Abusive Behaviours

There are many ways an abuser abuses.  Abusers seek to gain power and control over another person or person. It can often start off small, with lots of different events that gradually chip away or erode confidence. Survivors have said domestic abuse makes you feel that you are losing your “sense of self” and that you can’t trust your own judgement or feel you don’t have the right to make decisions. 

Below are some examples of abusive behaviours  

Physical Abuse 

  • Hitting 
  • Slapping 
  • Punching 
  • Throwing/smashing objects 
  • Shoving 
  • Kicking 
  • Burning / scalding  
  • Choking 
  • Biting 
  • Using weapons and other objects to cause injury 

Financial Abuse 

  • Requiring every penny of the household or other funds is accounted for 
  • Withholding/taking money 
  • Imposing an impossible ‘budget’ 
  • Taking money/controlling access to money 
  • Having unknown accounts 
  • Undermining efforts to find work/study or refusing to allow work/study 
  • Making the survivor beg for money 
  • Taking out loans and/ or mounting debts in survivors name 

Emotional Abuse 

  • Blaming the survivor for their problems 
  • Withholding love and affection as a form of punishment 
  • Name calling  
  • Making the survivor feel worthless or valued insofar as they meet the needs of the abuser  
  • Degrading or demoralising the survivor  
  • Deliberately silencing the survivor 

Psychological abuse 

  • Blame  
  • Intimidation
  • Gaslighting (making the survivor feel like they are going crazy)  
  • Threatening to inflict injury/ harm to self
  • Put downs
  • Denying/minimising the abuse 
  • Threats to harm others (incl. children and pets) 
  • Stalking 
  • Using threatening looks and gestures 

Sexual Abuse 

  • Forcing engagement in sexual activity 
  • Refusing to practice safe sex 
  • Treating the survivor like a sex object
  • Demanding sex 
  • Criticising/discounting feelings regarding sex 
  • Making the survivor wear clothes they haven’t chosen 
  • Sexual name-calling 

Spotting the Signs

In the context of intimate relationships abusers are rarely abusive in the early stages. Healthy excitement at a new potential partner is good. However, here are some early warning signs that a relationship may be/become abusive:  

  • Relationship often very quickly becomes intense and fast paced. 
  • Early, premature commitment. 
  • Abusive partner tries to “take over” their partners life, for example by offering to solve problems.
  • Abusers often try to disable their partner through the support that they offer, stepping into the decision making process and encouraging reliance on them very early on.