Updated: Aug 17, 2022
Relationship abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner. People may experience one type of abuse or many types of abuse in their relationships. Click the arrow to learn more about each type of abuse.
You may be experiencing physical abuse if your partner has or repeatedly does any of the following abusive behaviors:
Pull your hair or punch, slap, kick, bite, choke, or smother you.
Forbid or prevent you from eating or sleeping.
Use weapons against you, including firearms, knives, bats, or mace.
Prevent you from contacting emergency services, including medical attention or law enforcement.
Harm your children or pets.
Drive recklessly or dangerously with you in the car or abandon you in unfamiliar places.
Force you to use drugs or alcohol, especially if you have a history of substance abuse.
Trapping you in your home or preventing you from leaving. Throw objects at you.
Prevent you from taking prescribed medication or deny you necessary medical treatment.
Emotional and verbal abuse
You may be in an emotionally- or verbally-abusive relationship if your partner attempts to exert control by:
Calling you names, insulting you, or constantly criticizing you.
Acting jealous or possessive or refusing to trust you.
Isolating you from family, friends, or other people in your life.
Monitoring your activities with or without your knowledge, including demanding to know where you go, who you contact, and how you spend your time.
Attempting to control what you wear, including clothes, makeup, or hairstyles.
Humiliating you in any way, especially in front of others.
Gaslighting you by pretending not to understand or refusing to listen to you; questioning your recollection of facts, events, or sources; trivializing your needs or feelings; or denying previous statements or promises.
Threatening you, your children, your family, or your pets (with or without weapons).
Damaging your belongings, including throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.
Blaming you for their abusive behaviors.
Accusing you of cheating, or cheating themselves and blaming you for their actions.
Cheating on you to intentionally hurt you and threatening to cheat again to suggest that they’re “better” than you.
Telling you that you’re lucky to be with them or that you’ll never find someone better.
You may be experiencing sexual abuse if your partner has or repeatedly does any of the following:
Force you to dress in a sexual way you’re uncomfortable with.
Insult you in sexual ways or call you explicit names.
Force or manipulate you into having sex or performing sexual acts, especially when you’re sick, tired, or physically injured from their abuse.
Choke you or restrain you during sex without your consent.
Hold you down during sex without your consent.
Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
Involve other people in your sexual activities against your will.
Ignore your feelings regarding sex.
Force you to watch or make pornography.
Intentionally give you or attempt to give you a sexually transmitted infection.
Examples of sexually coercive behavior include:
Implying that you owe them something sexually in exchange for previous actions, gifts, or consent.
Giving you drugs or alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions.
Using your relationship status as leverage, including by demanding sex as a way to “prove your love” or by threatening to cheat or leave.
Reacting with sadness, anger, or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something, or trying to normalize their sexual demands by saying that they “need” it.
Continuing to pressure you after you say no or intimidating you into fearing what will happen if you say no.
Examples of digitally abusive behavior include:
Telling you who you can or can’t follow, or be friends with on social media.
Sending you negative, insulting, or threatening messages or emails.
Using social media to track your activities.
Insulting or humiliating you in their posts online, including posting unflattering photos or videos.
Sending, requesting, or pressuring you to send unwanted explicit photos or videos, sexts, or otherwise compromising messages.
Stealing or insisting on being given your account passwords.
Constantly texting you or making you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you’ll anger them.
Looking through your phone or checking up on your pictures, texts, and phone records.
Using any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or phone) to monitor your activities.
Using smart home technology, smart speakers, or security cameras to track your movements, communications, and activities.
Creating fake social media profiles in your name and image, or using your phone or email to send messages to others pretending to be you, as a way to embarrass or isolate you.
Common examples of stalking include:
Showing up at your home or workplace unannounced or uninvited.
Sending you unwanted texts, messages, letters, emails, or voicemails.
Leaving you unwanted items, gifts, or flowers.
Calling you and hanging up repeatedly or making unwanted phone calls to you, your employer, a professor, or a loved one.
Using social media or technology to track your activities.
Spreading rumors about you online or in person.
Manipulating other people to investigate your life, including using someone else’s social media account to look at your profile or befriending your friends in order to get information about you.
Waiting around at places you spend time.
Damaging your home, car, or other property.
Hiring a private investigator to follow or find you as a way of knowing your location or movements.
If you have experienced, witnessed, or caused any of these types of abuse we are here to help. For free, confidential, non-judgmental support call or text 888-606-4673.