Characteristics of the Abused

A potential caregiver or minister to abused women needs to understand that many of the women who are abused do not recognize it as such, or because of their backgrounds, assume that this behavior is “normal,” and that the abuse is their fault. Helping women understand what abuse is will go far in helping them back to a healthy relationship.

Here are some symptoms an abused woman may exhibit that may be a clue the abuse is happening to her:

  • She carries fear with her into many situations in her life.
  • She may have very low self-esteem.
  • She may have lost all self-confidence.
  • She may not be able to make good decisions or wants others to tell her what to do.
  • She may express hopelessness or deal with depression, even to the point of attempting suicide.
  • She may exhibit physical problems and health issues, as a result of the stress of fearing abuse, and the actual damage the physical abuse creates.
  • She continually tries to read her spouse’s mind, and predict his reactions, or guess what he is feeling.
  • She may use drugs or alcohol more when she’s around her partner.
  • She evaluates activities and/or friends according to her partner’s response to them. She may give up friendships outside of her marriage. She may also not want friends to come see her at home.
  • She gives up activities she would enjoy in order to please her partner.
  • She begins to adopt her partner’s personal values, giving up her own values.
  • She speaks and acts cautiously to avoid disapproval.
  • She may try to take responsibility for her partner’s behavior.
  • She believes if she just prays enough, submits enough, or fasts enough, the abuse will end.
  • She may feel that she has failed to please God because she is abused.


Reflection Questions

Why would a woman possibly deny that she has any of these symptoms of being abused?

How could you help a woman see her situation more clearly?


Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

“Fragile Soul: Ministering to Victims of Domestic Violence” is published by the National Women’s Department at women.ag.org, 2020. Permission granted to reprint  for personal use or within a teaching setting. Do not reproduce.