Symptoms and Signs of Domestic Violence

Medical Author: John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
Medically Reviewed on 8/23/2021

Doctor's Notes on Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a relationship in which one individual in a partnership seeks to assert power and control over the other. Domestic abuse is a broad term that involves physical, psychological, economic, and sexual abuse, along with attempts to manipulate the victim through the use of his or her children. The abuser may try to isolate the victim from people who may provide assistance. 

Psychological symptoms of domestic violence include the behavior of both the abused and the abused. An abuser may appear overly controlling or coercive, while the person being abused may appear quiet, passive, and may show outward signs of depression such as crying and poor eye contact. Other psychological signs of domestic violence include anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, suicidal tendencies, and substance abuse. Physical symptoms of domestic violence include injuries such as eardrum rupture, rectal or genital injury; facial scrapes, bruises, cuts, or fractures; scrapes or bruises on the neck, head, body, or arms; abdominal cuts or bruises, or loose or broken teeth, cigarette burns, bite marks, rope burns, bruises, and welts with the outline of a recognizable weapon (such as a belt buckle). Non-injury physical symptoms of domestic violence include headache, neck pain, chest pain, fast heartbeat, choking sensations, numbness and tingling, painful sexual intercourse, pelvic pain, urinary tract infection (UTI), and vaginal pain.

What Is the Treatment for Domestic Violence?

The treatment for domestic violence is multi-facetted and includes medical treatment, social work, and law enforcement. National and state agency contacts are available that may help someone in a domestic abuse situation. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger of being harmed CALL 911.

There are many phone and online-based advocacy and counseling help groups available such as:

National Domestic Violence Hotline

  • Hotline: 1 (800) 799 – 7233
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone and online chat.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) is available for anyone experiencing domestic violence, seeking resources or information, or questioning unhealthy aspects of their relationship.

Love is Respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline

  • Hotline: 1 (866) 331 – 9474
  • Text: 22522
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone, text, and online chat.
  • Love is Respect offers information, support, and advocacy to young people who have questions or concerns about their dating relationships.

StrongHearts Native Helpline

  • Hotline: 1 (844) 762 – 8483
  • Available Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm CST via phone.
  • The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a safe, anonymous, and confidential service for Native Americans experiencing domestic violence and dating violence.

Pathways to Safety International

  • Hotline: 1 (833) 723 – 3833
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week via phone, email, and online chat.
  • Pathways to Safety International assists Americans in experiencing interpersonal and gender-based violence abroad.

Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender National Hotline

  • Hotline: 1 (888) 843 – 4564
  • Youth Talkline: 1 (800) 246 – 7743
  • Senior Helpline: 1 (888) 234 – 7243
  • Email: [email protected]
  • Hours vary, available via phone and online chat.
  • The LGBT National Help Center serves gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and questioning people by providing free and confidential peer support and local resources.

Women's Law

  • Email hotline:
  • The WomensLaw online helpline provides basic legal information, referrals, and emotional support for victims of abuse.


Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.