Types of Abuse

Abuse can take many forms. Some types are more subtle than others and might never be seen or felt by anyone other than the battered woman. The abuser uses a combination of tactics that work to control the victim.

There are four types of abuse:


  • Scratches, bites, grabs or spits at her
  • Shakes, shoves, pushes, restrains or throws her
  • Twists, slaps, punches, strangles or burns the victim
  • Throws objects at her
  • Subjects her to reckless driving
  • Locks her in or out of the house
  • Refuses to help when she is sick, injured or pregnant or withholds medication and treatment
  • Withholds food as punishment
  • Abuses her at mealtime, which disrupts eating patterns and can result in malnutrition
  • Abuses her at night, which disrupts sleeping patterns and can result in sleep deprivation
  • Attacks her with weapons or kills her.


  • Is jealously angry and assumes she will have sex with anyone
  • Withholds sex and affection as punishment
  • Calls her sexual names like “whore”, “frigid”
  • Pressures her to have sex when she doesn’t want to
  • Insists that she dress in a more sexual way than she wants
  • Coerces sex by manipulation or threats
  • Physically forces sex or is sexually violent
  • Coerces her into sexual acts that she is uncomfortable with, such as sex with a third party, physically painful sex, sexual activity she finds offensive or degrading.


  • Breaks promises, doesn’t follow through on agreements or doesn’t take fair share of responsibility
  • Verbally attacks and humiliates her in private or public
  • Attacks her vulnerabilities such as her language abilities, educational level, skills as a parent, religious and cultural beliefs, or physical appearance
  • Plays mind games, such as when he denies requests he has made previously or when he undercuts her sense of reality.
  • Ignores her feelings
  • Ridicules or insults women as a group
  • Withholds approval, appreciation or affection as punishment
  • Regularly threatens to leave or tells her to leave
  • Harasses her about affairs he imagines her to be having
  • Stalks her
  • Always claims to be right
  • Unfaithful after committing to monogamy
  • Threatens to kidnap children if she leaves
  • Threatens to harm pets if she leaves
  • Threatens to harm others or himself if she leaves


  • Controls all the money
  • Doesn’t let her work outside the home or sabotages her attempts to work or go to school
  • Refuses to work and makes her support the family
  • Ruins her credit rating