Early detection of physical abuse ensures personal safety in relationships – marriage, family therapist urges


Reverend Emmanuel Owusu-Kumi, a marriage and family therapist, has emphasised the importance of recognising early signs of physical abuse to safeguard personal safety and make informed decisions within relationships.

Spousal abuse, falling within the realm of intimate partner violence (IPV), is a deeply concerning issue that transcends gender boundaries. Reverend Owusu-Kumi, who practices at Newhope Counselling Services, explained that physical abuse is one of the most visible and alarming forms of abuse, characterised by harmful behaviours aimed at exerting control and power over an intimate partner.

He outlined several red flags indicating potential physical abuse. A primary indicator is the frequent display of aggressive behaviour, such as punching walls, throwing objects, or engaging in physical fights with others. Over time, this aggression may escalate and eventually be directed toward a partner.

Another warning sign involves a partner repeatedly invading personal space, engaging in unwelcome touching, or using force during arguments, even if seemingly minor initially. Recognising discomfort and boundary violations is essential, as these actions can escalate to more harmful physical behaviours.

Threats, violence or intimidation used to manipulate or control a partner are significant red flags. Reverend Emmanuel stressed the need to take these warnings seriously, as statements like “If you mess with me, I will kill you” or “I will beat you” should not be ignored.

Furthermore, a history of violent behaviour, aggression, or a pattern of abusive conduct in previous relationships should raise concerns, indicating a higher risk of physical abuse in the current relationship. The final physical red flags involve extreme possessiveness and obsession. Partners displaying these behaviours may resort to violence to exert control and dominance.

Reverend Owusu-Kumi advised individuals to trust their instincts and prioritise personal safety. When confronted with any of these warning signs, seeking support from friends, family or helplines is crucial. Having a safety plan in place and seeking professional help is vital if one finds themselves in a potentially physically abusive situation.

It’s essential to understand that physical abuse knows no gender boundaries, as both men and women can be victims or perpetrators. Breaking the cycle of abuse requires intervention, support systems, education and advocacy to create a safer and more respectful environment for everyone in relationships.

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