Domestic violence and abuse takes a number of forms, even though you may think that it involves only physical threat and visible injury. Abuse is behaviour that instils fear in someone through direct or indirect controlling, manipulation, threats, psychological and emotional torment over a period of time.
These are tactics used repeatedly and deliberately in order to gain power and control over someone. The effect of the abusive behaviour is that the victim gradually becomes more and more dependent on the abuser, as their own sense of self and their inner reality becomes more fragile and distorted.
Firstly, a few facts about domestic violence:
- Any type of violence is a human rights violation
- Domestic violence is an abuse of power, but it is far more complex than just this
- No type of violence or abuse is acceptable or excusable
- Domestic violence has far reaching and devastating repercussions on victims and their family
- Domestic violence significantly impacts the community socially and economically
- Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, location, socio-economic status, culture, sexual identity ethnicity or religion.
9 Types of Domestic Violence and Abuse
- Public or private threats,
- Language intended to demean or belittle,
- Minimising and dismissive of partner’s feelings or opinions,
- Stone-walling (silent treatment),
- Criticism of choice of clothes, beliefs, wishes, feelings, opinions and needs.
- Abusers may also make you look wrong and them always right.
- Actual or threatened acts including choking, hitting, pushing, slapping, cutting, spitting, punching, use of weapons, smashing objects,
- Sleep deprivation,
- Denying food and drink.
Even if it has only happened once, it is still abusive, and could set a precedent for it happening again.
- This type of abuse is particularly insidious and can have a longer-lasting impact than physical abuse. It is closely associated with verbal abuse as the intent is to chip away at your very core: your self-esteem and self-worth.
- It can lead to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. Quite often in a relationship, emotional and psychological abuse can escalate into physical abuse.
- If you partner’s language has you questioning whether you are good enough as a person or a parent, this is emotional abuse.
- If your partner has increasingly isolated you from your friends and family, or makes you feel bad about seeing them, this is also emotional abuse.
- If your partner consistently makes you feel ashamed or trivialises your achievements, this is emotional abuse.
- Emotional abuse can be non-verbal: it may involve demeaning or contemptuous looks or body language.
- If your partner twists your words around so that you end up taking the blame, this is a type of emotional abuse called gaslighting. My blog post entitled “3 Lesser Known Types of Domestic Violence” covers this in greater detail.
Sexual abuse constitutes any form of non-consensual sex act, and which may be painful or humiliating. It also includes unwanted sexual advances, touch and contact. Regardless of cultural background, in Australia marital rape is a criminal offence, not a husband or wife’s cultural ‘right’.
My blog post entitled “3 Lesser Known Types of Domestic Violence” covers this in detail. It is a major contributing factor for why a person doesn’t “just leave” a relationship.
If you are being made to account for everything you have spent, this is financial abuse. If discussions around finance and money consistently incite anger and a fight from your partner, this is financial abuse.
Financial abuse can also be when your partner refuses to earn money, and uses your income to gamble, or run up debt.
Being denied access to money by your partner, or being made to eke out funds each week is also financial abuse.
Any type of persistent ridicule or efforts to demean your spiritual beliefs or practice is a form of abuse. If you are being prevented from attending or belonging to a religious or spiritual group of your choice is also a form of abuse.
This involves being isolated from friends and family networks, or being prohibited from contacting them. This may also involve being abused or put-down in public. An abuser may also say derogatory things about your friends and family in an effort to further isolate you from them.
Stalking is a criminal offence (it has to happen more than once to qualify as an offence). It can become intensified when an abuser senses that their partner is thinking about leaving the relationship, and further after the relationship has ended. Stalking includes:
- breaching a restraining order (AVO),
- sending unwanted or threatening items in the mail,
- waiting in places he or she knows you frequent, such as work,
- following you (this includes in person or online, such as on social media),
- making persistent phone calls, text messages or emails,
- A newer form of stalking is having a GPS tracker unknowingly attached to your phone.
This form of abuse is covered in my blog “3 Lesser Known Types of Domestic Violence” as technology abuse has created a whole new level of threat in relation to domestic violence. GPS trackers are easily and cheaply available, and are not just restricted to electronic devices. They can also be attached to items such as clothes, and even children’s toys.
Spyware can also be attached to your computer or laptop without you knowing, and can follow your online ‘tracks’ (even if you have cleared the cache and browser history). Passwords and pin codes for online accounts and mobile phones may need to be changed. Publishing someone’s personal information and photos online without consent is also a criminal offence.
Any Form of Control Is Not Normal
It can come as a surprise for someone to realise that they are in an abusive and controlling relationship; this is normal. When the control tactics have been so covert and incremental, this behaviour can seem normal. None of the behaviour outlined in this article is acceptable or normal, and any one of these can take an emotional, physical and mental toll on your health.
Abusive behaviour only escalates over time; don’t think that by ignoring it that it will go away.If you suspect you are involved in an abusive relationship – or if you suspect someone you know is – seek help as soon as you can. At Chrysalis Health and Wellbeing I offer a free 20 minute phone consultation to help you to determine if counselling is the next step for you. Click on the button below to make contact.