Diana Sousa and Kyrie McCauley have created a series of infographics to help identify abuse and break the cycle of harm. Art by Sarah Epperson.

Infographics by Diana Sousa and Kyrie McCauley





Warning Signs

Sometimes it is hard to identify unhealthy patterns, especially early on. Abusive behaviors can start small and build. Below are some early warning signs of an unsafe relationship.

Withholds affection or closes off communication with the aim of punishing you;

Humiliates you or demeans you;

Monitors your friendships/relationships;

Acts possessive;

Uses your words against you;

Prevents you from making your own decisions, or influences you to get the result they want;



What is Gaslighting?

Gaslighting is a form of mental/emotional manipulation. It can be hard to define because it takes many forms, but if someone is consistently belittling your feelings, downplaying instances in which they’ve hurt you, reframing situations for their gain, and/or dismissing any conversation in which you try to address those occurrences, it might be gaslighting. Gaslighting includes phrases such as:

“You’re too sensitive.”

“You never remember things correctly.”

“You’re making things up.”

The goal is to make you doubt your own memories or perception, leaving you confused and powerless. They discredit your feelings to make you dependent and insecure. You feel guilty and “not good enough”, as if you can’t live up to their expectations.


Cycle of Abuse

Unhealthy relationships might not feel bad all the time. Understanding the cycle of abuse can help you identify warning signs and patterns.

Calm: Also known was “honeymoon period”. No abuse is actively occurring.

Tensions build: “Walking on eggshells”; someone is making you feel like you could anger them by saying or doing the wrong thing.

Incident: The abuse is acute; can be physical, emotional, or sexual; might be controlling or manipulative in nature.

Reconciliation: Might include apologies or self-deprecation; Gaslighting might occur here as well if an abuser tries to downplay or excuse their behavior.


Meet the Contributors

Diana Sousa Portrait (1)Diana Sousa lives in Portugal and works as a freelance graphic designer, as well as the graphic designer for Glasstown Entertainment, a company focused on storytelling across multiple platforms including book, film, and television. She’s also a writer, an avid gamer, and all-around nerd. You can see more of her work at: http://www.portfolio.dianasousa.com/


KyrieMcCauleyKyrie McCauley holds a Master of Science in Social Policy from the University of Pennsylvania and has a background in advocacy, grant writing, and crisis intervention services. She is a young adult author, and can be found on Twitter or Instagram @kyriemccauley.