skip to main content

Many types of abuse

There are many different types of abuse. Here is a list of abuse women from our support groups have identified. If you think you are experiencing abuse from your partner, it may be helpful to read through the list and see what applies to you. If someone you know is experiencing abuse, this list might help you to understand some of the things your loved one has experienced.

Psychological/Mental Abuse

Any act intended to undermine your mental well-being and make you feel crazy.

  • telling me I’m crazy
  • giving me the silent treatment
  • manipulating me
  • playing mind games
  • wearing down my instincts
  • watching
  • stalking
  • distorting reality
  • bringing up the past to deflect the issue at hand
  • using information against me
  • rewriting history
  • intimidating or threatening me and claiming he’s “just joking”
  • putting on a good show to win others to his side
  • giving me glaring looks
  • making me prove things to him
  • demanding perfection
  • changing the rules

Physical/Threat of Physical Abuse

Any unwanted physical contact or threat of physical contact or harm.

  • making threatening gestures
  • driving recklessly
  • throwing things at me or near me
  • restraining me
  • blocking my exit from the room
  • pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, punching
  • using weapons to threaten me or the children
  • spitting
  • choking
  • pulling my hair
  • biting or pinching
  • kicking
  • grabbing or shaking
  • locking me out of the house
  • threatening to kill me

Verbal Abuse

Any use of words or volume of voice to threaten, belittle or injure you.

  • yelling or screaming
  • putting me down
  • swearing
  • using “sarcasm” & hurtful “jokes”
  • saying “you always . . .” or “you never . . .”
  • blaming me
  • being condescending

Sexual Abuse

Any unwanted sexual contact or use of sex against you.

  • ridiculing me for saying “no”
  • pushing sexual acts that I do not consent to
  • withholding sex because he says I’m undesirable
  • using my past sexual experience against me
  • insisting on using pornography
  • having or threatening to have an affair
  • coercing sex by guilt, harassment or threats
  • forcing sex (rape)
  • criticizing how I dress (too sexy or not sexy enough)
  • telling me I’m not “good enough”
  • telling me I’m fat and undesirable
  • putting me down sexually (e.g., calling me whore, slut, frigid, prude, etc.)
  • demanding sex as payment
  • talking to others about our sex life
  • Spiritual Abuse

Any word or action that isolates or damages your spiritual beliefs.

  • using religious authority against me
  • attacking my beliefs
  • using scripture against me
  • isolating me from my religious community
  • destroying my soul
  • Using Children

Any involvement, manipulation, threats or use of children in the abuse.

  • belittling me in front of children
  • using children to his advantage
  • threatening to take children from me
  • fighting me for custody of the children
  • not paying child support
  • telling me I’m a terrible mother
  • abusing the children
  • threatening to harm the children
  • using visitation to harass me

Social Abuse

Any attempt to cut you off from sources of support and care.

  • isolating me
  • cutting me off from friends
  • embarrassing me in front of others
  • controlling who I spend time with
  • refusing to spend time with the family
  • being jealous
  • criticizing family members and friends so I stop seeing them
  • monitoring phone calls
  • monitoring car mileage
  • preventing me from working

Cultural Abuse

Any use of cultural ideas as a way to dominate or belittle you.

  • using culture to legitimize abusive behavior
  • putting down my culture
  • forcing me to adopt his cultural practices
  • speaking his language to exclude me
  • using extended family to oppress me
  • refusing to allow me to learn mainstream culture

Emotional Abuse

Any act intended to undermine your emotional well-being and doubt your reality.

  • teasing
  • trying to tell me how to feel
  • putting me in a “no win” situation
  • using a threatening tone of voice
  • being jealous
  • intimidating me
  • changing mood quickly (e.g., from calm to anger)
  • giving mixed messages (e.g., love and hate)
  • behaving unpredictably
  • withdrawing emotionally
  • making me feel guilty
  • being competitive
  • invalidating my feelings
  • blaming me for everything
  • withholding affection
  • waking me up in the middle of the night
  • threatening suicide
  • making light of the abuse
  • withdrawing emotionally

Intellectual Abuse

Any act intended to make you doubt your intellectual ability and make you feel inferior.

  • making me look stupid
  • claiming superior intelligence
  • correcting my grammar
  • confusing me
  • belittling my intellectual ability
  • not letting me finish my sentences
  • showing off his higher education

Financial Abuse

Any intentional act that deprives you (or your children) of financial security or limits your access to financial decision making.

  • making me account for every cent
  • making me justify every purchase
  • withholding financial information
  • hiding money from me
  • limiting my access to money
  • closing out joint bank accounts without my consent
  • spending money needed for the household on himself (or gambling it away)
  • belittling my financial contributions to the household
  • threatening to take all the money if I should separate
  • spending money carelessly
  • making me beg for money
  • forcing me to commit welfare fraud
  • running up bills
  • leaving me with the burden of paying bills when there’s not enough money
  • making financial decisions without me
  • not paying child support

Abuse of Pets and Property

Hurting pets or damaging property in order to intimidate, control and hurt you.

  • threatening to hurt pets
  • punching walls and doors
  • killing pets
  • throwing things
  • damaging the vehicle
  • smashing things
  • breaking treasured items
When Love Hurts