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!