Menu

What is an abusive relationship

People in relationships can be abused in several ways. Emotional, physical, and verbal abuse are considered the most common forms of relationship abuse.

Emotionally abusive: Any action or inaction used to control or hurt another person.

Examples include:

  • Controlling access to money
  • Intense jealousy
  • Criticizing a partner's looks
  • Unwanted sexual demands
  • Isolating another from family and friends
  • Making fun of partner
  • Keeping partner up all night
  • Manipulating with lies
  • Threatening separation
  • Having affairs
  • Constant questioning about activities
  • Using alcohol or drugs
  • Accusations of affairs
  • Keeping partner from working or from school
Physically abusive: Any use of size, strength, or presence to hurt or control someone else

Examples include:

  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Biting
  • Grabbing
  • Pinching
  • Kicking
  • Pulling
  • Kneeing
  • Burning
  • Stabbing
  • Slapping
  • Spitting
  • Choking
  • Shooting
  • Spanking
  • Restraining
  • Forcibly carrying
  • Backhanding
  • Pinning against a wall
  • Pushing out of car
  • Punching with a fist
  • Abuse of children
  • Trying to hit with car
  • Forced sex
  • Throwing things
  • Abuse of animals
  • Driving recklessly
  • Twisting arms
  • Tearing clothes
  • Standing or sitting on partner
  • Punching walls or doors
  • Pulling hair
  • Slamming drawers
  • Attacking with an object
  • Breaking things
  • Chasing
  • Unplugging phone
  • Stalking
  • Standing behind car to prevent driving away
  • Taking car keys, credit cards, money, or checkbook
  • Taking children
  • Trapping
  • Clenching fists as a threat
  • Standing in a doorway to prevent exit
  • Any other unwanted physical attack
Verbally abusive: Any use of words used to control or hurt another person

Examples include:

  • Accusations of cheating
  • Calling names
  • Leaving nasty messages
  • Making insinuations
  • Using the silent treatment
  • Sneering
  • Yelling
  • Insults
  • Being sarcastic
  • Growling
  • Making critical statements like "you're dumb," "you're stupid," "you're ugly," or "you can't do anything right"
  • Threats to kill, use violence, or harm
  • Threats to children
These behaviors signal that something is wrong in a relationship!