The Five Forms of Domestic Abuse

Abusive behaviour is often used in a relationship to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.

These behaviours can take on a number of different forms. Many people think of abuse as physical violence. Physical force is one means of power and control but it is often not the first one an abuser will use.

Below are five of the most recognized forms of abuse.


Inflicting or attempting to inflict physical injury

Example: grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, biting, arm-twisting, kicking, punching, hitting with blunt objects, stabbing, shooting.

​Withholding access to resources necessary to maintain health example: medication, medical care, wheelchair, food or fluids, sleep, hygienic assistance Forcing alcohol or other drug use.


Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent.

Example: marital rape, acquaintance rape, forced sex after physical beating, attacks on the sexual parts of the body, forced prostitution, fondling, sodomy, sex with others.

​Attempting to undermine the victim' sexuality.
Example: treating him/her in a sexually derogatory manner, criticizing sexual performance and desirability, accusations of infidelity, with holding sex.


Instilling or attempting to instill fear.

Example: intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, victim, and/or others, threatening to harm and/or kidnap children, menacing, blackmail, harassment, destruction of pets and property, mind games, stalking.

​Isolating or attempting to isolate victim from friends, family, school, and/or work example: withholding access to phone and/or transportation, undermining victim's personal relationships, harassing others, constant "checking up,” constant accompaniment, use of unfounded accusations, forced imprisonment.


Undermining or attempting to undermine victim sense of worth.

Example: constant criticism, belittling victim's abilities and competency, name-calling, insults, put-downs, silent treatment, manipulating victim's feelings and emotions to induce guilt, subverting a partner's relationship with the children, repeatedly making and breaking promises.


Making or attempting to make the victim financially dependent.

Example: maintaining total control over financial resources including victim's earned income or resources received through public assistance or social security, withholding money and/or access to money, forbidding attendance at school, forbidding employment, on-the-job harassment, requiring accountability and justification for all money spent, forced welfare fraud, withholding information about family running up bills for which the victim is responsible for payment.