Domestic violence isn’t always visible. There may be no outward signs of abuse, no visits to the ER—but violence can still be occurring. It’s important for victims of domestic violence to understand that just because someone doesn’t leave a bruise, it doesn’t mean abuse didn’t occur.
According to WEAVE, a crisis intervention service for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in California, there are five different types of domestic violence. Their common denominator: all types of abuse are used to assert control and power over their victim.
Physical abuse. This is the use of physical force against another person to inflict injury, or to put the person at risk of becoming injured. This may include your partner pushing, hitting, choking you, or threatening you with a weapon.
Sexual abuse. This abuse often occurs in tandem with physical abuse. It involves forcing or coercing a victim to do something sexually, which can range from unwanted kissing or touching to rape. This can also involve threatening someone to perform a sexual act, including oral sex; restricting a victim’s access to birth control and condoms; or repeatedly using sexual insults to demean a victim.
Emotional abuse. Emotional abuse is almost like brain washing in that it is done to wear away at a victim’s self-confidence. It can be verbal abuse; such as your partner repeatedly criticizing, intimidating or belittling you. It can also be nonverbal abuse or coercive control; when your partner asserts control and tries to demean you by making decisions on your behalf. This can include anything from what you should wear to who your friends should be.
Financial abuse. This type of abuse involves stealing or withholding money from the victim, or using the victim’s name and personal information to accrue debt. The victim may feel financially dependent on their partner, or as though they are being forced to support their partner financially. See comprehensive list of types of financial abuse.
Spiritual abuse. Also referred to as religious abuse, this involves a partner not allowing you to practice your moral or religious beliefs. It can include humiliation or harassment as a means of control, forcing a victim up their culture or values that are important to them. Spiritual abuse can be used by religious leaders to instill fear or guilt into a victim, coercing them to behave a certain way.
If you recognize any of these types of abuse, you should seek help from a domestic violence counselor, hotline or shelter immediately.