October 17, 2017

Types Of Domestic Violence Abuse

What are some types of abuse that can happen in domestic violence relationships?

While each case is unique, abusers use a range of abusive behavior to control their patterns including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, and spiritual abuse.

Often, it is difficult to identify various forms of abuse, particularly when they are indirect or not as obvious as physical and/or sexual violence.

Isolation from friends and family, using children as bargaining tools, and threatening deportation and/or using a victim’s legal status as a means to keep their partner in an abusive relationship are common patterns of domestic violence abuse.

Below is a list of many of the different ways a partner can maintain an unhealthy balance of power and control in their intimate relationship.

Common Types of Domestic Violence

  • Emotional/psychological abuse: put-downs, insults, humiliation, ridiculing, gaslighting, shifting responsibility for abusive behaviors to the victim, denying the abuse
  • Isolation: Controlling social interactions, friendships, relationships with family; limiting or monitoring what the person reads, watches, or does on social media; using jealousy as an excuse for behavior; making the person move away from their friends/family or to a remote location
  • Intimidation and threats: Using threats, looks, and gestures to make the person afraid; destruction of property; abusing pets; showing off weapons; threatening to leave if the person doesn’t comply; threatening physical harm; threatening to report the person to welfare or CPS; threatening legal retaliation or to take custody of children; yelling; getting in the person’s face
  • Financial abuse: Preventing the person from getting or keeping a job; giving the person a limited “allowance” or forcing them to ask for money; limited or no access to financial records, banking, etc; making the person be in charge of all the financial decisions or forcing them to work more to make more money but refusing to contribute themselves; making irresponsible financial choices in the other person’s name (i.e. opening credit cards, establishing loans, or racking up debt)
  • Sexual abuse: manipulating or controlling contraception, unwanted touch, withholding sex as punishment, ridiculing sexual performance, using coercion, using sex after an argument, cheating, forcing the person to have sex with others for money or drugs, sexual assault, rape
  • Physical abuse: shoving, pushing, scratching, holding the person down, slapping, punching, kicking, choking

Power and Control Wheel

The Power and Control Wheel diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a perpetrator to establish and maintain control over his partner. 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.


Healthy Relationship Wheel

The Healhty Relationship Wheel is what a healthy relationship would look like, one based on respect, trust, and nonviolence. For instance, instead of using coercion and threats, a partner would resolve conflict or disagreement based on negotiation and fairness. The Equality Wheel was developed not to describe equality per se, but to describe the changes needed for men who batter to move from being abusive to non-violent partnership.Compare and contrast the Power and Control wheel with the Equality Wheel use them to learn more about the many forms of domestic violence.

THE Healthy Relationship Wheel


If you or a friend have questions about domestic violence, available resources, or components of a healthy relationship, please consider calling YWCA Spokane’s 24hr helpline at 509-326-2255 to speak with a friendly and confidential advocate.

Partner With US

If you or your place of work would like to schedule a domestic violence 101 training or partner with YWCA Spokane to help spread awareness about services and end domestic violence in our community, please contact YWCA Education and Outreach Advocate, Jemma Riedel, at 509.789.9304 or email jemmar@ywcaspokane.org.

By: Erica Schreiber

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