Physically and verbally abusive

Types of Abuse - The Hotline

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Relationship abuse is a pattern of behaviors used to gain or maintain power and control over a partner, which can manifest in a number of ways, and there’s usually more than one form of abusive behavior occurring in an abusive relationship.

Understanding the various ways that abuse appears and intersects can prepare you to respond to situations safely for yourself and others.

Physical abuse

You may be experiencing physical abuse if your partner has or repeatedly does any of the following abusive behaviors:
  • Pull your hair or punch, slap, kick, bite, choke, or smother you.
  • Forbid or prevent you from eating or sleeping.
  • Use weapons against you, including firearms, knives, bats, or mace.
  • Prevent you from contacting emergency services, including medical attention or law enforcement.
  • Harm your children or pets.
  • Drive recklessly or dangerously with you in the car or abandon you in unfamiliar places.
  • Force you to use drugs or alcohol, especially if you have a history of substance abuse.
  • Trapping you in your home or preventing you from leaving.
  • Throw objects at you.
  • Prevent you from taking prescribed medication or deny you necessary medical treatment.

Emotional and verbal abuse

You may be in an emotionally- or verbally-abusive relationship if your partner attempts to exert control by:
  • Calling you names, insulting you, or constantly criticizing you.
  • Acting jealous or possessive or refusing to trust you
  • Isolating you from family, friends, or other people in your life.
  • Monitoring your activities with or without your knowledge, including demanding to know where you go, who you contact, and how you spend your time.
  • Attempting to control what you wear, including clothes, makeup, or hairstyles.
  • Humiliating you in any way, especially in front of others.
  • Gaslighting you by pretending not to understand or refusing to listen to you; questioning your recollection of facts, events, or sources; trivializing your needs or feelings; or denying previous statements or promises.
  • Threatening you, your children, your family, or your pets (with or without weapons).
  • Damaging your belongings, including throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.
  • Blaming you for their abusive behaviors.
  • Accusing you of cheating, or cheating themselves and blaming you for their actions.
  • Cheating on you to intentionally hurt you and threatening to cheat again to suggest that they’re “better” than you.
  • Telling you that you’re lucky to be with them or that you’ll never find someone better.

Sexual abuse

You may be experiencing sexual abuse if your partner has or repeatedly does any of the following:
  • Force you to dress in a sexual way you’re uncomfortable with.
  • Insult you in sexual ways or call you explicit names.
  • Force or manipulate you into having sex or performing sexual acts, especially when you’re sick, tired, or physically injured from their abuse.
  • Choke you or restrain you during sex without your consent.
  • Hold you down during sex without your consent.
  • Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
  • Involve other people in your sexual activities against your will.
  • Ignore your feelings regarding sex.
  • Force you to watch or make pornography.
  • Intentionally give you or attempt to give you a sexually transmitted infection.

Sexual coercion

Examples of sexually coercive behavior include:
  • Implying that you owe them something sexually in exchange for previous actions, gifts, or consent.
  • Giving you drugs or alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions.
  • Using your relationship status as leverage, including by demanding sex as a way to “prove your love” or by threatening to cheat or leave.
  • Reacting with sadness, anger, or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something, or trying to normalize their sexual demands by saying that they “need” it.
  • Continuing to pressure you after you say no or intimidating you into fearing what will happen if you say no.

Sexual coercion lies on the continuum of sexually aggressive behavior, and it may vary in practice from begging and persuasion to forced sexual contact. It may be verbal and emotional through statements made to pressure, guilt, or shame, or it may appear more subtly. Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to perform sexual acts against your will, making you feel obligated to do them at all is coercion in itself.

Being in a relationship—no matter what the arrangement—never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.

Reproductive coercion

Examples of reproductive coercion include:
  • Refusing to use a condom or other types of birth control.
  • Breaking or removing a condom before or during sex, or refusing to pull out.
  • Lying about methods of birth control (i.e. having a vasectomy or being on the pill).
  • Removing birth control methods like rings, IUDs, or contraceptive patches, or sabotaging methods by poking holes in condoms or tampering with pills.
  • Withholding money to purchase birth control.
  • Monitoring your menstrual cycles to inform their abuse.
  • Forcing pregnancy or not supporting your decisions about when or if to have children.
  • Intentionally becoming pregnant against your wishes.
  • Forcing you to get an abortion or preventing you from getting one.
  • Threatening you or acting violent if you don’t agree to end or continue a pregnancy.
  • Keeping you pregnant by getting you pregnant again shortly after you have a child.

Reproductive coercion is a form of power and control where one partner strips another of the ability to control their own reproductive system. It can be difficult to identify this form of coercion — it’s often less visible than other types of abuse occurring at the same time and may appear as pressure, guilt, or shame about having or wanting children (or not having or wanting them).

Financial abuse

This abuse can take many forms and may include:
  • Providing an allowance and closely monitoring how you spend it, including demanding receipts for purchases.
  • Depositing your paycheck into an account you can’t access.
  • Preventing you from viewing or accessing bank accounts.
  • Preventing you from working, limiting the hours that you can work, getting you fired, or forcing you to work certain types of jobs.
  • Maxing out your credit cards without permission, not paying credit card bills, or otherwise harming your credit score.
  • Stealing money from you, your family, or your friends.
  • Withdrawing money from children’s savings accounts without your permission.
  • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household.
  • Forcing you to provide them with your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns.
  • Refusing to provide money for necessary or shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, medical care, or medicine.

Financial or economic abuse occurs when an abusive partner extends their power and control into your financial situation.

