Abuse can take many forms: physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, economic, stalking, and tech, digital, and social media abuse. All of these types of abuse may appear differently, but they share one definitive, common thread: none are okay.
Below are descriptions and examples of each type of abuse. If you are experiencing any of these types of abuse, call Day One to talk about your experiences. Advocates in the Day One network can help you develop a safety plan and give you options for leaving your partner or for getting support and counseling for yourself or for your children.
Physical, violent relationships tend to worsen over time. It might start with a shove or an object being thrown across the room; it can soon escalate to bruises, burns, cuts, and broken bones.
Physical abuse includes violent, direct physical abuse on someone, but it can also be using physical movements and space around someone as threats.
Has your partner done any of the following?
- Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.)
- Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked, or choked you
- Hit or poked you with another object
- Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place
- Scared you by driving recklessly
- Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you
- Forced you to leave your home
- Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving
- Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention
- Hurt your children and or pets
- Committed rape
The signs of verbal abuse can depend on how often it occurs, the tone of voice, and attitude of your partner.
Verbal abuse can be as powerfully destructive as physical abuse and can be much more difficult to identify.
Are you experiencing some of the following common displays of verbal abuse?
- Criticism. You’re never good enough. Harsh, persistent, and ongoing.
- Sarcasm. Cutting, biting tone and attitude.
- Put-downs. Repeated insults and attacks.
- Shaming. Disgust, you are bad/wrong “What’s the matter with you?” or “What were you thinking?”
- Name-calling. Disguises insults as pet names, swearing, or bullying.
- Threats. Harm to you, the children, your family, or your pets
Over time, verbal abuse can make you feel insecure and doubt your self-worth. Verbal abuse tends to get worse over time. The longer you stay in this type of relationship, the more intense the violence will likely become. You’ve done nothing wrong. You have the right to a healthier relationship.
Emotional abuse, like brainwashing, can be subtle and you may not even know it is happening.
Emotional or mental abuse is more obvious when your partner yells or swears using emotional bullying. Not so obvious emotional abuse can include your partner giving you the “silent treatment” to control you or denying things they’ve said to you or things they have done to you. If you hear, “I don’t know what you are talking about,” and “I never said that,” these are warning signs that your partner might be emotionally abusing you.
You may be a victim of emotional abuse if your partner:
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive
- Is always right and puts you down in a way that makes you doubt yourself
- Isolates you from family or friends
- “Takes over” your friendships
- Monitors where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with
- Punishes you by withholding affection or giving you the “silent treatment”
- Expects you to ask permission for all you spend or do
- Humiliates or embarrasses you in front of others
- Makes you feel controlled, isolated, intimidated, or exhausted
Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity forced on another person.
The person uses force, threats, or takes advantage of someone unable to give consent to sexual acts.
Does your partner match any of the following descriptions of a sexual abuser?
- Views women/men as objects and believes in rigid gender roles
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
- Held you down against your will during sex
- Demanded sex when you were sick, tired, or after beating you
- Hurt or humiliated you with weapons or unwanted objects during sex
- Involved other people in sexual activities with you
- Ignored your feelings regarding sex
- Refused to use protection or practice safe sex with you
- Caused pain on purpose during sex or sexual acts
- Committed rape against you
- Used physical force in sexual situations or did something you didn’t want them to do
Medical Exams – If you have been physically hurt, injured, or raped and need medical attention or choose to have a medical exam, please click here.
Economic abuse makes it difficult for someone to leave their relationship if they have no job, no money, or their credit score is ruined.
Sometimes partners use economic tactics to intentionally keep you from leaving a dangerous or unhealthy relationship by gaining control over money and finances. They use intimidation and power to keep you dependent on them so that you won’t leave.
Economic abuse is when your partner:
- Forces you to hand over your paychecks
- Puts you on an impossible budget
- Makes you account for every penny you spend
- Keeps you from getting or keeping a job
- Interferes with your job or your school studies
- Uses your credit card or money without your permission or opens accounts in your name and without your knowledge
- Cancels your credit cards or insurance policies without your knowledge
- Doesn’t include your name on your joint bank accounts or joint assets (house, car)
- Controls your access to money or economic resources
- Tries to weaken your ability to support yourself
- Tries to make you financially dependent on them
- Makes it difficult for you to gain financial independence
- Does not treat you like an equal partner in anything money-related
- Controls finances or refuses to share bank information or money
You are being stalked if someone is giving you repeated and unwanted attention, contact, harassment, or other actions that make you feel afraid or unsafe.
A stalker may be someone you know well or not at all. Most have dated or been involved with the people they stalk. Stalking is a serious crime that can escalate over time and stalkers are unpredictable and dangerous. Trust your instincts. If you feel like you’re in danger, you could be right.
No two stalking situations are alike, but you can take steps to increase your safety.
- Call 911 if you are in immediate danger
- Take threats seriously
- Don’t respond
- Change your daily routine
- Tell family, friends, and coworkers and seek support
- Keep evidence and a log of what’s occurring
- Contact the police
- Make a safety plan
Tech, Social Media, and Digital Abuse
Tech, social media, and digital abuse includes any use of technology to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate someone.
Technology, social media, and digital abuse are defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline as the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. Often, this behavior is a form of verbal and emotional abuse perpetrated online.
Has your partner been committing any acts of tech, social media, or digital abuse?
- Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
- Sends you negative, insulting, or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs, or other messages online.
- Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, foursquare, and others to keep constant tabs on you.
- Puts you down in their status updates.
- Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
- Pressures you to send explicit videos.
- Sharing or threatening to share private videos or pictures.
- Steals or insists on being given your passwords.
- Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
- Looks through your phone frequently and checks up on your pictures, texts, and outgoing calls.
Given this type of abuse has changed as technology vastly progresses, resources to protect individuals are still being discovered and developed. Here are a few additional tech abuse resources to consider:
- Safety Net Project – Exploring technology safety in the context of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and violence against women.
- Clinic to End Tech Abuse – This page provides a collection of materials, tools, and resources that we have created to help IPV survivors, support workers, and technologists discover and address tech-related risks.
- Stopncii.org – Stop Non-Consensual Intimate Image Abuse.
Get the Help You Need
If you are experiencing any of these types of abuse, call Day One to talk about your experiences. Advocates in the Day One network can help you develop a safety plan and give you options for leaving for your partner or for getting support and counseling for yourself or for your children.
Call the Minnesota Day One Crisis Line 1-866-223-1111 to speak with an advocate (interpreters are available), text 612-399-9995, or click the CHAT NOW button on this site to connect with a Day One advocate. A Day One advocate is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assist you.
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.