Types of abuse

Domestic violence can take many forms. Many of these don’t include physical violence.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse is any type of behaviour by one partner (or ex-partner) to make the other feel afraid or worthless. It can also include one partner making the other feel responsible for their safety:

Common forms of emotional and psychological abuse include: 

  • Putting the partner down eg, telling them that they are ugly, stupid or incompetent.
  • Humiliating them in front of friends, family or in public.
  • Threatening their children.
  • ‘Outing’ or threatening to out them to friends, family, at work or to their cultural community.
  • Telling, or threatening to tell, others about their HIV status without permission.
  • Hurting their pets.
  • Threatening to harm their children
  • Treating children in a disrespectful manner.
  • underminning the relationship between the children and their partner 
  • Threatening to self harm or commit suicide

“One letter to my mother falsely claimed that I had AIDS.” (Adam,35).

Social abuse is any behaviour by one partner to control the other’s social life. It can include:

  • Stopping them from visiting their friends or family.
  • Abusing or fighting with their friends or family so they stop visiting or calling.
  • Cutting off the phone or monitoring calls or bills.
  • Preventing them from attending gay and lesbian or other events and venues.
  • Locking them in the house.
  • Isolating them from their cultural background or preventing them practicing their religious beliefs.

“She told me that my mother would never accept us, and that she would try to break us up so I saw less of my family.” (Lisa, 38).

Physical abuse is any type of physical violence that an abusive partner inflicts on the other. It can include:

  • Hitting, kicking, pushing, slapping, strangling or burning.
  • Breaking possessions or punching/kicking walls.
  • Withholding or stopping their partner from getting medication or treatments.

“He was smashing my head repeatedly into the gravel only stopping to punch me in the chest. He then started strangling me. [When I came to he said] ‘Now look what
you’ve made me do, you piece of shit’.” (Kent, 35).

Sexual abuse is any behaviour where one partner forces the other to perform sexual acts they don’t want to. It can include:

  • Pressuring them to have sex when they don’t want to.
  • Pressuring, forcing or tricking them into having unsafe sex.
  • Involving them in BDSM without consent.
  • Making them have sex with other people.
  • Sexually assaulting (raping) them.

Financial abuse is any behaviour by one partner to control the other’s money against their will. It can include:

  • Taking their money or controlling their income.
  • Refusing to give them money or making them account for everything they spend.
  • Threatening to withdraw financial support as a means of control.
  • Preventing the partner from working so they become financially vulnerable or reliant on their partner

Stalking is any behaviour by which one partner (or ex-partner) tries to intimidate or harass the other. It can include:

  • Following them when they go to work, home or out.
  • Constantly watching them, their house or workplace.
  • Calling, texting or e-mailing them or their family, friends or work colleagues more often than is appropriate or when asked not to.

“A new phase of harassment and stalking followed that included a wide range of threats ranging from ‘Come back, I’ve changed’ to ‘If you have sex with another man I’ll kill you and him’. (David, 27)

Cyberstalking is any type of online behaviour that is designed to damage the victim’s reputation, intimidate, monitor their movements or to deceive. Cyberstalking can also be used as a way to continue to maintain control and instill fear into a partner or ex partner, even after a relationship has ended. Types of abusive online behaviour include:

  • Joining the same chat, social networking or online social groups to contact, harass or intimidate.
  • Posting pictures online without permission.
  • Developing fake profiles – tricking someone into having contact, stealing someone’s identity or misleading them.
  • Making false accusations or threats on public online spaces such as a Facebook wall.
  • Monitoring someone’s movements or behaviour online.
  • Damaging data or equipment.
  • Gathering information about someone through their family, friends, workplace or other online sources.
  • Ordering goods or services in someone else’s name.