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Recognizing and Responding To The Types of Abuse with Examples

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

So, what exactly constitutes intimate partner violence or spousal abuse? What are the different types of abuse?

Spousal abuse does not necessarily involve physical violence. Women who are mistreated in less obvious ways may need support in recognizing that their partners’ behavior is unacceptably controlling and constitutes abuse.

The list categorizes types of abusive behaviors under main headings. Each type of abuse involves an imbalance of power in the relationship, whereby the abuser attempts to degrade, intimidate, and thereby exert control over his partner.

types of abuse

Emotional Abuse

Many women say that they would rather be hit than endure emotional abuse: when they are assaulted physically, they know they are being abused.

Emotional abuse is more subtle.

It often begins or accelerates during pregnancy when the man sees the fetus as a threat to what he perceives as his central position in the home.

Learn more about Emotional Abuse.

Environmental Abuse

In this type of abuse, the woman is made to feel afraid in her home or environment.

The abuser may attempt to intimidate her by punching walls, throwing objects, or damaging items that are important to her; it is usually only the woman’s possessions that are broken.

Social Abuse

A key component of social abuse is the isolation of the woman from family and friends; the abuser’s goal is to prevent her from having a social life that is not centered on him.

The abuser may repeatedly cause scenes in public, such that the woman is too embarrassed to be seen with him outside the home and isolates herself.

Learn more about Social Abuse.

Financial Abuse

Money can be used to exert power.

The abuser may attempt to control his partner by ensuring that she has no financial independence or by exploiting her earning ability.

He may spend money without her agreement or refuse to spend money on special occasions or things necessary for the family.

Learn more about Financial Abuse.

Religious Abuse

This form of abuse can be particularly effective if the woman’s religion or spirituality is important to her.

The abuser may ridicule his partner’s beliefs or use religious precepts to justify abusive actions.

Learn more about Religious Abuse.

Physical Abuse

Many women think they have to be hit with a closed fist to experience physical abuse.

Any unwanted physical contact may constitute abuse; the contact is often repeated and follows a particular pattern.

Physical neglect, such as responding inappropriately to illness or injury, is also abusive.

Learn more about Physical Abuse.

Sexual Abuse

Women in abusive relationships sometimes find themselves participating in sexual activities that they find abhorrent in order to pacify their partners.

Abusive men may force their partners to have intercourse when they are ill or recovering from childbirth.

Talking about sexual abuse is difficult for most women; many choose to call a crisis line anonymously to seek advice.

Learn more about Sexual Abuse.

What Are The Main Types Of Abuse?

Ritual abuse

This type of abuse needs careful exploration. Physicians should be aware that it occurs and that children and women are the usual targets.

Examples of the Eight Types of Abuse

This list is based on one made by men who were describing how they controlled or harmed their wives or girlfriends. A single act may not constitute abuse, but if someone is doing something to harm or control you, then you are being abused. You have the right to be treated respectfully and feel safe in your home.

Emotional/psychological/verbal abuse

  • making her do illegal things
  • false accusations
  • name calling, finding fault
  • verbal threats
  • yelling
  • intimidation
  • making her think she’s crazy or stupid
  • overpowering her emotions
  • disbelieving her
  • bringing up old issues
  • inappropriate expression of jealousy
  • degrading her
  • turning a situation against her
  • brainwashing her
  • laughing in her face
  • silence
  • refusing to do things with or for her
  • insisting on always getting his own way
  • pressuring her
  • neglecting her
  • expecting her to conform to a role
  • real or suggested involvement with other women
  • making her feel guilty
  • certain mannerisms, such as snapping fingers at her
  • threatening to get drunk or stoned unless. . . .
  • manipulating her
  • starting arguments
  • withholding affection
  • punishing her by not sharing in household chores
  • never really forgiving, holding grudges
  • lying
  • treating her as a child
  • having a double standard for her
  • saying one thing, meaning another
  • denying or taking away her responsibilities
  • failing to keep commitments
  • threatening her with the loss of immigration status
  • deliberately creating a mess for her to clean up
  • threatening to report her to the authorities
  • making her drop charges
  • telling jokes that belittle or indicate hatred toward women
  • refusing to deal with issues
  • minimizing her work or contribution
  • pressuring her to stay while drugs or alcohol are being abused
  • not coming home
  • coming home drunk or stoned
  • having pictures that indicate hate or violence against women
  • egging her on, challenging her to engage in physical violence
  • friendship or support of men who are abusive
  • demanding an accounting of her time and routine
  • taking advantage of her fear of something
  • putting her on a pedestal
  • ridiculing her food preferences
  • threatening suicide unless .
types of abuse

Emotional abuse surrounding reproduction, pregnancy and childbirth

  • refusing to allow or forcing her to use contraception
  • forcing her to have an abortion
  • refusing sex on the grounds that her pregnant body is ugly
  • denial that the child is his
  • refusing to support her during the pregnancy
  • refusing to support her during the birth
  • denying her access to her newborn child
  • not supporting her or helping out after she comes home with the baby
  • demanding sex soon after childbirth
  • blaming her because the infant is the “wrong” sex
  • refusing to allow her to breast-feed
  • sulking or making her feel bad for time spent with the baby

Social abuse involving children

  • assaulting her in front of the children
  • initiating false child abuse charges against her
  • making her stay at home with the children
  • teaching children to abuse their mothers through name-calling, hitting, etc.
  • embarrassing her in front of the children
  • not sharing responsibility for the children
  • threatening to abduct the children or telling her she’ll never get custody
  • putting down her parenting ability

