Types of Domestic Violence

January 11, 2009

When most people think of domestic violence, they imagine a cowering woman being beaten by her partner. This is physical abuse, but the types of domestic violence are varied and occur in many other forms, including emotional abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse.

Emotional Abuse

If your partner berates you by calling you names and putting you down, blackmails you with your children, money, safety, him leaving you for someone else, etc. unless you comply with his wishes, lies to your family and friends about you, says things to frighten you, or manipulates and coerces you into doing things you don’t want to, you are being emotionally abused. Often, they will attempt to isolate you from friends, family, and social interaction so you have no support group and no sense of normalcy with which to compare your situation. This type of psychological abuse usually goes hand-in-hand with one or more of the other forms of abuse. Intimate relationships with emotional abusers are very destructive and can quickly erode your sense of self-worth. Your partner may convince you that you deserve the abuse. It can be very difficult to leave an emotionally abusive relationship.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse includes hitting, punching, hair pulling, shoving, or any form of physical contact with the intention of hurting or intimidating you. Many people don’t realise this, but physical violence also includes them standing over you, damaging property, and actions such as kicking doors to physically intimidate you. People in healthy relationships do not tolerate physical abuse. How many men do you think walk up to women, punch them in the face, and say“G’day! I’m a complete prick! Do you want to be my girlfriend?” It doesn’t happen. It takes a severely battered self-esteem to be hit and not high-tail it out of the relationship at warp speed. Emotional abuse is frequently present in conjunction with physical.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, groping, leering, sexual remarks, rape, and being forced to perform other sexual acts. People don’t tend to acknowledge that an intimate partner can sexually assault you. If you don’t want to have sex and your partner forces you, that is RAPE. If you tell your partner to stop touching you and he doesn’t, that’s sexual assault. Sexual abuse from a partner can leave you feeling used and hurt. Remember, just because they are your partner doesn’t mean that they own your body. You do.

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse includes controlling all of the money, using you as a buffer to pay for everything, and not giving you enough to meet basic needs such as food, feminine hygiene, medical, paying bills, or expenses for the children. Financial abuse is demoralising and can leave a victim feeling helpless.

For more information on the types of domestic abuse, visit Women’s Safety After Separation, Relationships Australia, and the Australian Government Office for Women.

Do you think you might be in an abusive relationship? Use When Love Hurts’ checklist to help define your experience.

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