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Domestic Abuse: Do you really know what is referred to as abuse?

Updated: May 5, 2021

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse also falls under the spectrum of Domestic Abuse and Domestic Violence (DV).

Domestic violence does not always have to be visible to be categorized. There may be no outward signs of abuse, no scars, or a trip to the doctor but still, abuse can be continuing. It is important for victims to understand that just because someone does not leave a bruise, it does not mean abuse did not occur.

People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim or abuser. Any behaviors that harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a person and make them behave in ways they, themselves would have not behaved is abuse.

Types of Domestic Abuse

Physical abuse This is the use of physical force against another person to inflict injury or to put the person at risk of becoming injured. This may include your partner pushing, hitting, choking you, or threatening you with a weapon.

Sexual abuse This abuse often occurs in tandem with physical abuse. It involves forcing or coercing a victim to do something sexually, which can range from unwanted kissing or touching to rape. This can also involve threatening someone to perform a sexual act, including oral sex; restricting a victim’s access to birth control and condoms, or repeatedly using sexual insults to demean a victim.

Emotional abuse This is almost like brainwashing in that it is done to wear away at a victim’s self-confidence. It can be verbal abuse; such as your partner repeatedly criticizing, intimidating, or belittling you. It can also be nonverbal abuse or coercive control; when your partner asserts control and tries to demean you by making decisions on your behalf. This can include anything from what you should wear to who your friends should be.

Financial abuse This type of abuse involves stealing or withholding money from the victim, or using the victim’s name and personal information to accrue debt. The victim may feel financially dependent on their partner, or as though they are being forced to support their partner financially.

Spiritual abuse Also referred to as religious abuse, this involves a partner not allowing you to practice your moral or religious beliefs. It can include humiliation or harassment as a means of control, forcing a victim to give up their culture or values that are important to them. Spiritual abuse can be used by religious leaders to instill fear or guilt into a victim, coercing them to behave a certain way.


National Domestic Violence Hotline


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