Types of Abuse

When the general public thinks about domestic violence, they usually think in terms of physical assault that results in visible injuries to the victim. This is only one type of abuse. There are several categories of abusive behavior, each of which has its own devastating consequences. Lethality involved with physical abuse may place the victim at higher risk, but the long term destruction of personhood that accompanies the other forms of abuse is significant and cannot be minimized.

Please explore the following sections to learn more about how to identify domestic violence.

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Types of Abuse

When the general public thinks about domestic violence, they usually think in terms of physical assault that results in visible injuries to the victim. This is only one type of abuse. There are several categories of abusive behavior, each of which has its own devastating consequences. Lethality involved with physical abuse may place the victim at higher risk, but the long term destruction of personhood that accompanies the other forms of abuse is significant and cannot be minimized.

Types of Abuse:

CONTROL
PHYSICAL ABUSE
SEXUAL ABUSE
EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND INTIMIDATION
ISOLATION
VERBAL ABUSE: COERCION, THREATS, and BLAMING
USING MALE PRIVILEGE
ECONOMIC ABUSE

CONTROL
Controlling behavior is a way for the batterer to maintain his dominance over the victim. Controlling behavior, the belief that he is justified in the controlling behavior, and the resultant abuse is the core issue in abuse of women. It is often subtle, almost always insidious, and pervasive. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Checking the mileage on the odometer following her use of the car.
  • Monitoring phone calls, using caller ID or other number monitoring devises, not allowing her to make or receive phone calls.
  • Not allowing her freedom of choice in terms of clothing styles, makeup or hairstyle. This may include forcing her to dress more seductively or more conservatively than she is comfortable.
  • Calling or coming home unexpectedly to check up on her. This may initially start as what appears to be a loving gesture, but becomes a sign of jealousy or possessiveness.
  • Invading her privacy by not allowing her time and space of her own.
  • Forcing or encouraging her dependency by making her believe that she is incapable of surviving or performing simple tasks without the batterer or on her own.
  • Using the children to control the mother by using the children as spies, threatening to kill, hurt or kidnap the children, physical and/or sexual abuse of the children, and threats to call Child Protective Services if the mother leaves the relationship.

PHYSICAL ABUSE
According to the AMEND Workbook for Ending Violent Behavior, physical abuse is any physically aggressive behavior, withholding of physical needs, indirect physically harmful behavior, or threat of physical abuse. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, shaking, pushing, pulling, punching, choking, beating, scratching, pinching, pulling hair, stabbing, shooting, drowning, burning, hitting with an object, threatening with a weapon, or threatening to physically assault.
  • Withholding of physical needs including interruption of sleep or meals, denying money, food, transportation, or help if sick or injured, locking victim into or out of the house, refusing to give or rationing necessities.
  • Abusing, injuring, or threatening to injure others like children, pets, or special property.
  • Forcible physical restraint against her will, being trapped in a room or having her exit blocked, being held down.
  • The batterer hitting or kicking walls, doors, or other inanimate objects during an argument, throwing things in anger,destruction of property.
  • Holding the victim hostage.

SEXUAL ABUSE
Sexual abuse is using sex in an exploitative fashion or forcing sex on another person. Having consented to sexual activity in the past does not indicate current consent. Sexual abuse may involve both verbal and physical behavior. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Using force, coercion, guilt, or manipulation or not considering the victim’s desire to have sex. This may include making her have sex with others, have unwanted sexual experiences, or be involuntarily involved in prostitution.
  • Exploiting a victim who is unable to make an informed decision about involvement in sexual activity because of being asleep, intoxicated, drugged, disabled, too young, too old, or dependent upon or afraid of the perpetrator.
  • Laughing or making fun of another’s sexuality or body, making offensive statements, insulting, or name-calling in relation to the victim’s sexual preferences/behavior.
  • Making contact with the victim in any nonconsensual way, including unwanted penetration (oral, anal or vaginal) or touching (stroking, kissing, licking, sucking or using objects) on any part of the victim’s body.
  • Exhibiting excessive jealousy resulting in false accusations of infidelity and controlling behaviors to limit the victim’s contact with the outside world.
  • Having affairs with other people and using that information to taunt the victim.
  • Withholding sex from the victim as a control mechanism.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE AND INTIMIDATION
According to the AMEND Workbook for Ending Violent Behavior, emotional abuse is any behavior that exploits anther’s vulnerability, insecurity, or character. Such behaviors include continuous degradation, intimidation, manipulation, brainwashing, or control of another to the detriment of the individual(AMEND 3). This may include but is not limited to:

