Types of abuse

Abuse broken down

Domestic violence can occur in several different forms regardless of race, social class, ethnic background or sexual orientation. It can be psychological, physical, emotional, financial or sexual but no matter which is experienced, it can leave a victim and their family as well as  friends completely broken. The categories are not exclusive. Some abusive tactics may fit into more than one category. A threat of physical harm, for example, could be seen as emotional abuse and as physical abuse.

Physical Abuse

Physical violence is abuse which is the use of force to enhance power and control a partner. It can be defined as the threat of harm or any forceful physical behavior that intentionally causes bodily harm or property destruction including the following:
  • Hitting, beating,choking, pushing, slapping, kicking, pulling hair, biting, punching, backhanding, arm twisting, shoving or burning.
  • Holding the partner down or preventing partner from leaving.
  • Throwing and/or threatening with objects.
  • Locking the partner out of the home.
  • Refusal to get the partner help or medical attention.
  • Forced use of substances. (alcohol and drugs)
  • Abandoning you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
  • Preventing medical attention.
  • Depriving the partner of medication.
  • Denying or interfering with the partner meeting his/her basic physical needs like eating and sleeping.
  • Smashing, damaging, stealing, or selling the partner’s possessions.
  • Threatening to use or USING a weapon against the partner such as a knife, hammer, gun, etc.
  • Driving recklessly.
  • Punching walls or doors.
  • Stalking.

    Emotional Abuse

    Emotional abuse typically includes ridicule, intimidation or coercion. Verbal abuse usually is included in this category. This type of abuse is more difficult to define and to identify than physical abuse. At some time in their relationship almost all couples say or even shout things they later regret. Emotional abuse, however, is repeated hurtful exchanges with disregard for the partner’s feelings aimed at gaining power and/or exerting control over the partner.

    Emotional abuse is present in almost all relationships where physical abuse occurs, and it can have serious and long-term consequences for the partner – eroding self-esteem and confidence, as well as instilling feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. Types of emotional abuse include:

  • Verbal threats.
  • Demeaning the partner in front of friends, family or strangers.
  • Name-calling and use of abusive language.
  • Constant criticism or humiliation.
  • Disproportionate anger or yelling to intimidate.
  • Irrational blaming of the partner.
  • Withholding affection, approval or appreciation as a punishment.
  • Obsessive jealousy and accusations of unfaithfulness.
  • Instilling in the partner the belief that “nothing he does will ever be good enough.”
  • Use of intimate knowledge (example: the partner has herpes) to generate vulnerability.
  • Abusing or threatening to abuse the partner’s children is included here when the intent is to emotionally harm the partner through the children.
  • Blaming the partner’s friends or family for the couple’s “relationship” problems.
  • Monitoring phone calls, mail or visits.
  • Demanding an account of the partner’s daily activities.
  • Insulting, threatening or assaulting the partner’s friends or family; driving them away.
  • Abusing or threatening to abuse pets is included here, again when the intent is to emotionally harm the partner through the pets.
  • Being irresponsible with money.
  • Using insults, sarcasm or sneering.
  • Laughing at the partner.
  • The abuser harming or threatening to harm himself/herself.
  • Lying in order to confuse.
  • Blaming the partner for the abuse.
  • Telling tales and false stories or playing mind games.
  • Telling the partner he/she doesn’t know what he/she is talking about.
  • Manipulating the partner with words, ideas or lies.
  • Denying that statements or promises were made or that behaviors occurred, and telling the partner it’s all in his mind.
  • Forcing the partner to choose between the relationship and loved ones.
  • Creating public scenes or disturbances when the partner is out with others.
  • Stalking the partner and other forms of surveillance.

    Financial Abuse

    Financial abuse is the use or misuse, without the partner’s freely given consent, of the financial or other monetary resources of the partner or of the partnership.

    Common examples of financial abuse include:

  • Forbidding the partner to work
  • Jeopardizing the partner’s employment by such tactics as excessive calls to work; creating conflict with co-workers, supervisor or clients; creating scenes with co-workers; forcing the partner to miss work through threats, injuries or coerced substance use
  • Refusing to work, yet contributing to expenses
  • Controlling shared resources, including bank accounts and common property
  • Demanding the partner sign over paychecks or denying access to liquid assets, like mutual funds
  • Demanding the partner account for all the money he spends
  • Coercing the partner to pay for all expenses, including rent, food and utilities
  • Stealing the partner’s property, such as valuables or assets
  • Destroying or threatening to destroy the partner’s property as a means of affecting his financial situation
  • Using the partner’s identity to charge expenditures to partner
  • Taking credit cards, money or checkbook
  • Forging the partner’s signature on financial documents

    Sexual Abuse

    Sexual abuse is any forced or coerced sexual act or behavior motivated to acquire power and control over the partner. It is not only forced sexual contact but also contact that demeans or humiliates the partner and instigates feelings of shame or vulnerability – particularly in regards to the body, sexual performance or sexuality. Sexual abuse includes:
  • Unwanted touching.
  • Demeaning remarks about the partner’s body or appearance.
  • Minimization of the partner’s sexual needs.
  • Berating the partner about his sexual history.
  • Demeaning remarks about the partner being too feminine or butch.
  • Forcing sex or sexual actions on the partner without consent.
  • Using force or roughness that is not consensual, including forced sex. (rape)
  • Rape with an object.
  • Refusing to comply with the partner’s request for safe sex.
  • Coercing the partner into sex with others.
  • Purposefully and repeatedly crossing the partner’s sexual boundaries.
  • Violating an agreement for monogamy by having sex with others.
  • Exposing the partner to sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Treating the partner as a sex object.
  • Criticizing sexual performance or desirability.
  • Withholding sex as a punishment.
  • Unwanted sadistic sexual acts.