Different Types of Abuse

Statistics and preventative methods

Physical

  • According to the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, physical abuse is the “non-accidental use of force that results in bodily injury, pain, or impairment. This includes, but is not limited to, being slapped, burned, cut, bruised or improperly physically restrained.”
  • As a means to control their victims, physical abuse often occurs alongside other forms of abuse such as financial, sexual abuse and emotional abuse.
  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.
  • 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Physical abuse has long-lasting effects.  A person who has experienced physical abuse, especially in childhood, may be more likely to experience emotional and psychological difficulties later in life.
  • Physical abuse often occurs in cycles and not all parts of the relationship may be physically abusive.

Examples of physical abuse include:

  • Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking.
  • Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate.
  • Pulling your hair.
  • Pushing or pulling you.
  • Grabbing your clothing.
  • Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon.
  • Smacking your bottom without your permission or consent.
  • Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act.
  • Grabbing your face to make you look at them.
  • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.

Effects of physical abuse include anxiety, difficulty forming relationships, low self-esteem, suicidal tendencies, depression, eating disorders.

Verbal

  • Verbal abuse is the repeated use of words to demean, frighten or control someone.
  • Verbal abuse is a means to dominate and control someone.
  • Verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish. It is a lie told to you or about you. Verbal abuse defines people, telling them what they are, what/how to think and their motives.
  • Verbal abuse does not only happen in the context of romantic relationships, it also happens in parent-child relationships.
  • Verbal abuse prevents real relationships.
  • 1 in 5 college women have been verbally abused by a partner.
  • We often believe that we can recognize verbal abuse when it happens. However, verbal abuse takes various forms and happens on a daily basis. There is a difference between arguing and verbal abuse and we sometimes blur the lines between the two.
  • Forms of verbal abuse include: name calling, crude remarks, threats, condescending, yelling/screaming, hostility, sarcasm and mockery, put downs, denial, blaming, gas lighting, undermining, degradation, criticism.
  • Effects of verbal abuse include stress, anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, memory gaps, low self-esteem, PTSD.
  • The effects of verbal abuse on children ages 18 and under include substance abuse (more prevalent in males), physical aggression, delinquency, and social problems.

Psychological

  • Psychological abuse, also known as emotional or mental abuse, is often referred to as “hidden injuries” because it is difficult to identify and endangers women the most.
  • Unlike physical abuse with obvious harm, these “hidden injuries” target a woman’s thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
  • Depression, low self-esteem, anxiety and trauma often erupt as a result of psychological abuse.
  • Psychological abuse is meant to exert control over your life while keeping you captive to their whims and demands.
  • Signs of psychological abuse include: control, shame, humiliation, criticizing, accusing, denial, blame, emotional neglect, isolation, codependence.
  • Men are slightly more likely than women to be on the receiving end of psychological abuse by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Nearly half of men (48.8%) and half women (48.4%) have experienced psychological abuse by an intimate partner during their lifetime.
  • The most common form of psychological abuse by an intimate partner that is experienced by male and female victims differs. For women it is being called names (like ugly, fat, stupid) (64.3%) and for men it is having one’s whereabouts tracked (63.1%).

Some effects of psychological abuse:

  • If you were confident and self-assured before your relationship, you’re likely to find yourself suddenly self-doubting and insecure.
  • If you felt grounded and trusted yourself, you are likely to become confused and indecisive.
  • If you were happy and content, you’re apt to feel emotionally exhausted and anxious.
  • If you were competent and thought well of yourself, you may come to feel unsure and incapable.
  • If you once knew what you believed, you’re possibly losing confidence and trust in your own judgment.
  • If you had insecurities, they will only intensify as they are used against you.

Digital

  • Remember what information you have about yourself online. Once this information is online, it is very difficult to erase from the internet.
  • Change all of your passwords and PIN codes, and keep this information private.
  • Keep your social media pages on private and unfriend your abuser.
  • Open a new email account for personal communications, and keep hidden from your abuser.
  • Remove personal information from websites and social media including phone numbers, emails, addresses and employers.
  • Turn off location services and check-ins on all devices.
  • Always cover your laptop camera with a sticker and remove only when needed.
  • Click links with caution.  Social media accounts are regularly hacked.  Look out for language or content that does not sound like something your friend would post.
  • If possible, purchase a new computer and cellphone (consider a pay as you go phone and using a computer at a library or of a trusted friend). 
  • Tell people not to post personal information, tag photos, or check-ins with you over social media
  • Revenge Porn – The distribution of sexually graphic images without the consent of the subject of the images. The abuser obtains images or videos in the course of a prior relationship, or hacks into the victim’s computer, social media accounts or phone. The unauthorized sharing of sexualized images is still not illegal in the majority of US states. Twenty-two states now have laws on the books and proposed national legislation is being drafted.
  • Harassment – is meant to embarrass, humiliate, scare, threaten, silence, or extort a person. If you feel any of this is being done to you, do not ignore it.

Financial Abuse

  • Financial abuse, also known as coerced debt, is a less visible yet long-lasting damage often present in domestic violence.
  • By blocking or controlling access to financial assets, abusers can coerce their victims into staying with them or coming back if they try to leave. This locks victims into a cycle of abuse
  • Financial abuse impacts victims in a myriad of ways, some of which include: stress, depression, fear, anxiety, low self-esteem and confidence.

Some examples of financial abuse include:

  • Ruining credit scores by taking out loans in the name of their victims.
  • Harassing them at the workplace until they eventually lose their job and source of income.
  • Preventing them from going to job interviews.
  • Forbidding them to look at bank statements or bills.
  • Stripping them of all financial decisions and access to bank accounts by placing the money in their name.
  • Identity theft.
  • Restricting their ability to provide for their children.

According to the Allstate Foundation Purple Purse, financial illiteracy and a lack of finances is the number one deciding factor for a survivor to stay, leave or return to an abusive relationship. A 2014 survey commissioned by the Allstate Foundation found that while 98% of domestic-violence victims also experienced financial abuse, 78% of Americans had not heard about financial abuse as it relates to domestic violence. Financial literacy is crucial for survivors in their journey towards independence. Financial literacy can help women recover from abusive relationships.

Here are some steps towards which survivors can gain financial independence:

  • Build financial confidence by enrolling in classes on money management.
  • Change the beneficiary on your account to someone other than your abuser.
  • Collect and safeguard the details of your financial life, including your existing accounts, assets and any debts. Abusers often hide this information from their partners.
  • Save money in your own name, so you have access to cash. If this is difficult because you’re still in the abusive relationship, then options include saving change​, taking money out of your paycheck and putting in a separate account under a friend’s address, so the abuser doesn’t find out about it.
  • When leaving an abusive relationship, try to take at least half of the money from all joint accounts, so the abuser doesn’t drain the accounts and leave you with nothing.
  • Plan your finances ahead of time and make a budget for your spending, when you leave.
  • Build a credit history in your own name by having your own credit card, bank account and other accounts, and have the statements delivered electronically.
  • Protect your identity by keeping your Social Security number and other personal details, such as pin numbers, safe and sharing them with as few people as possible. Change them if necessary.
  • Check if your state offers the address confidentiality program, so your address stays hidden from your abuser.