Forms of Abuse

There are multiple forms of abuse that can all have equally hurtful and damaging effects on survivors. 

No form of abuse is more severe than others.


1. Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is any action that causes physical pain or injury, including hitting, kicking, pushing, or punching.  This is usually the easiest form of abuse to spot because there may be visible evidence of violence on the survivor, such as bruises or scabs; however, physical abuse is not always seen on the body of a survivor.  If a male* pushes a woman but no mark exists, she still becomes a survivor of physical abuse.

2. Psychological/Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse consists of verbal attacks, humiliation, breaking one’s possessions, or any actions that cause loss of self-esteem, including name-calling, swearing, or criticizing.  Because the abuse does not leave visible, physical injury, it can be very difficult to spot.  Psychological abusers normally inflict emotional abuse to control their partner.  These negative outbursts tend to be linked with jealousy, distrust, anger, and accusations.


3. Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is any act of a sexual nature, including, but not limited to, touching, intercourse, or exploitation of one’s body that is unwanted, unwelcome, or pressured.  Sexual abuse can happen between strangers, dating couples, and even married couples.  Women have the right to say no to men and not partake in sexual activities, whether it be from taking pictures for sexual purposes and pleasures to actual sexual intercourse.

4. Financial/Economic Abuse: Economic abuse is the withholding and controlling of access to resources, such as money, insurance, or shelter.  There are many creative actions a perpetrator can implement to control a person.  Being in charge of financial resources is very advantageous and can make it even more difficult for a survivor to leave an abusive relationship.


5. Spiritual Abuse: Spiritual abuse occurs when a leader of a religious or belief system misuses his authority and power to manipulate, dominate, and control his followers.  The religious group tends to have an elitist view, and questioning life styles, beliefs, and behaviors are not allowed.  An example of a spiritual abuser is Jim Jones, founder of the People's Temple.


6. Neglect: Neglect is the most common form of abuse.  It occurs when parents or guardians do not provide adequate food, shelter, safety, clothes, etc. to their children or persons in their care, such as the elderly.  It exists amongst various families of different socio-economic statuses.

*We use feminine pronouns to describe survivors and masculine pronouns to describe abusers because a majority of domestic abuse cases involve males abusing females.  The forms of abuse can be applied to all persons, and some females are the abusers while some males are the survivors.

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