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Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can occur in many different forms. Regardless of whether it is physical, emotional or takes some other form, abuse often follows an escalating pattern in which the aggravating behaviors worsen over time.

Physical Abuse

The abuser's physical attack or aggressive behavior can range from bruising to murder. It often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts that escalate into more frequent and serious attacks.

Examples include:

  • hitting, slapping, punching, kicking
  • burning
  • strangulation
  • damaging valuable/personal property or throwing objects at a victim
  • refusing medical care or hiding medications belonging to a victim
  • pressuring or forcing a partner to use substances (e.g. drugs, alcohol)
  • use of weapons, including improvised objects (e.g. a lamp or string)


Emotional Abuse

The abuser's psychological or mental violence can include anything that impacts the mental health and well being of their partner.

Examples include:

  • name calling, insults, put downs
  • crazy making, blaming the victim for everything
  • jealousy, unfounded accusations of cheating
  • intimidation
  • shaming, humiliation
  • socially isolating the victim from friends and family
  • getting angry if a victim does not immediately return calls
  • needing to know where the victim is at all times
  • following the victim without their knowledge
  • stalking


Sexual Abuse

Physical attacks by the abuser is often accompanied by, or culminates in, sexual violence wherein the survivor is forced to have sexual intercourse with the abuser or take part in unwanted sexual activity.

Examples include:

  • forcing a partner to perform sexual acts against their will, including having sex with other people, imitate pornography
  • pursuing sexual activity when the victim is not fully conscious, is not asked, or is afraid to say no
  • hurting their partner physically during sex or assaulting genitals
  • coercing a partner to have sex without protection against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases


Technological Abuse

This form of abuse includes the use of technology to control and stalk a partner. This type of abuse can happen to people of all ages, but it is more common among teenagers, who use technology and social networking sites to interact in a manner often unmonitored by adults.

Examples include:

  • hacking into a victim's email and personal accounts
  • putting tracking devices into a victim's cell phone so that the abuser knows his/her location at all times
  • manipulation of social networks and violation of information privacy
  • recording or filming the victim's conversations with other people without their consent or knowledge

Click here to learn how to protect yourself from technological abuse (provided by the National Network to End Domestic Violence).


Financial Abuse

Any behavior that maintains power and control over finances constitutes financial abuse.

Examples include:

  • causing a partner to lose their job through direct and indirect means, including:
  • punching the victim and knocking them out
  • causing visible bruising or injury that prevent the victim from going out in public
  • showing up and harassing the victim at work
  • causing the victim to be late to work by starting a fight just before they need to get there
  • withholding transportation
  • ruining a partner's work clothing
  • controlling financial assets and effectively putting the victim on an allowance
  • damaging a partner's credit score


Abuse by Immigration Status

There are specific tactics of abuse that some abusers use against their immigrant partner.

These tactics include: holding or destroying immigration papers, not letting partner learn English, threatening to hurt partner’s family in home country, threatening to call immigration authorities, etc.

It is important to remember that in the US, even undocumented immigrants have rights, and that, in case of an emergency, contacting the police should be a priority.

If you have more questions about resources for immigrants victims of domestic violence, you can contact:


Any of the above behaviors may be used to control or exert power over a partner, and they may be part of a larger cycle of violence and reconciliation.

Contact Info

For media inquiries, please contact:

Katie Young Wildes
215-386-1280 x116
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).