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Generally speaking, abuse is any behavior that results in the mistreatment of another. There are seven major kinds of abuse: physical, emotional/verbal, social, sexual, spiritual, financial, and systems. To describe what is meant by “mistreatment of another”, some common examples of abuse are listed below:

Physical Abuse

  • Destroying your belongings.
  • Throwing objects at you.
  • Touching you in ways that hurt or scare you.
  • Twisting your arm, slapping, or biting you.
  • Pushing or shoving you.
  • Depriving you of food, shelter, money or clothing.
  • Threatening you with weapons.
  • Hitting, punching, or kicking you.
  • Strangling or throwing you.
  • Abusing you to the point you need medical treatment.
  • Breaking your bones and/or causing internal injuries.
  • Causing a miscarriage or injuries that require a therapeutic abortion.
  • Denying you medical treatment.
  • Inflicting permanent disabling and/or disfiguring injuries.

Emotional/Verbal Abuse

  • Taunting you in the name of “fun”.
  • Ignoring you and/or your feelings.
  • Insulting you repeatedly.
  • Yelling at you.
  • Telling you that you will fail.
  • Blaming you for her/his faults.
  • Threatening you with violence or retaliation.
  • Threatening to hurt your pets.
  • Threatening to abuse the children and/or get custody of them.
  • Telling you that you must stay because you can’t make it alone.
  • Accusing you of being violent when you protect yourself in any way.
  • Labeling you as crazy, stupid, bitch, bastard, ugly, or a whore.
  • Blaming you for things that go wrong.
  • Holding back approval as a form of punishment.

Social Abuse

  • Insulting you publicly.
  • Controlling your use of money.
  • Putting down your abilities.
  • Checking up on you.
  • Taping conversations.
  • Following you from place to place – stalking
  • Demanding all of your attention and resenting any focus on others.
  • Making a public display of destroying property.
  • Threatening to hurt your extended family and friends.
  • Isolating you from friends or activities.
  • Spending paychecks without meeting obligations.

Sexual Abuse

  • Talking about you or others as sexual objects.
  • Forcing you to have sex, including sex after a beating.
  • Criticizing your sexual performance.
  • Withholding affection to punish you.
  • Accusing you of looking at, talking to, or having sex with another.
  • Forcing you to engage in sexual activities that are uncomfortable for you.
  • Inflicting harm or mutilation of your genitals.
  • Strangling or slapping you during sex.

Spiritual Abuse

  • Discounting your sense of right and wrong.
  • Denying, minimizing, or ridiculing your spiritual beliefs.
  • Denying your value as a person with legitimate wants and likes.
  • Questioning your motives for just about everything.
  • Questioning your sense of reality.
  • Refusing to allow you access to worship communities or support groups.

Adapted from: It’s Not Okay Anymore, Greg Enns and Jan Black, Hannibal House, Inc., 1996.

Systems Abuse

  • Violating restraining and protection orders.
  • Lying to officials – including Judges – concerning legal information (property value, income, insurance and retirement benefits, etc.).
  • Counter suing for divorce and/or custody after victim has applied.
  • Filing a restraining or protection order on the victim before the victim files against the abuser.
  • Making false statements and/or coercing children into false statements explaining the types and amount of abuse in attempt to minimize the impact.

Financial Abuse

  • Withholding, diverting, or embezzling funds.
  • Controlling funds so victim does not have access to purchasing basic needs.
  • Denying the victim the right to seek and/or maintain employment.
  • Taking victim’s personal money with or without permission.
  • Excluding the victim from making financial decisions.