Types of Abuse
Many people believe that if they are not being physically hurt by their partner, they are not being abused. This is not true. Emotional abuse is anything that the batterer says or does to the survivor that causes the survivor to be afraid, lowers the survivor's self esteem, or manipulates or controls the survivor's feelings or behavior. Emotional abuse follows a pattern; it happens over and over. Emotional abuse may include, but is not limited to, the following behaviors:
- Name-calling and put-downs
- Yelling and screaming
- Intentionally embarrassing the survivor in front of others
- Keeping the survivor from seeing or talking with friends and family
- Telling the survivor what to do
- Making the survivor feel responsible for the violence
- Threatening to commit suicide
- Threats of violence and harm, or to expose the survivor's secrets (such as sexual orientation or immigration status) or to take away the survivor's children
- Threats of cutting off resources and/or care giving (especially if the survivor is disabled and/or requires medical attention)
- Preventing the survivor from sleeping
- Ignoring the survivor's feelings
Emotional abuse goes with other forms of abuse but may also happen on its own. If you have ever been told anything like this by your partner:
- "You're so stupid!"
- "Nobody else would ever want you."
- "You look disgusting."
- "You always twist things around."
- "I don't know why I put up with you!"
- "You'll never be good enough to do that."
- "You're crazy!"
This is emotional abuse. Emotional abuse…
- Does not get better over time. It only gets worse.
- Can be more hurtful than physical abuse.
- Can make you feel afraid, vulnerable, powerless and isolated.
- Can cause:
- Constant headaches
- Back, leg, arm and stomach problems or other physical ailments
Financial self-sufficiency is a critical factor in survivors' ability to escape an abusive relationship and to maintain independence from the batterer for themselves and their children. Batterers commonly use economic abuse to control their victims' finances and prevent them from leaving a dangerous relationship. Many people associate domestic violence with physical cuts and bruises, but damage to credit scores and being cut of from access to money can make it hard for survivors to become financially independent.
Examples of economic abuse include, but are not limited to:
- Taking money, credit cards or property from a partner without his/her permission
- Racking up debt without a partner's knowledge
- Purposely ruining a partner's credit score
- Forbidding a partner from earning money or attending school
- Being forced by a partner to hand over paychecks
- Cancelling insurance or credit cards without the partner's knowledge
- Harassing a partner at work to negatively impact a job
- Putting partner on an impossible "budget"
- Denying necessities of life to a partner and/or children
- Having checking and savings accounts that are unknown to the partner
- Requiring the partner to account for every penny of household or other funds
For more information, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website (PDF).