Social abuse during separation or divorce

  • buying the children’s affection with expensive gifts
  • not showing up on time to pick up children or not having them back on time
  • pumping children for information about their mother’s boyfriends, etc.
  • telling children their mother is responsible for breaking up the family
  • using children to transport messages
  • denying her access to the children
  • failing to supply a valid phone number

Financial abuse

  • taking her money
  • forging her name
  • giving her false receipts
  • canceling her insurance
  • sabotaging her efforts to attain economic freedom
  • withholding money
  • spending money foolishly or beyond means
  • pressuring her to take full responsibility for finances
  • not paying a fair share of bills
  • not spending money on special occasions
  • spending on addictions, gambling, sexual services
  • pressuring or controlling her working conditions
  • keeping family finances a secret
  • preventing her from taking a job
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Abuse in the home

  • harming pets
  • ripping clothing
  • locking her in or out
  • throwing or destroying her possessions
  • slamming doors
  • throwing objects or food
  • denying her use of the phone
  • punching walls
  • mowing over her garden

Abuse in the vehicle

  • driving too fast
  • driving recklessly, pounding the steering wheel
  • driving while intoxicated
  • forcing her into a vehicle
  • pushing her out of a vehicle when it’s in motion
  • threatening to kill her by driving into an oncoming car, etc.
  • chasing or hitting her with a vehicle
  • killing or injuring her in a deliberate accident
  • hitting her while she’s driving
  • prohibiting her from using a vehicle by tampering with the engine, taking the keys, etc.
  • putting his foot over hers on the gas pedal
  • grabbing the steering wheel while she’s driving

Social abuse

  • controlling what she does, whom she sees and talks to, what she reads, and where she goes
  • failing to pass on messages
  • putting down or ignoring her in public
  • not allowing her access to family or friends
  • interfering with her family or friends
  • change of personality with others
  • being rude to her friends or relatives
  • dictating her mode of dress
  • dictating her behavior
  • habitually choosing friends, activities or work rather than being with her
  • making a “scene” in public
  • making her account for herself
  • censoring her mail
  • treating her like a servant
  • not giving her space or privacy
  • insisting on accompanying her into the doctor’s office
types of abuse

Ritual abuse

  • mutilation
  • animal mutilation
  • forced cannibalism
  • human sacrifices
  • suggesting or promoting suicide
  • forcing her to participate in rituals
  • forcing her to witness rituals

Physical abuse

  • any unwanted physical contact
  • kicking, punching, or pinching her
  • pulling or pushing her
  • slapping, hitting, or shaking her
  • cutting or burning her
  • pulling her hair
  • head butting
  • squeezing her hand or twisting her arm
  • choking or smothering her
  • force-feeding her
  • spitting on her
  • throwing her or throwing things at her
  • hitting her with objects or whipping her
  • restraining her in any way
  • urinating on her
  • breaking her bones
  • knifing or shooting her
  • threatening to kill or injure her
  • ignoring her illness or injury
  • denying or restricting her food or drink
  • pressuring or tricking her into alcohol or drug use
  • standing too close/intimidating her
  • hiding or withholding necessary medication
types of abuse

Sexual abuse

  • any unwanted sexual contact
  • forcing her to have sex, hounding her to have sex
  • forcing her to have sex with others
  • forcing her to have sex with animals
  • uttering threats to obtain sex
  • pinching, slapping, grabbing or poking her breasts or genitals
  • forcing sex when she’s sick or after childbirth or surgery
  • sleeping around
  • knowingly transmitting sexual diseases
  • treating her as a sex object
  • being rough
  • pressuring her to pose for pornographic photos
  • displaying pornography that makes her feel uncomfortable
  • using sex as the basis or solution for an argument
  • criticizing her sexual ability
  • unwanted fondling in public
  • purposely not washing and expecting sex
  • name calling (whore, slut, frigid, bitch)
  • accusations of affairs
  • degrading her body parts
  • telling sexual jokes or making sexual comments in public
  • demanding sex for drugs or alcohol
  • demanding sex as payment or trade
  • administering drugs or alcohol for sexual advantage
  • insisting on checking her body for sexual contact

Religious abuse

  • using religion to justify abuse or dominance
  • using church position to pressure for sex or favors
  • using her, then demanding forgiveness
  • excessive spending for religion
  • interpreting religion your way
  • preventing her from attending church
  • requiring sex acts or drug use as religious acts
  • mocking her beliefs

Read More about Narcissist Abuse and Domestic Violence

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

3 thoughts on “Recognizing and Responding To The Types of Abuse with Examples”

  1. Sad this well written article makes the guy the narcissist. Women can be narcissistic too. I just lost my marriage because of my narcissist WIFE. This article implies that only men are narcissists. Too bad this wasn’t written he/she…

    1. Thank you for bring up this point, You are absolutly correct. I have now started inserting this disclamer into each post I write becuase it is just natural for me to write using him/he since I am a woman. But you are so right women are Narcs just as much as men are!

      * I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don’t think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not a woman in that same role.

  2. The VAST majority of abusers are MEN, especially given the toxic soup of patriarchy most of us must operate within. This is supported by numerous well-researched studies, and by the work of experts such as Lundy Bancroft. Some of your articles are seriously problematic. Especially those around “parental alienation,” a concept used to further abuse victims and victimized children in the court system. It’s touted by “men’s rights” groups. Check out One Mom’s Battle.

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