What is Abuse?
Abuse is the use or threat to use physical, sexual, or verbal behavior to coerce a partner to do something one wants; to degrade or humiliate; to gain or maintain a sense of power or control; to act out one's anger inappropriately. Abusive behavior may include subtle or covert harm as well as life threatening acts of violence. Abusive behavior creates an atmosphere of intimidation in a relationship. Abuse can be divided into three categories: physical, psychological, and sexual.
Physical Abuse is any forceful, physical behavior. It may take many different forms.
The following are examples:
Pushed or shoved the partner
Held partner down, tied, or otherwise physically restrained partner from leaving
Threw objects at partner that may or may not have hit her
Abandoned partner in a dangerous place
Refused to get partner help (medical attention) when she was sick, injured, or
Denied or interfered with partner meeting basic physical needs, (eating, sleeping)
Drove recklessly with partner in car in order to intimidate her
Kept partner from driving or forced her off the road
Harmed or threatened to harm someone or something important to partner as a
way to punish her (child, pet, cherished possession)
Tickled partner against her will
Bit, kicked, pinched or pulled partner's hair or other body part
Hit or punched partner
Hit or beat partner with an object
Threatened partner with a weapon
Used a weapon on partner
Psychological Abuse involves hurt, anger, fear, and degradation. The object of such abuse is to bolster the abusive partner's sense of self-esteem by being "one up" over his partner. This behavior tends to render the partner emotionally helpless with less self-worth or ability to escape further abuse. When there is the threat of violence and/or there has been at least one act of physical or sexual abuse, the following behaviors contribute to and maintain the atmosphere of intimidation characteristics of abusive relationships.
Ignored or belittled partner's feelings
Withheld approval, appreciation or affection as punishment for some perceived
Insulted partner's friends and/or family, driving them away
Humiliated or shamed partner in private or public
Kept partner from working, controlled her money, made all the decisions,
Demanded she seek permission to do or have anything
Limited partner's access to transportation
Destroyed, sold, or gave away things important to partner without her consent
Abused pet to punish partner
Punished or deprived children when angry at partner
Controlledor limited partner's behavior and cut her off from support (not
(letting her use the phone, seeing family or friends, being active in the community)
Threatened to hurt partner's friends or family
Harassed partner about affairs he imagined she had
Blamed partner for any problems (real or perceived) with the children
Threatened to hurt or kidnap the children if partner ever left
Threatened partner with harassment or violence if she tried to leave the relationship
Regularly threatened to leave or told partner to leave the relationship
Continually criticized partner, calling her names, shouting at her, conveying the
message that nothing she does is ever good enough, no matter what she does or
how hard she tries
Told partner it was her fault when physical or sexaul abuse occurred--that she
asked for it, deserved it, liked it
Denied that behavior is abusive and/or minimized abusiveness-calling the partner
crazy, weak, or stupid; accusing partner of making it up, not being able to handle it
Threats to disclose information about partner she wishes to keep confidential
Threatened self-abuse or suicide if partner did not do what was wanted or tried
to leave the relationship
ARE YOU BEING ABUSED?
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you frightened by your partner's temper?
Are you afraid to disagree?
Are you constantly apologizing for your partner's behavior, especially
when he/she has treated you badly?
Do you have to justify everything you do, every place you go, or every
person you see just to avoid your partner's anger?
Does your partner put you down, but then tells you that he/she loves you?
Have you ever been hit, kicked, shoved, or had things thrown at you?
Do you not see friends or family because of your partner's jealousy?
Have you been forced to have sex when you didn't want to?
Are you afraid to break up because your partner has threatened to hurt
you or themselves?
PROGRESSION OF VIOLENCE
Verbal abuse (name calling, "You're a bad mother," You're stupid")
Hitting objects (showing force or strength)
Throwing objects, breaking objects or making the victim break objects (usually
something that belongs to her/him or something they treasure)
Making threats (I'll kill you, the kids, your family, myself; I'll leave you, turn you in to
child welfare, I'll take the kids and you'll never see them again)
* When abusers hit or break objects or make threats, almost 100% of them resort to
Pushing, grabbing, restraining (holding her down or threatening her, "If you try to leave
I'll kill you." Or he won't let her out the door).
Slapping, punching, kicking, pulling out clumps of hair.
Stangulation (very dangerous because you can die up to 72 hours later. The vocal
cords continue to swell and breathing may be cut off. Beating with an object, (sticks,
ball bats, etc.)
Use of weapons, knives, cigarettes, cars, guns
Rape (one in three women in a battering relationship is raped). There are two types
of rape in domestic violence--with weapons or force, and submission out
of fear that saying "no" would cause him to become angrier and he would beat her or
hurt the children or family members.
*Marital rape is against the law in all 50 states*
Death or suicide/death