  • Insulting or criticizing to undermine the victim’s self-confidence. This includes public humiliation, as well as actual or threatened rejection.
  • Threatening or accusing, either directly or indirectly, with intention to cause emotional or physical harm or loss. For instance, threatening to kill the victim or himself, or both.
  • Using reality distorting statements or behaviors that create confusion and insecurity in the victim like saying one thing and doing another, stating untrue facts as truth, and neglecting to follow through on stated intentions. This can include denying the abuse occurred and/or telling the victim she is making up the abuse. It might also include crazy making behaviors like hiding the victim’s keys and berating her for losing them.
  • Consistently disregarding, ignoring, or neglecting the victim’s requests and needs.
  • Using actions, statements or gestures that attack the victim’s self-esteem and self-worth with the intention to humiliate.
  • Telling the victim that she is mentally unstable or incompetent.
  • Forcing the victim to take drugs or alcohol.
  • Not allowing the victim to practice her religious beliefs, isolating her from the religious community, or using religion as an excuse for abuse.
  • Using any form of coercion or manipulation which is disempowering to the victim.

ISOLATION
Isolation is a form of abuse often closely connected to controlling behaviors. It is not an isolated behavior, but the outcome of many kinds of abusive behaviors. By keeping her from seeing who she wants to see, doing what she wants to do, setting and meeting goals, and controlling how she thinks and feels, he is isolating her from the resources (personal and public) which may help her to leave the relationship. By keeping the victim socially isolated the batterer is keeping her from contact with the world which might not reinforce his perceptions and beliefs. Isolation often begins as an expression of his love for her with statements like if you really loved me you would want to spend time with me, not your family. As it progresses, the isolation expands, limiting or excluding her contact with anyone but the batterer. Eventually, she is left totally alone and without the internal and external resources to change her life.
Some victims isolate themselves from existing resources and support systems because of the shame of bruises or other injuries, his behavior in public, or his treatment of friends or family. Self-isolation may also develop from fear of public humiliation or from fear of harm to herself or others. The victim may also feel guilty for the abuser’s behavior, the condition of the relationship, or a myriad of other reasons, depending on the messages received from the abuser.

VERBAL ABUSE: COERCION, THREATS, and BLAMING
Verbal abuse is any abusive language used to denigrate, embarrass or threaten the victim. This may include but is not limited to:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim or her children, family, pets, property or reputation.
  • Name calling (‘ugly’, ‘bitch’, ‘whore’, or ‘stupid’)
  • Telling victim she is unattractive or undesirable.
  • Yelling, screaming, rampaging, terrorizing or refusing to talk

USING MALE PRIVILEGE
As long as we as a culture accept the principle and privilege of male dominance, men will continue to be abusive. As long as we as a culture accept and tolerate violence against women, men will continue to be abusive.

According to Barbara Hart in Safety for Women: Monitoring Batterers’ Programs:
All men benefit from the violence of batterers. There is no man who has not enjoyed the male privilege resulting from male domination reinforced by the use of physical violence . . . All women suffer as a consequence of men’s violence. Battering by individual men keeps all women in line. While not every woman has experienced violence, there is no woman in this society who has not feared it, restricting her activities and her freedom to avoid it. Women are always watchful knowing that they may be the arbitrary victims of male violence. Only the elimination of sexism, the end of cultural supports for violence, and the adoption of a system of beliefs and values embracing equality and mutuality in intimate relationships will end men’s violence against women.

Domestic violence is about power and control. A feminist analysis of woman battering rejects theories that attribute the causes of violence to family dysfunction, inadequate communications skills, women’s provocation, stress, chemical dependency, lack of spiritual relationship to a deity, economic hardship, class practices, racial/ethnic tolerance, or other factors. These issues may be associated with battering of women, but they do not cause it. Removing these factors will not end men’s violence against women.

