Types of Violence and Abuse

Violence and abuse are best understood as a pattern of behavior intended to establish power and maintain control over society, family, household members, intimate partners, colleagues or groups. The roots of all forms of violence and abuse are founded in the many types of inequality which continue to exist and grow in our society.

Violence and abuse may occur only once, it can involve various tactics of subtle manipulation or it may occur frequently while escalating over a period of months or years. In any form, violence and abuse profoundly affect individual health and well-being.

Physical Violence
Physical violence occurs when someone uses a part of their body or an object to control your actions. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• pushing
• shoving
• pinning or holding a person down
• confinement
• pinching
• hair-pulling
• slapping
• punching
• arm twisting
• kicking
• biting
• strangling
• choking
• burning
• over-medication
• assault with an object or weapon
• threats with an object or weapon
• stabbing
• murder

Sexual Violence
Sexual violence occurs when someone forces you to take part in sexual activity when you do not want to. Sexual violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• touching you in a sexual manner against your will (i.e. kissing, grabbing, fondling)
• forced sexual intercourse
• forcing you to perform sexual acts you find degrading or painful
• use of a weapon to make you comply with a sexual act
• beating sexual parts of your body
• exhibitionism (need to expose body parts to others)
• denial of a woman’s sexuality
• humiliating, criticizing or trying to control a woman’s sexuality
• denial of sexual information and education
• withholding sexual affection
• exposure to AIDS or other sexually transmitted infections
• forced abortion or sterilization
• forced prostitution
• unfounded allegations of promiscuity and/or infidelity

Emotional Violence
Emotional violence occurs when someone says or does something to make you feel stupid or worthless. Emotional violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• name calling
• constant criticism
• blaming all relationship problems on you
• humiliating or belittling you in front of others
• using silent treatment
• confinement to the home
• not allowing you to have contact with family and friends
• destroying possessions
• threats
• jealousy
• intimidation
• stalking
• threatening to take the children
• threatening to commit suicide.

Psychological Violence
Psychological violence occurs when someone uses threats and causes fear in you to gain control. Psychological violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• threatening to harm you, your children or your family if you leave
• threatening to harm themselves
• threats of violence
• threats of abandonment
• destruction of your personal property
• social isolation from your family and friends
• confinement to the home
• verbal aggression
• constant humiliation, mockery

Spiritual Violence
Spiritual violence occurs when someone uses your religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate, or control you. Spiritual violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• trying to prevent you from practicing your religious or spiritual beliefs;
• making fun of your religious or spiritual beliefs;
• forcing you to raise your children in another religion or spiritual choice; and
• using your religious or spiritual beliefs to manipulate, dominate or control you.

Cultural Violence
Cultural violence occurs when you are harmed as a result of practices condoned by your culture, religion or tradition. Cultural violence includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• female circumcision
• rape-marriage
• sexual slavery
• honour crimes.

Verbal Abuse
Verbal abuse occurs when someone uses language, whether spoken or written, to cause you harm. Verbal abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• constant criticism
• cursing
• mocking
• name calling
• repeated insults
• recalling your past mistakes
• expressing negative expectations
• expressing distrust
• threats of violence against you, your children or other family members
• for immigrants, threats of deportation if you decide to leave.

Financial Abuse
Financial abuse occurs when someone controls your financial resources without your consent. Financial abuse includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• trying to make you financially dependent on your partner
• limiting your access to free resources
• destruction of your personal property
• not allowing you to attend school
• forcing you to work outside the home
• refusing to let you work outside the home
• controlling your choice of occupation
• forbidding you to have access to the family income and bank accounts
• giving you an allowance and requiring justification for all money spent
• taking money needed for the care of the family
• refusal to contribute financially to family
• denying access to basic needs such as food and health care.

Neglect
Neglect occurs when someone has the responsibility to provide care or assistance for you but does not. Neglect includes, but is not limited to, the following:

• not taking responsibitly and care for physical and emotional needs, abandoning the child, not providing enough nutrition, hygiene, emotional coldness
• not paying your bills
• not providing necessary medical care, hygiene, needed medication, food, shelter or clean clothing.