There are multiple types of abuse. It isn’t always obvious or aggressive. It’s not always beatings or violence. Sometimes it’s subtle or passive-aggressive. Abusive people are generally suave and persuasive. They pull you in with “love-bombing” – a form of manipulation. Early warning signs of an abusive person include boasting or bragging, being needy, lying and manipulating, oversensitivity, quick to commit, jealousy, controlling behavior, history of violence or abuse, possessiveness, rage, insisting on “my way,” self-centered, ignore boundaries, sabotages friendships, insults your loved ones, and are overly defensive.
The best-known type of abuse is physical abuse. However, physical abuse isn’t just punching, kicking, shoving, pinching, etc. It also manifests in the form of neglect and abandonment. Preventing a person from access to necessities – food, water, medicine, etc. – is physical abuse.
Physical abuse is any physical force that injures you or puts your health in danger. Physical abuse can include shaking, burning, choking, hair-pulling, hitting, slapping, kicking, and any type of harm with a weapon like a knife or a gun. It can also include threats to hurt you, your children, your pets, or family members. Physical abuse can also include restraining you against your will, by tying you up or locking you in a space. Physical abuse in an intimate partner (romantic or sexual) relationship is also called domestic violence.
Verbal & Emotional Abuse
Just because you aren’t being hurt physically doesn’t mean you aren’t being abused. Verbal abuse is a form of abuse using words. Many say that non-physical abuse is more difficult to heal from than physical forms, however many times physical abuse presents with other forms of abuse such as verbal or emotional. But many victims say they’d rather just be hit than be verbally, mentally, emotionally, or sexually abused. External injuries heal a lot faster.
Verbal abuse includes insults (again these can be subtle as well as obvious), using words to manipulate or control you, isolate you, or scare you, or the use of yelling, screaming, or threatening you. “Gaslighting” is another form of emotional abuse.
“Gaslighting” is the word used when an abuser makes you feel like you are losing your mind or memory.
Sexual abuse includes sexual assault and rape. It is any type of unwanted sexual activity. This can even occur within marriage and is known as marital rape. Sexual assault can also be more passive-aggressive and subtle – it can present in the form of manipulation or “guilt-tripping.”
No means no. If you say no, but they take it anyways – either by force or manipulating their way in – you kind of just “let it happen” but you still didn’t consent – it is still rape. You do not have to put up a physical fight to “be raped.” Rape doesn’t always look like what you see on TV. No means no.
If you are drunk, passed out, asleep, blacked out, and unable to consent or probably won’t remember your consent – it is rape. The other person was in control, but you were not.
If you think you’ve been raped, consider taking these steps:
Call 911 or go to the hospital right away.
Ask the hospital to take a urine sample to test for date rape drugs. You will also need tests for sexually transmitted infections and emergency contraception to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
Don’t pick up or clean up the area where the assault happened.
Don’t take a shower or wash. Officials may be able to collect evidence against the person who hurt you.
Talk to an advocate or counselor.
Harassment and Stalking
Harassment is any unwelcome behavior or comments by another person. It is also defined as unwanted pressure or intimidation. Harassment may be sexual but is not always. I’m going to use a personal example here.
I was married to an abusive man. He was very subtle and passive-aggressive, and it didn’t even become apparent I was being abused until I asked for a divorce and he became more aggressive that I recognized the subtle insults and signs of gaslighting that had always been present. This is why I started this ministry. I will tell my story in a later post.
But he obtained custody of my children through harassment, intimidation, and passive-aggressive threats. I am now fighting to regain custody, and I am still fighting against his harassment. But some examples:
He has come to my home (at my mother’s at the time) and isolated me in the garage to say hurtful things and yell at me. I finally had to stop face-to-face communication with him without another person present, and eventually all face-to-face communication.
He and his father regularly drive by my home (now and when I was at my mother’s) to see who is at my home – specifically boyfriend-wise.
I am alienated as a parent, and he uses my children as pawns against me as a means to try and intimidate or control me.
If someone does something you don’t want to control or pressure you into something, this is harassment. Period. Holding power and control over you is abuse.
Stalking is defined as repeated contact to make you feel afraid or harassed. Stalking is unwanted and/or repeated surveillance by an individual or group toward another person. If someone sits outside your home for any period to watch or surveil you and that behavior is unwanted, it is stalking. This also includes cyberstalking.
According to womenshealth.gov, stalking includes:
- Following you around or spying on you
- Sending you unwanted emails or letters
- Calling you often
- Showing up uninvited at your house, school, or work
- Leaving you unwanted gifts
- Damaging your home, car, or other property
- Threatening you, your family, or pets with violence
- Sending unwanted, frightening, or obscene emails, text messages, or instant messages (IMs)
- Harassing or threatening you on social media
- Tracking your computer and internet use
- Using technology such as GPS to track where you are
Legal abuse refers to unfair or improper legal action initiated with selfish or malicious intentions. Abuse can originate from nearly any part of the legal system, including frivolous and vexatious litigants, abuses by law enforcement, incompetent, careless, or corrupt attorneys, and misconduct from the judiciary itself.
Filing a frivolous lawsuit or being stubbornly litigious (refusing to negotiate in good faith) is a form of legal abuse.
Financial abuse is when one partner takes control of the finances to prevent the other from leaving and to maintain control in the relationship.
This can present in the forms of “getting an allowance,” not being allowed to work or open a bank account and having no access to financial accounts.
Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence, domestic abuse, dating violence, spousal abuse, and intimate partner abuse) is any form of maltreatment that takes place in a heterosexual or homosexual romantic relationship between adults or adolescents. – medicinenet.com
Domestic violence or abuse is any form of abuse inside of a dating or romantic relationship.
Abuse presents in many forms. But if someone is hurting you physically or verbally, doing something unwanted or even illegal to “bother you,” or you’ve told them no and they still do something – it is abuse.