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Types of Family Violence

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.

What we know

In the US, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. This equates to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.

Leaving an abusive relationship does not guarantee the reduction or elimination of violence or risk

Leaving may create new risks or increase existing ones (kidnapping, threats against family and friends)

The rates and seriousness of physical abuse increase during periods of separation or divorce.

Women with abusive partners often use welfare as a bridge out of these relationships.

Between 40-60% of current welfare recipients have experienced domestic violence at some point in their lives.  Up to 25% report that the abuse is a current problem.

More than 50% of battered women surveyed stayed with their abusive partners because they did not feel that they could support themselves and their children.

Types of Domestic Violence


Physical abuse is the use of physical force against another person in a way that ends up injuring the person, or puts the person at risk of being injured. Physical abuse ranges from physical restraint to murder. When someone talks of domestic violence, they are often referring to physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner.

pushing, throwing, kicking, slapping, grabbing, hitting, punching, beating, tripping, battering, bruising, choking, shaking, pinching, biting, holding, restraining, confinement, breaking bones, burning and includes assault with a weapon such as a knife, gun or other objects.


Sexual abuse often is linked to physical abuse; they may occur together, or the sexual abuse may occur after a bout of physical abuse.

Sexual abuse includes:

Sexual assault
forcing someone to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity
Sexual harassment
ridiculing another person to try to limit their sexuality or reproductive choices
Sexual exploitation
forcing someone to look at pornography, or forcing someone to participate in pornographic film-making).

Making degrading sexual comments, forcing sex, assaulting breasts or genitals, forcing a partner to have sex with a third person, criticizing appearance, bragging about infidelity, accusations of infidelity and forced cohabitation.


Verbal abuse creates emotional pain and mental anguish. It is a lie told to you or about you. Generally, verbal abuse defines people telling them what they are, what they think, their motives, and so forth. The best way to deal with a verbally abusive relationship, whether you are the target of verbal abuse or the perpetrator, is to find out everything you can about verbally abusive relationships and their dynamics. Usually one person is blaming, accusing, even name calling, and the other is defending and explaining.

name calling, yelling, making demeaning comments, threatening, belittling, constant phone calls, actively undermining her authority with the children, setting her up so he can humiliate her in public in front of family and friends.


Mental, psychological, or emotional abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Verbal or nonverbal abuse of a spouse or intimate partner consists of more subtle actions or behaviors than physical abuse. While physical abuse might seem worse, the scars of verbal and emotional abuse are deep. Studies show that verbal or nonverbal abuse can be much more emotionally damaging than physical abuse.

threatening or intimidating to gain compliance, destruction of the victim’s personal property and possessions, or threats to do so violence to an object (such as a wall or piece of furniture) or pet, in the presence of the intended victim, as a way of instilling fear of further violence yelling or screaming, name-calling, constant harassment embarrassing, making fun of, or mocking the victim, either alone within the household, in public, or in front of family or friends, criticizing or diminishing the victim’s accomplishments or goals, not trusting the victim’s decision-making, telling the victim that they are worthless on their own, without the abuser, excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family, excessive checking-up on the victim to make sure they are at home or where they said they would be saying hurtful things while under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and using the substance as an excuse to say the hurtful things, blaming the victim for how the abuser acts or feels, making the victim remain on the premises after a fight, or leaving them somewhere else after a fight, just to “teach them a lesson” or making the victim feel that there is no way out of the relationship.

Spiritual Abuse

using the spouse’s or intimate partner’s religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate them,  preventing the partner from practicing their religious or spiritual beliefs,  ridiculing the other person’s religious or spiritual beliefs or forcing the children to be reared in a faith that the partner has not agreed to.


Economic or financial abuse includes: withholding economic resources such as money or credit cards,  stealing from or defrauding a partner of money or assets exploiting the intimate partner’s resources for personal gain,  withholding physical resources such as food, clothes, necessary medications, or shelter from a partner and can also include preventing the spouse or intimate partner from working or choosing an occupation.

destroying property, prized possessions, relatives’ property, taking her money, restricting access to household finances, withholding medical treatment, not allowing her to work or attend school, forcing her to work or hold down multiple jobs