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Identifying Various Types of Abuse

Unfortunately, abuse can take many forms. Below you will find different types of abuse and some specific examples which can assist in identifying and responding to these behaviors in your life or as an active bystander.


  • Types of Abuse:
    • Verbal – Put downs, name-calling, threats, spreading rumors, blaming, yelling
    • Emotional – Isolation from friends/family, Intimidation, humiliation, manipulation, suicide threats, jealousy, possessiveness, stalking
    • Physical – Hitting, slapping, shoving, choking, restraint, kidnapping, pinching, abuse of property, abuse of pets
    • Sexual – Forced sexual activity & rape, forced viewing of pornography, sabotage of birth control, non-consensual touching
    • Economic – Infringing on a job or activity that will lead to a job and independence (example: school/college)
    Examples of Verbal Abuse
    • Threats to kill
    • Threats to use violence
    • Threats to children
    • Accusations of “screwing around”
    • Calling names (i.e. whore, slut, bastard)
    • Leaving nasty voice messages or text messages
    • Making insinuations
    • Giving the “silent treatment”
    • Yelling
    • Insults
    • Making critical statements, “You are dumb”, You are stupid”, You can’t do anything right”
    Examples of Emotional Abuse
    • Being irresponsible with money
    • Controlling access to money
    • Intense jealousy
    • Withholding sex
    • Criticizing a partner’s looks
    • Unwanted sexual demands
    • Isolating another from family and friends
    • Making fun of partner
    • Keeping partner up all night
    • Manipulating with lies
    • Threatening to leave
    • Having affairs
    • Constant questioning about activities
    • Using alcohol and/or drugs
    • Accusations of affairs
    • Not working
    • Keeping partner from working
Power & Control Wheel

The Power & Control diagram is a tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship. (National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence)


Power and Control Wheel image