928097778


0930008053 / 0930008052

0930008049 / 0930008051

(all run by Combating Violence Against Women Unit (CVAW), Ministry of Labour and Social Development)


00962 6 567 5729 (Jordanian Women’s Union)

911 (Public Security Directorate)

0798812594 & 0797037396 (Institute for Family Health)

0770520146 &0777610362 (International Rescue Committee)

110 (Azraq Camp)

064129445 (Jordan River Foundation and FPD)


9416 (hotline located in the Family Protection Unit under the umbrella of the Syrian Commission for Family Affairs and Population/ SCFAP)


147 (Family Protection Hotline)

012075242 (Committee for Protection from Domestic Violence)


1899 (ligne verte contre les violences faites aux femmes en Tunisie)

1809 (ligne verte pour les enfants et familles)

80 105 050 (Médecins volontaires)

Liste des services pour les femmes victimes de violence en Tunisie


1745 (Internal Security Forces)

+961 81 78 81 78 (24/7 ABAAD Helpline)

+961 03 018 019 (KAFA helpline for women victims of violence)

Directory of available services for women experiencing violence in Lebanon.


Ewa’a Shelter for Women and Children:

Tel: +971 2 558 4812


Hotline: 8007283 - 800SAVE


Dubai Foundation For Women and Children:

Tel: 04-6060300


Helpline: 800111

SMS: 5111



1417 (Psychosocial Support Team and Ministry of Social Affairs)



AMAN Protection and Rehabilitation Center:


8350 (Union Nationale des Femmes Marocaines)

Télécharger aussi l’application Kolonamaak

19 (Police)

177 (Gendarmerie Royale)

Recours associatifs et institutionnels disponibles pour les femmes victimes de violence


8000084 Ministry of social affair and labor (MOSAL)

8000999 Yemen Women Union (YWU)

8000606 DEEM for Development

8000202 Psychiatric Care Foundation (PCF)

136 Family Counseling & Development Foundation (FCDF)

8000686 Raymah Foundation for Development &Humanitarian Response (RFDH)

776277633 (RH services -Sa'ada)

776010596 (RH services- Ibb )

77277631 ( RH services- Al-Dhalae)

776010588 (RH services- Al-Hudydah)

777550490 /06511345 (GBV services-Dhamar)

772900025 (Women Prisoners services)

8004040 (Child protection) 775388889 (GBV services Sa'ada)

771773882 (GBV services)

777791241 (GBV services - Al-Jaw)

770873585 (GBV services)

773150365(GBV services)