Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, can come in many different forms. At the root of all forms of abuse, however, is the need for the abusive partner to keep power and control over the victim.

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Domestic violence is prevalent in every community, and affects all people regardless of age, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. Physical violence is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior as part of a much larger, systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death.

Domestic violence is about one person getting and keeping power and control over another person in an intimate relationship. It is a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual, economic, or other forms of abuse to control and change the behavior of the other partner. The abusive person might be your current or former spouse, live-in lover, dating partner, or some other person with whom you have a relationship.

Here are some examples of the different forms of abuse:

Physical Abuse:

Physical abuse in a relationship often starts gradually, such as with a push or a slap, and then becomes progressively worse over time. Physical abuse basically involves a person using physical force against you, which causes, or could cause, you harm. Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc.; denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

Sexual Abuse:

Sexual abuse, sexual assault, rape, and sexual exploitation are all too common in abusive relationships. However, oftentimes, these forms of abuse are the least talked-about. Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape; forcing sex after physical beating; attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner; forcing the victim to perform sexual acts on another person, perform sexual acts via the Internet, or forcing the victim to pose for sexually explicit photographs against his/her will.

Economic / Financial Abuse:

Financial abuse is one form of domestic abuse. Withholding money, stealing money, and restricting the use of finances. Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment.

Emotional Abuse:

Undermining a person’s sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one’s abilities, name calling, damaging a partner’s relationship with the children. An abuser may also use his/her or your HIV-positive status or sexual orientation as a means to control you. For example, an abuser may threaten to reveal your HIV status or your sexual identity.

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Psychological Abuse:

Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to himself/herself, you, your family member, or your children; destruction of pets and property; stalking you or cyberstalking you, playing “mind games” to make you doubt your sanity (gaslighting); forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work; humiliating you; and demeaning you.

Even when there is no physical violence, abusive language can be very damaging to you and your children. Emotional and psychological abuse are include mostly non-physical behaviors that the abuser uses to control, isolate, or frighten you. Often, the abuser uses it to break down your self-esteem and self-worth in order to create a psychological dependency on him/her.

Emotional and psychological abuse are hard forms of abuse to recognize because the abuse is spread throughout your everyday interactions. Unlike physical abuse, there are often no isolated incidents or clear physical evidence to reference.

Sexual coercion and reproductive control:

Reproductive abuse is when a person tries to control your reproductive choices in order to control your life. Reproductive abuse is also often called “reproductive coercion.” Coercion is when a person tries to persuade someone to do something by using force or threats. When a partner sabotages your birth control efforts by demanding unprotected sex, lying about “pulling out,” hiding or destroying birth control (i.e., flushing pills down the toilet or poking a hole in a condom), preventing you from getting an abortion or forcing you to get an abortion.

Litigation Abuse:

Once someone separates from an abusive spouse/partner, the abuser may try to keep power and control over the victim by misusing the court system against the victim. For example, filing repeated petitions or motions, requesting many adjournments, appealing the judge’s orders without a legal basis to do so, or taking other actions that make the victim repeatedly come to court. Sometimes this type of behavior is called “litigation abuse.”

Unfortunately, litigation abuse is challenging to deal with because it is hard to limit someone’s right to file in court. If you are facing litigation abuse, you may want to try proving to the judge that the cases the abuser keeps bringing are not based on a good reason (without merit) and are filed instead to harass you.

Cultural and Identity Abuse:

Threatening to “out” your sexual orientation or gender identity, your participation in S & M or polyamory, your HIV status, your immigration status, or any other personal information to family, friends, co-workers, landlords, law enforcement, etc. Using your race, class, age, immigration status, religion, size, physical ability, language, and/or ethnicity against you in some way.


Stalking is a term used to define a type of harassment. It refers to persistent and unwanted attention directed at or towards a victim by another person that makes the victim feel pestered and harassed and causes alarm or distress or fear that violence might be used. Stalking often continues for a long period of time, making the victim constantly anxious and afraid.

Social media and the internet can be used for stalking and harassment. This is known as ‘cyber-stalking’ or online threats and this form of harassment can also cause alarm and distress. Stalking involves a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that causes fear. It can be carried out in a number of ways, many of which involve technology and online spaces.

While stalking/cyberstalking can be committed by someone you don’t know, it is most often a crime perpetrated by someone with whom you are familiar.


Harassment refers to a person acting in a manner that causes a person to fear harm. Harm refers to any mental, psychological, physical or economic harm. A victim may become ill, both mentally and physically, due to the harassment. Harassing conduct can lead to increased stress, insomnia, anxiety and depression, poor concentration and can affect self-confidence and self-respect. Sexual harassment is unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. The conduct is such that it violates the dignity of the complainant or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

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Sexual and gender-based violence is one of the greatest humanitarian challenges today. It takes various forms and occurs in diverse situations and contexts across the world. Intimate partner violence is one of the most common types of GBV, with assaults, threats, neglect and rape occurring within the homes and other places where women should be safe. Gender-Based Violence leaves deep wounds on survivors, families and communities. It is a widespread problem with serious emotional and social consequences.

The devastating consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.


Please consider making a donation to Silent Rights to enable us to keep helping victims of abuse and violence. You can make a donation through paypal here.

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