Checking your text messages and personal e-mail accounts. Forbidding you to attend family gatherings and girlfriend getaways. Are these regular occurrences in your home? If so, you might be in an abusive relationship. Domestic violence knows no color, income level or religion. And ladies, don’t assume that all abuse is strictly physical. In fact, Dr. Oliver Williams, executive director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community, says, “Many women say that the physical scars usually heal but the emotional scars are often much harder to recover from.” Read on for more signs of domestic violence from Johnica Reed of My Sister’s Place, a shelter for battered women and their children in Washington, D.C., and useful suggestions for getting the help you need.

10 Warning Signs That You Might Be In An Abusive Relationship

• You are afraid of your boyfriend or husband’s temper.
• You are afraid to disagree with your partner.
• Your partner controls your finances.
• You are unable to go out, get a job, or go to school without his permission.
• You have to justify everything you do, every place you go, and every person you see to avoid his temper.
• You neglect friends or family because of your partner’s jealousy.
• You have been wrongly and repeatedly accused of flirting or having sex with others.
• You have been frightened by your partner’s violence towards others.
• You have been hit, kicked, shoved, or had things thrown at you.
• Your partner often criticizes your clothes, friends and other personal choices.

According to Reed, there are three common phases of abuse.

The length of each stage varies depending on relationship, with the total cycle taking from a few hours to a year or more to complete. Emotional abuse is typically present in all three stages and women often return to their partner during the honeymoon phase. The honeymoon phase becomes shorter as the cycle repeats itself and violent behavior increases.

“Many women think that if a partner shows attention, although it is negative attention, that an investment is being made in them,” warns Dr. Williams. Ladies, heed the warning signs early and seek help as soon as possible. For assistance with an abuser in your home or the home of a loved one, contact your local domestic violence shelter, advises Dr. Williams. Ask them to help you develop a safety plan. Visit the sites below for more information.

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African-American Community,

My Sister’s Place,

National Domestic Violence Hotline, or call (800)799-SAFE.

Have you overcome an abusive relationship with a partner? Share your story below.