BELOIT, Wis. (WTVO) — There are multiple ways that victims of domestic abuse can experience trauma.

Unlike physical abuse, emotional abuse does not leave behind marks that can be seen. A stateline mental health counselor spoke about the signs of emotional abuse and the best ways to approach someone who might be falling victim.

Stephanie Hormig, an LGBTQ+ survivor advocate at DEFY Beloit, described some of the signs that someone may be going through a situation like that.

“It may start off as, ‘Oh, I don’t like that shirt on you.’ But then two or three months down the road, it’s throwing your shirts out, only picking what you can wear. Taking you shopping. You can’t do this, you can’t do that. It becomes a control factor,” Hormig said. “We have something that we talk about all the time, it’s the Power and Control wheel. That ability to manipulate situations to gain power and control over somebody, that’s one of the red flags that we talk about.”

Hormig said what people can best do as a friend, coworker or bystander to approach somebody if they are seeing those signs.

“The thing that we always tell people is, be a person that is there that is non-judgmental. If you address somebody about it, and you address it in a judgmental way, you’re going to have walls built. You’re going to have walls built,” Hormig said. “You’ll have, ‘I can’t trust them. They’re just going to judge me.’ So if someone in your life is going through that, allow them to have you as a sounding board. Know the resources. Maybe once you start noticing that, do a little research on your own. Figure out where is the best place for them to go?”

It is important to come up with solutions, not just telling the person that there is a problem.

“Absolutely. Solutions are better,” Hormig said. “You’re going to get those walls built. That, ‘I don’t trust you.’ You’re going to call the police, you’re going to do something that maybe that survivor is not ready for.”

If you are a witness or a survivor of domestic or sexual violence, visit our Stateline Strong page for available resources.