Though certainly not a comprehensive list of methods of abuse in a relationship, these are some of the most common abusive tactics we have seen used to maintain power and control over another person.
Physical Force – An abusive person may misuse physical power to restrain, injure, and terrify their partner. This results in the establishment of fear and control in the relationship.
Sexual Abuse – This includes carrying out any sexual interaction that is unwanted by the person with whom you are being sexual. Manipulative and coercive behaviors that are intended to gain compliance are also forms of sexual abuse.
Verbal Abuse – A person using verbal violence may degrade their partner; call him or her names, and say cruel and hurtful things. The long-term negative consequences of this victimization can be as devastating as those of physical and sexual abuse.
Isolation – Abusers, once they have established power in the relationship, may isolate their partner by making it difficult or impossible for her to be with family and friends. He may block his partner’s access to the use of a vehicle, work opportunities, telephone and internet services, and any or all connections to the world outside of the relationship.
Financial Abuse – A person behaving abusively may take complete control of the household money. Threats to withhold money are used to control the family.
Threats – Abusers may tell their partners and/or children how they will hurt them if they do not obey.
Breaking or Striking Objects – Abusive behavior may include breaking household items, punching holes in walls, or kicking doors to scare the victim.
Lying – Abusive people often lie to themselves and others. They put a “spin” on events in their lives in order to avoid responsibility for the violence that they perpetrate. Lying about affairs and finances are common occurrences.
Jealousy – At times, people confuse or equate feelings of jealousy with feelings of love. An abusive person may frequently and suspiciously ask questions about their partner’s conversations, whereabouts, activities, and experiences. A person who is behaving abusively may become verbally and/or physically aggressive and accusatory when, for any reason, they are not the focus of their partner’s attention.
Manipulation – A person who is behaving abusively will attempt to justify their abusive behavior by relating it to their “concern” or “love” for their partner. They may also attempt to exploit their partner’s feelings of love and compassion.
Unrealistic Expectations – A person behaving abusively may expect their partner to meet all of their needs, to take care of everything for them emotionally and/or domestically.
Blames Others for Problems, Emotions, and Abusive Behavior – A perpetrator of intimate partner violence will often blame others (usually partners and other family members) for their abusive behavior and negative emotions. Perpetrators of domestic violence CHOOSE to use violence as a means of controlling their partners and children. Learning to take responsibility for the violence that they perpetrate and the consequences of that violence is the first step toward becoming a person who will embrace non-violence as a way a life.
Use of Children – An abusive person may use the children to control their spouse. Children are at times asked to monitor the behavior of one parent and report on that behavior to the other.
Cruelty to Animals – Abusive behavior may include injury to the family pets.
Duel Personality – “Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde” – A person behaving abusively may shift quickly between moods. The victim may feel like she has to “walk on eggshells” not knowing what to expect.
Minimizing or Denying Violence – Perpetrators of domestic violence often say things like, “It’s not that bad,” “I didn’t do anything,” and “You’re just overreacting.” Over time, this kind of “crazy making” behavior can cause a victim of abuse to question herself and the reality and seriousness of the nightmare that they are experiencing.