Batterers behave abusively to control their partner’s behavior, thereby achieving and maintaining power over their partners and getting their own needs and desires met quickly and completely. There are also many secondary benefits of violence to the batterer. A batterer may choose to be violent because he finds it fun to terrorize his partner, because there is a release of tension in the act of assault, because it demonstrates manhood, or because violence is erotic for him. Violence is a learned behavior and batterers choose to use violence. The victim is not part of the problem. The victim may accept responsibility for causing the batterer to lose their temper,î but the truth is, the abuser must be held accountable for his behavior.

Four widespread cultural conditions allow and encourage men to abuse women. These are:

  • Objectification of women and the belief that women exist for the ‘satisfaction of men’s personal, sexual, emotional and physical needs’.
  • An entitlement to male authority with a right and obligation to control, coerce, and/or punish her independence.
  • That the use of physical force is acceptable, appropriate, and effective.
  • Societal support for his dominance, controlling and assaultive behavior. By failing to intervene aggressively against the abuse, the culture condones the violence.

ECONOMIC ABUSE
Financial abuse is a way to control the victim through manipulation of economic resources. This may include, but is not limited to:
Controlling the family income and either not allowing the victim access to money or rigidly limiting her access to family funds. This may also include keeping financial secrets or hidden accounts, putting the victim on an allowance or allowing her no say in how money is spent, or making her turn her paycheck over to him.Causing the victim to lose a job or preventing her from taking a job. He can make her lose her job by making her late for work, refusing to provide transportation to work, or by calling/harassing/calling her at work.
Spending money for necessities (food, rent, utilities) on nonessential items (drugs, alcohol, stereo equipment, hobbies.)

Material from Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh Volunteer Training Manual, AMEND, and the AzCADV safety plain Manual were used to develop this section.

Arizona law defines stalking as follows:

Arizona Revised Statute 13-2923. Stalking; classification; definitions

A. A person commits stalking if the person intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct that is directed toward another person and if that conduct either:

  1. Would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of that person’s immediate family member and that person in fact fears for their safety or the safety of that person’s immediate family member.
  2. Would cause a reasonable person to fear physical injury to or death of that of that person or that person’s immediate family member and that person in fact fears physical injury to or death of that person or that person’s immediate family member.

B. Stalking, under subsection A, paragraph 1 of this section is a class 5 felony. Stalking under subsection A, paragraph 2 is a class 3 felony.

C. For the purposes of this section:

  1. “Course of conduct” means maintaining visual or physical proximity to a specific person or directing verbal, written or other threats, whether express or implied, to a specific person on two or more occasions over a period of time, however short, but does not include constitutionally protected activity.
  2. “Immediate family member” means a spouse, parent, child or sibling or any other person who regularly resides in person’s household or resided in a person’ s household within the past six months.

Common Stalking Behaviors

Below is a list of common stalking behaviors. Stalking during a relationship or after it has ended is high-risk behavior. It is typically defined as the willful, malicious and repeated following or harassing of another person, accompanied by a credible threat of violence. It has been increasingly recognized as a serious crime in the United States. Safety precautions must be taken if it is occurring to you or someone you love! And remember, in most states, these behaviors are also against the law.

  • Mailing cards or other cryptic messages
  • Breaking windows, breaking into or vandalizing partner’s home
  • Taking partner’s mail
  • Leaving things, such as flowers on doorstep or at work
  • Watching partner from a distance
  • Hang-up calls on the telephone
  • Following partner with a car or on foot
  • Hiding in bushes or other surveillance of partner’s home
  • Surveillance of partner at work
  • Other trespassing
  • Vandalizing partner’s property
  • Destroying property to scare or intimidate partner
  • Stealing things from partner
  • Breaking into partner’s house or car
  • Filing numerous pleadings in court cases
  • Filing for custody of children regardless of their needs
  • Not respecting visitation limitations
  • Harassing telephone calls or notes
  • Violation of restraining orders

Stalking Victim Recommendations

(This material was taken from recommendations developed by the Texas Council on Family Violence.)

Please be aware that a stalking situation may never be resolved to the victim’s satisfaction or to the satisfaction of the suspect. Also, not all the suggestions presented will be appropriate or feasible for all situations — each case is to be analyzed individually, as not any two relationships are the same.

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