Folks who abuse come from all walks of life. Abuse also takes on many different forms. A person might be in an abusive relationship and not even know it because they have accepted the behavior for so very long. Although experts say the numbers for abuse are tough to track for those over age 50, they see plenty of middle-aged, and even elderly women seeking help for what’s sometimes called “intimate partner violence.”

Abuse can worsen as couples age, and their children move out. Physical violence sometimes develops later in life and may result in withholding medical care, along with medications, for example. According to Brian Pinero, director for digital services at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “Some women in long-term relationships don’t always recognize the signs of abuse until they see a TV show like Dr. Phil.”

It is downright hard for women over age 50 who are in abusive situations to leave a relationship they’ve been in for 30, 40 years or longer.

Whether the abuse is physical or mental, it is never deserved! Surprisingly, many women don’t know there are different types of abuse and are not sure if it is happening in their very own relationship.

Below are questions and two checklists to help you decide if your relationship is abusive and toxic.  If you answer “yes” to any of the selections, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional Abuse

You are probably the victim of emotional abuse if your partner:

  • Repeatedly gives you destructive criticism, verbal threats and browbeating.
  • Always claims to be right.
  • Excludes you from making decisions and claims to be the head of the household.
  • Abuses your trust by lying, hiding important information and papers, cheating or being inappropriately jealous.
  • Minimizes or denies abusive behavior.
  • Constantly shows disrespect, puts you down, or embarrasses you in front of others.
  • Harasses you by following you or checking up on you.
  • Prevents you from seeing your relatives, friends, or insists on going everywhere with you.
  • Monitors your phone calls.

Physical Abuse

The next list includes signs of physical abuse. You are a victim of physical abuse if your partner:

  • Intimidates you through angry or threatening gestures.
  • Destroys your belongings or household items.
  • Coerces you to into having sex or performing sexual acts against your will.
  • Kicks, bites, stabs, pushes, burns, or chokes you.
  • Uses weapons to threaten or harm you or others you love.

It takes plenty of inner strength to leave a longtime relationship but abuse is not something you should tolerate just because you’ve been with someone for years. Get help from friends, family, law enforcement and there are community resources as well.

Here are a few organizations that can offer the guidance you need to remove yourself from an abusive situation:

Futures Without Violence; 415-678-5500

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; 202-745-1211

National Domestic Violence Hotline; 1-800-799-SAFE or 1-800-787-3224

Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian and Gay Survivors of Abuse; 206-568-7777

National Clearinghouse on Abuse Later in Life; 608-255-0539

The Stalking Resource Center (also the National Center for Victims of Crime); 203-467-8701