Abuse comes in many forms and is often difficult to detect. Understanding common types of abuse, which range from physical injury to financial exploitation, is the first step in ending a pattern of power and control.
Physical abuse is intentional but unwanted physical contact. Physical abuse can lead to injury and, in extreme cases, death. Examples of physical abuse include:
- Punching, kicking, hitting, biting, pushing
- Pulling hair or pulling/grabbing at clothing
- Throwing objects
- Physically preventing leaving or forcefully making you go somewhere
- Unwanted sexual contact or forcing sexual acts
- Using guns, knives or other weapons to threaten or injure
Verbal and emotional abuse are often used together in an effort to control a victim. Abusers may threaten their victims by yelling and screaming at them. They may make demeaning comments about a victim’s physical appearance, intellect, or worth. They may say things like “no one else would ever want you.” Verbal abuse can lead to, or be used along with, emotional abuse.
Emotional or psychological abuse is one tactic used by abusers to control their victims. The effects of emotional abuse can also lead a victim to falsely believe that their abuser will change. It can also make them question their own self-worth, making safety planning more difficult. Abusers may exert emotional abuse over their victims in a number of ways, including:
- Put downs and name calling
- Humiliating them in front of others
- Making them feel guilty or blaming them for the abuse
- Behaviors and comments to erode their self-esteem
- Playing mind games
Financial abuse occurs in approximately 98% of abusive relationships, yet is the least known form of abuse. This form of abuse is one of the most powerful tactics of power and control. It is so powerful that many victims of abuse describe it as the main reason that they stayed in an abusive relationship or went back to one. Financial abuse creates intentioned dependence on an abuser and serves to entrap a victim in the relationship.
Some forms of financial abuse include:
- Giving an allowance
- Not letting the victim have his or her own money
- Hiding family assets
- Running up debt
- Interfering with employment
- Ruining credit
Elder Abuse or Intimate Partner Violence In Later Life
Intimate Partner Violence in Later Life (IPVILL) is any physical, sexual, or psychological abuse of individuals aged 60 and older by a current or former intimate partner, spouse, or family member. IPVILL encompasses neglect, abandonment, and financial exploitation – one of most vulnerable areas for the elderly population. IPVILL may be perpetrated by another person or an entity, and can occur in any setting at home, in an institution, or in the community.
Signs of Elder Abuse or IPVILL include:
- Unexplained bruising
- Unexplained lack of funds
- Unable to pay bills when there were no previous problems
- Missing medications
- Seeming over medicated or under medicated
- Sudden pull from enjoyable activities
- Lack of hygiene
- Missing or broken medical equipment
Intimate Partner Abuse
Intimate partner abuse is any physical, sexual or psychological harm caused by a current or former intimate partner or spouse. Intimate partner violence can occur in both heterosexual and LGBTQ+ relationships.
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have reported experiencing severe physical violence from a partner in their lifetime.
Domestic Violence and the LGBTQ+ Community
Domestic violence occurs regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation. The same tactics of power and control used in heterosexual relationships are also used against victims in same-sex and transgender relationships. However, LGBTQ+ survivors experience additional tactics of power and control by their abuser including:
- Telling the victim they will not be believed because of biases
- Convincing victims services are not available to LGBTQ+ individuals
- Threatening to “out” the victim or expose HIV or transitioning status
- Telling the victim they deserve the abuse, and/or that they do not have the support of family and friends because of their gender or sexual identity
- Restricting or withholding medication or treatment