Experiencing even one or two of these in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be present. Remember, each type of abuse is serious and no one deserves to experience any form of it.
Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy. Examples of physical abuse include:
- Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking.
- Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate.
- Pushing or pulling you.
- Grabbing your clothing.
- Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon.
- Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act.
- Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.
Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking. There are many behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse, including:
- Calling you names and putting you down.
- Yelling and screaming at you.
- Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
- Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
- Telling you what to do and wear.
- Damaging your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
- Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you.
- Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior.
- Accusing you of cheating and often being jealous of your outside relationships.
- Stalking you.
- Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
- Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
- Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
- Threatening to have your children taken away.
Financial abuse can be very subtle. It can include telling you what you can and cannot buy or requiring you to share control of your bank accounts. At no point does someone you are in a relationship have the right to use money or how you spend it to control you. Here are some examples of financially abusive behaviors:
- Giving you an allowance and closely watching what you buy.
- Placing your paycheck in their account and denying you access to it.
- Keeping you from seeing shared bank accounts or records.
- Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours you do.
- Getting you fired by harassing you, your employer or coworkers on the job.
- Using your social security number to obtain bad credit loans without your permission.
- Using your child’s social security number to claim an income tax refund without your permission.
- Maxing out your credit cards without your permission.
- Refusing to give you money, food, rent, medicine or clothing.
- Using their money to hold power over you because they know you are not in the same financial situation as they are.
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.
It is important to know that just because the victim “didn’t say no,” doesn’t mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it doesn’t mean that they consented. Sometimes physically resisting can put a victim at a bigger risk for further physical or sexual abuse. Whether they were intoxicated or felt pressured, intimidated or obligated to act a certain way, sexual assault/abuse is never the victim’s fault.
- Some examples of sexual assault and abuse include:
- Unwanted kissing or touching.
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
- Rape or attempted rape.
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.
- Pressuring or forcing someone to have sex or perform sexual acts.
- Using sexual insults toward someone.
You are being stalked when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe. A stalker can be someone you know, a past partner or a stranger. Some examples of what stalkers may do include:
- Show up at your home or place of work unannounced or uninvited.
- Send you unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails.
- Leave unwanted items, gifts or flowers.
- Constantly call you and hang up.
- Use social networking sites and technology to track you.
- Spread rumors about you via the internet or word of mouth.
- Make unwanted phone calls to you.
- Call your employer.
- Wait at places you hang out.
- Use other people as resources to investigate your life. For example, looking at your Facebook page through someone else’s page or befriending your friends in order to get more information about you.
- Damage your home, car or other property.