Subtle Signs of Domestic Abuse -
When Innuendo Is as Fierce as a Fist

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Oftentimes the signs of domestic abuse confuse us. We think of it as the obvious and fail to acknowledge the subtle, unless we are on the receiving end.

For example, I hear couples speak about the abuse in their relationships as though they are referring to two separate relationships. And the perception of each person often misses the experience of the other.

Abuser’s Perspective

He sees the “blowup” episodes, which he meekly refers to as the “incidents.” ...And he wonders why she can’t just forgive and forget.

From his perspective, months have passed and he can’t (so he says) understand why she’s still fearful of him. “For crying out loud,” he declares, “I haven’t laid my hands on her in over half a year and she still withholds intimacy.”

Domestic Abuse Survivor’s Perspective

She, on the other hand, is aware of her feelings of oppression and being trampled upon by his innuendo day-to-day. It can come in the form of a look, a gesture or some “innocent” words.

For example, he may say, “Dear, you are slow to heal and slow to forgive. If only you’d let go of your hurt, we could start fresh and create the relationship of our dreams.”

Wait a second now. Did you just hear and feel that? On the surface, one might say his words are those of someone trying to patch things up. However, when standing in her shoes, these are words of condescension. They say, let me help you see how deficient you are, my dear.

So when she takes in this subtle little message as her daily bread, she does not see the last “blowup” as having happened months ago. No, for her, it is an ongoing message that she is less than, lacking in, not enough of... Simply stated, she is not valued as is.

If you are a domestic abuse survivor and you find yourself locking horns with your partner over when and how you should have healed, stop and notice how you feel. You and your partner are masking in the makeup game, but continue to enact the dynamics of domestic abuse.

For information about the subtle signs of domestic abuse and healing from emotional abuse, browse our resources at, and get Free Instant Access to Survivor Success eInsights. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. Copyright 2010 Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention

This series of eInsights is presented to you by Partners in Prevention, a nonprofit organization. If you find this eInsight article useful, we invite you to contribute to the maintenance and growth of the Survivor Success Tips & eInsights. To make a tax-deductible donation, please visit

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.