People often assume physical violence when they hear about abuse, but that is not always the case. Abuse is a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another. It is a misuse of power that makes victims vulnerable. These behaviours which include physical violence, takes many forms. The following list provides some information about the different forms of abuse that have been identified.



  • Verbal abuse
  • Put downs
  • Constant criticism
  • Shifting blame
  • Erratic mood changes
  • Guilt tripping
  • Judgmental behaviors
  • Humiliation
  • Undermining your intelligence
  • Withholding or refusal to give affection or attention, including talking to you, looking at you, or being in the same room as you
  • Gaslighting when your emotions, words, and experiences are twisted and used against you, causing you to question your reality
  • Emotional abandonment

Physical Violence

  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, breaking bones
  • Shooting or use of other weapons
  • Spitting
  • Locking out of one’s home
  • Abandoning in an unsafe place
  • Murder


  • Limiting or denying partner access to or the opportunity to keep friends, social contacts and outside interests
  • Using jealousy to justify actions
  • Making family contact difficult
  • Manufacturing situations in attempts to isolate you
  • Controlling what partner sees or reads
  • Divide and conquer tactics by provoking jealousies and rivalries
  • Being rude, dismissive and critical of your visitors
  • Having to get permission to complete daily tasks or attend to personal needs


  • Threats to hurt or kill children, pets, friends
  • Destruction of property
  • Controlling partners talk
  • Making partner account for every minute & every action
  • Threats to hurt anyone who helps
  • Threats to prove partner is an unfit parent
  • Threats of suicide and controlling with fear

Financial/ Economic Abuse

  • Allowing partner no money of their own or no opportunity to improving earning capacity
  • Forcing partner to hand over every penny whether or not they have an income
  • Running debts in partner’s name
  • Taking partners money and forcing partner to account for every penny
  • Withholding financial information and limiting access to family income

Sexual Abuse

  • Forced unwanted sex
  • Demanding that partner wear provocative clothing
  • Forced sex with objects, friends, animals
  • Insisting that partner act out pornographic fantasies
  • Denial of partner’s sexuality

Using Children

  • Threatening to take children away
  • Using children to relay messages
  • Limiting visitations as a form of punishment
  • Using visitations to harass the other parent
  • Bad-mouthing the other parent in front of the children

Using Coercion and Threats

  • Making and/or carrying out threats to do something to hurt partner
  • Threatening to leave relationship, commit suicide, call children services
  • Making partner drop charges
  • Making partner do illegal things
  • Not taking concerns seriously
  • Making light of the abuse
  • Denying that abuse or bullying did not happen
  • Blaming the other party for abusive behaviour or bullying


  • Using aspects of partner’s particular cultural identity to inflict suffering or as means of control
  • Breaking down partner’s belief system (cultural, spiritual or religious)
  • Using racial slurs
  • Threatening to “out” someone as LGBTQ2S+ if their friends of family don’t know
  • Speaking a different language that you do not understand as a means of exclusion

Strangulation (Non-Lethal)

  • Strangulation is the condition where circulation of blood is cut off by constriction. Strangulation is a type of asphyxia—which is severe deprivation of oxygen to body tissue. The term choking and strangulation are used interchangeably.  Unconsciousness may occur within seconds and death within minutes. It is imperative that victims of strangulation seek immediate medical attention at the emergency hospital.

Stalking and Surveillance

Domestic and family violence behaviors that involve a perpetrator following, harassing or monitoring the victim are forms of stalking or surveillance designed to deprive the victim of privacy, autonomy and a sense of safety. 

These abusive behaviours may occur while the perpetrators and victim are in an intimate relationship, or they may commence or intensify upon separation. 

Criminal harassment, also known as stalking, is a crime. It usually consists of repeated conduct that is carried out over a period of time and causes you to fear for your safety or the safety of someone known to you. 

Stalking does not have to result in physical injury in order to make it a crime. It is enough if the conduct scares you. It may be a warning of future acts of violence.

Digital Abuse

Digital abuse is the use of technologies like texting and social media to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a partner. This behavior is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse conducted online.

Coercive Control

A pattern of abusive behaviours used to control or dominate a family member or intimate partner. It involves repeated acts of humiliation, intimidation, isolation, exploitation and/or manipulation, frequently accompanied by acts of physical or sexual coercion. Rather than one single incident of violence, this abuse is characterised by the ongoing manner in which it removes the victim’s rights and liberties, entrapping them in the relationship, and causing distinct emotional, psychological, economic and physical harms (Chambers, 2021).

Spiritual/Religious Abuse

This includes controlling another person’s religious choices and beliefs as well as using religious beliefs to rationalize control over another person. Regardless of religious affiliation, spiritual abuse can happen to anyone at any age. In the context of domestic violence, spiritual abuse may include a partner:

Using religion to justify control and anger

Claiming they have spiritual authority or power over you

Forcing you into a subordinate role, using religion as the justification

Manipulating religious teachings for control and power

Preventing you from practicing your religion

Shaming or mocking you for your religious views and practices

Forcing you to adhere to a religion you don’t believe in

Forcing you to do things against your own religion

Justifying physical or emotional violence as being part of a religion, or religious text

Forcing you to raise children according to their religious beliefs

Forcing you to attend religious places of worship, or organized events

Not allowing you to see friends who don’t share their religious beliefs

Using your religious beliefs to isolate you from community 

Stopping a partner from divorcing or leaving a relationship, by saying “it’s against the religion”.