Types of Abuse


According to the National Victimization of College Women (NVCW) survey, one in five women in college is currently involved in an abusive relationship. While most people recognize signs of concern when the dynamics of the relationship turn physically violent, partner abuse takes many forms in the context of an intimate relationship. Rather than focusing on physical abuse, the definition of an abusive relationship focuses on the balance of power between the parties in a relationship. Abusive relationships can occur in heterosexual relationships or same-sex relationships.

An abusive relationship is a relationship characterized by an imbalance of power in which control is maintained by a pattern of coercion and control and characterized by the isolation of one party from outside influences, family or social pressure to maintain the relationship, threats, intimidation, male privilege, and minimization, denial, or blame of the relationship's flaws on one party, which causes the other party to fear or to repress his or her needs and wants in an effort to meet the other person's needs and wants.


For more information Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Brochure

Types of abuse in a relationship

Verbal abuse

·         Put-downs

·         Name-calling

·         Threats

·         Spreading rumors

·         Blaming

·         Yelling

Emotional abuse

·         Isolation from friends & family

·         Intimidation

·         Humiliation

·         Manipulation

·         Suicide threats

·         Jealousy or possessiveness

·         Stalking

Physical abuse

·         Hitting or slapping

·         Shoving

·         Choking

·         Restraint or kidnapping

·         Pinching

Sexual abuse

·         Forced sexual activity & rape

·         Forced pornography

·         Sabotage of birth control

·         Non-consensual touching

Effects of abuse on the victim

An abusive relationship destroys the victim's sense of self and his or her ability to feel confidence in his or her ability to make decisions. Even when abuse or violence in a relationship is not physical, the impact on the victim can be extensive and devastating. The victim in an abusive relationship may:

  • Blame him or herself for the relationship
  • Feel angry, sad, depressed, or confused
  • Feel constantly threatened and humiliated
  • Feel shame for their involvement in the relationship
  • Develop an eating disorder
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol
  • Develop an anxiety disorder
  • Feel isolated and alone
  • Feel helpless and unable to control his or her life

Warning signs of an abusive relationship

If someone is in an abusive relationship, there are often significant signs of behavioral or personality changes in the person being abused. Some warning signs of an abusive relationship are:

  • Withdrawal from friends and activities
  • Absences from class, work, or regular activities
  • Failing grades
  • Dramatic changes in mood or personality
  • Extensive concern about the partner's anger, disapproval, or happiness
  • Visible marks and bruises on the person being abused
  • Emotional outbursts
  • Overreacting to minor incidents
  • Difficulty making decisions without the partner
  • Constantly defending the abuser
  • Changes in dress