Updated: Feb 16
Categories of Domestic Violence
While the injuries of physical abuse are typically the most visible to an outsider and potentially the most lethal, the slow erosion of self-worth and personhood involved in other forms of domestic violence should not be overlooked or minimized. The following is an overview of the types of behaviors and injuries involved in common forms of domestic violence:
Physical abuse includes (Lindsey, McBride, & Platt, 1993):
Physically aggressive behavior, such as hitting, kicking, punching, stabbing, shooting, or threatening with a weapon.
Withholding of physical needs, such as food, shelter, medical treatment, or other necessities.
Abusing or threatening abuse or injury against loved ones, pets, or special property.
Restraining someone against their will or holding them hostage.
Destroying property or inanimate objects out of anger or during arguments.
Did You Know? One-third of female murder victims and 1 in 20 male murder victims are killed by an intimate partner (Bridges, Tatum, & Kunselman, 2008).
Sexual abuse involves forcing sex on another person or exploiting another person in a sexual way. Sexual abuse can be verbal or physical and can occur even when there has been prior consensual sexual activity. Examples include (Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Violence, n.d.):
Using force, manipulation, guilt, or coercion to make the victim engage in sex.
Exploiting a person in a sexual way who is unable to consent to sex because of age, disability, intoxication, or other impairment.
Making derogatory and offensive statements about a person’s body, sexuality, sexual preferences, or behaviors.
Making unwanted sexual contact with a person’s body in any nonconsensual way.
Exhibiting extreme jealousy, such as false accusations of infidelity, that lead to controlling behavior and limit the victim’s contact with others.
Having affairs and using the information to taunt the victim.
Attempting to control the victim by withholding sex.
Did You Know? Many Americans still do not consider nonconsensual sexual intercourse by a spouse as rape, and many states consider it a lesser crime than non-spousal rape (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, n.d.).
Emotional abuse includes behavior that takes advantage of the victim’s insecurities or vulnerabilities (Lindsey, McBride, & Platt, 1993). Examples include (Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Violence, n.d.):
Undermining the victim’s self-confidence through public humiliation, insults, or criticism.
Making direct or indirect threats with the intent to cause physical or emotional harm or loss.
Creating confusion and insecurity through the use of reality distorting behaviors or statements, such as denying events that clearly occurred or making it appear that the victim did something that they did not.
Consistently neglecting, ignoring, or disregarding the victim’s needs or requests.
Intentionally humiliating the victim with actions, gestures, or statements that attack the victim’s self-esteem.
Repeatedly telling the victim that they are incompetent or unstable.
Forcing the victim to ingest drugs or alcohol against their will.
Using religion to justify abuse or preventing the victim from practicing their religion or associating with their religious community.
Disempowering the victim in any way by using manipulation, force, or coercion.
Did You Know? Ninety-five percent of men who physically abuse an intimate partner also emotionally and psychologically abuse them (Henning & Klesges, 2003).
Economic abuse involves controlling the victim through the manipulation of financial resources. Examples include (Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Violence, n.d.):
Severely restricting the victim’s access to the family finances.
Hiding money from the victim or keeping financial secrets.
Not allowing the victim to have any say in how money is spent.
Making it impossible for the victim to make their own money by preventing them from taking a job or making it impossible for them to remain employed.
Spending money needed for necessities on nonessential items.
Did You Know? Between 21% and 60% of domestic violence victims end up losing their jobs because of reasons related to the abuse (Rothman, Hathaway, Stidsen, & and de Vries, 2007).
Psychological abuse involves the use of fear, isolation, or guilt to control or denigrate the victim. Examples include (Arizona Coalition to End Sexual Violence, n.d.):
Repeatedly calling the victim names, such as “bitch” or “whore.”
Telling the victim that they are unattractive, undesirable, or worthless.
Telling the victim that they will never be able to see their loved ones again.
Did You Know? Seventy percent of psychologically abused women exhibit symptoms of depression and/or post-traumatic stress disorder (Pico-Alfonso, et al., 2006).
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