Examples of Domestic Abuse

Physical
Shaking, smacking, punching, kicking, biting, restraining, burning, slapping, spitting, starving, tying up, false imprisonment, stabbing, suffocating, strangulation, throwing things, using objects as weapons. Also includes female genital mutilation and acts in relation to ‘honour based violence’.

Sexual
Forced to watch porn, being made to have sex in ways you are not happy with, forced sex, forced prostitution, ignoring religious prohibitions about sex, refusal to practice safe sex, sexual insults, sexually transmitting diseases, injuries to genitals/breasts.

Psychological
Playing mind games, intimidation, insulting, isolation from friends and family, put downs, criticising, denying the abuse, blaming, treating partner as an inferior, threatening to harm other members of the family or take them away, forced marriage.

Financial
Taking money, not letting you work, undermining efforts to find work or study, refusing to give money, asking for an explanation of how every penny is spent, making partner beg for money, gambling, not paying bills, having loans and debts in the victims name.

Emotional
Swearing, undermining confidence, making racist remarks, making a partner feel unattractive and calling them stupid, ugly, fat, mad or useless.

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviours by the abuser, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger system of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only once or occasionally, they instill threat of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the victim’s life and circumstances.

The Power & Control diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviours, which are used by an abuser to establish and maintain control over his partner. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship (taken from National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence).

 Teen Power and Control Wheel (PDF)

DV - How to Help Your Mates

*Source: Department of Health. Responding to domestic abuse a handbook for health professionals. December 2005. p. 11.