Yes, but not the question that spawned this meta
Why is this type of question on topic?
We are working with questions of the form how can I recognize the signs of X? This type of question would be on topic, If asking about X itself is on topic. The help center lists topics that can be asked about here.
Questions about the following subjects are on topic for this site:
- using or understanding interpersonal interactions to resolve specific problems or prevent problems from occurring with a specific goal in mind. This includes interactions with family, friends, work/school associates, acquaintances or strangers (or anyone else).
- the written and unwritten - but well-established and expected - rules or conventions of behavior in a specific setting (also called etiquette).
- understanding social norms as they relate to interpersonal interactions - why do we interact the way we do?
- understanding theories and concepts commonly associated with interpersonal skills. - What is [theory/concept] or How do I use [theory/concept] to achieve [goal]?
Let's try applying the first bullet point to our topic X. Then we get a question of the form how can I use X to solve this problem that I have? or how can I use X to prevent this problem that I have?
I'll use this question as an example. The question asks How can I recognize non-verbal communication that someone needs a seat on public transportation? So, in this example X is "non-verbal communication". Let's flip that into the "how can I use" format. It then becomes How can I use non-verbal communication to indicate that I need a seat on public transportation? That would be a good, on-topic question, and in fact this question is similar (and a non-verbal solution could be an acceptable answer to it).
So, if you can extract an interpersonal skill from the question and it would be on topic to ask how to use that interpersonal skill, I think it would be a good fit for the site.
Why is the particular question being discussed not on topic?
There are a few reasons that I think this particular question is not on topic.
The first reason is that it doesn't fit the pattern discussed above. How can I recognize abuse? In this question X is "abuse". Flipping it would yield How can I use abuse to solve this problem? which would certainly be a bad question for the site, or How can I prevent abuse to solve this problem (thanks @dhein for pointing out that possible case). The second question is a bit trickier, because it feels a lot more like an on-topic question. In fact, if the subject was wasn't abuse, I would say that it would be a good question for the site. However, the subject is abuse, which leads right into my second reason.
The second reason is that the subject of abuse is a bad fit for SE in general. I say this because abuse falls under the need for professional help, which we have determined to be off topic. The question I linked is concerned more with questions that deal with depression/self-harm/suicidal thoughts, but I don't think that the general flow for questions where the OP needs professional help is limited to these scenarios.
Why does abuse fall in this category?
Let's take a look at the flipped version of the question again.
How can I prevent abuse to solve this problem
This question would be off-topic here, because we are not qualified to help people cope with abusive or potentially abusive situations. Much like depression/self-harm/suicide the best thing we can do to help someone in this situation would be to provide them links to better resources (such as a shelter for abuse victims in their area).
Much like we aren't trained to assist people actively in abusive situations, we are also not trained to recognize abuse. Without proper training, we shouldn't be answering questions about topics as sensitive as abuse, because any mistakes we make could have serious consequences for the OP. From the conversation that @noon and I had in chat
Rainbacon: How would we know? We are not trained to spot abusive behavior.
Noon: We wouldn't, but we could tell them: "from this article, here are the sign of an abusing relationship, you have to make your own conclusion based on that"
What I gathered from this conversation is that the best we can hope for to answer a question like this is to link another resource and leave the OP to decide things for themselves. I think that a better course of action would be to close the question so that the OP doesn't get any potentially harmful answers, and to also provide information to help the OP seek help in the right place.
A canonical question
While I don't think that this question is a good fit for IPS, I do see value in having a canonical question that we can use to close it. I mentioned that when we close a question like this, we should provide the OP with any resources that we can to seek help. The canonical question would be a good way to do that. As an example, this meta post deals with handling posts where the OP mentions self-harm or suicide. One of the things in the post is a ready-made comment that includes information about a suicide hotline that the OP could call. If we have a canonical question about signs of abuse, we could list similar types of resources on it and then link to the question when we close posts.
Using a canonical question in this way would help us protect the OP from further damage done by bad answers to their question while also protecting IPS from any fallout that might come from giving a bad answer.