Digital abuse

Examples of digitally abusive behavior include:
  • Telling you who you can or can’t follow, or be friends with on social media.
  • Sending you negative, insulting, or threatening messages or emails.
  • Using social media to track your activities.
  • Insulting or humiliating you in their posts online, including posting unflattering photos or videos.
  • Sending, requesting, or pressuring you to send unwanted explicit photos or videos, sexts, or otherwise compromising messages.
  • Stealing or insisting on being given your account passwords.
  • Constantly texting you or making you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you’ll anger them.
  • Looking through your phone or checking up on your pictures, texts, and phone records.
  • Using any kind of technology (such as spyware or GPS in a car or phone) to monitor your activities.
  • Using smart home technology, smart speakers, or security cameras to track your movements, communications, and activities.
  • Creating fake social media profiles in your name and image, or using your phone or email to send messages to others pretending to be you, as a way to embarrass or isolate you.

Digital abuse is the use of technology and the Internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner. This behavior is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse conducted online.

Digital abuse comes with its own unique concerns and stipulations to consider.

  • You never have to share your passwords with anyone.
  • You never have to send any explicit pictures, videos, or messages that you’re uncomfortable sending (“sexting”).
  • Sexting can have legal consequences: nude photos or videos of someone under the age of 18 could be considered child pornography, which is illegal to own or distribute.
  • It’s okay to turn off your phone or not respond to messages right away. You have the right to your own privacy. (Be sure that the people who might need to reach you in an emergency still have a way to.)
  • Save or document threatening messages, photos, vidoes, or voicemails as evidence of abuse.
  • Don’t answer calls from unknown or blocked numbers; your abuser may try calling you from another line if they suspect that you’re avoiding them. Find out if your phone company allows you to block numbers (and how many if so).
  • Once you share a post or message, it’s no longer under your control. Abusive partners may save or forward anything you share, so be careful sending content you wouldn’t want others to see.
  • Know and understand your privacy settings. Social media platforms allow users to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These settings are often customizable and may be found in the privacy section of the website. Keep in mind that some apps may require you to change your privacy settings in order to use them.
  • Be mindful when checking-in places online, either by sharing your location in a post or by posting a photo with distinguishable backgrounds.
  • Ask your friends to always seek permission from you before posting content that could compromise your privacy. Do the same for them.
  • Avoid contact with your abuser in any capacity, through any technology, online or in person. Consider changing your phone number if the abuse and harassment don’t stop.


Common examples of stalking include:
  • Showing up at your home or workplace unannounced or uninvited.
  • Sending you unwanted texts, messages, letters, emails, or voicemails.
  • Leaving you unwanted items, gifts, or flowers.
  • Calling you and hanging up repeatedly or making unwanted phone calls to you, your employer, a professor, or a loved one.
  • Using social media or technology to track your activities.
  • Spreading rumors about you online or in person.
  • Manipulating other people to investigate your life, including using someone else’s social media account to look at your profile or befriending your friends in order to get information about you.
  • Waiting around at places you spend time.
  • Damaging your home, car, or other property.
  • Hiring a private investigator to follow or find you as a way of knowing your location or movements.

Stalking occurs when someone watches, follows, or harasses you repeatedly, making you feel afraid or unsafe, and may occur from someone you know, a past partner, or a stranger.

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What Is Verbal Abuse? 22 Examples, Patterns to Watch For, What to


Abuse comes in many forms, not all of which are physical. When someone repeatedly uses words to demean, frighten, or control someone, it’s considered verbal abuse.

You’re likely to hear about verbal abuse in the context of a romantic relationship or a parent-child relationship. But it can also occur in other family relationships, socially, or on the job.

Verbal and emotional abuse takes a toll. It can sometimes escalate into physical abuse, too.

If you’re being verbally abused, know that it’s not your fault. Continue reading to learn more, including how to recognize it and what you can do next.

We all get into arguments from time to time. Sometimes we lose our cool and yell. It’s all part of being human. But verbal abuse isn’t normal.

The trouble is, when you’re involved in a verbally abusive relationship, it can wear you down and seem normal to you.

Here are some examples of what normal disagreements look like:

  • They don’t dissolve into name-calling or personal attacks.
  • They don’t happen every day.
  • Arguments revolve around a basic issue. They aren’t character assassinations.
  • You listen and try to understand the other’s position, even when you’re angry.
  • One of you may yell or say something truly awful out of frustration, but it’s an unusual occurrence and you work through it together.
  • Even if you can’t agree completely, you’re able to compromise or move on without punishments or threats.
  • Arguments aren’t a zero-sum game: One person won’t win at the detriment of the other.

Consider it a red flag when the other person engages in these behaviors:

  • They insult or attempt to humiliate you. Then they accuse you of being overly sensitive or say that it was a joke and you have no sense of humor.
  • They frequently yell or scream at you.
  • Arguments take you by surprise, but you get blamed for starting them.
  • The initial disagreement sets off a string of accusations and dredging up of unrelated issues to put you on the defense.
  • They try to make you feel guilty and position themselves as the victim.
  • They save their hurtful behaviors for when you’re alone but act completely different when others are around.
  • They get into your personal space or block you from moving away.
  • They hit the wall, pound their fists, or throw things.
  • They want credit for not having hit you.

Whether it’s a romantic relationship, a parent-child relationship, or the bully on the playground, name-calling is unhealthy. Sometimes obvious, sometimes disguised as “pet names” or “teasing,” habitual name-calling is a method of belittling you.

For example:

  • “You don’t get it, sweetie, because you’re just too dumb.”
  • “It’s no wonder everyone says you’re a jerk.”

Condescension is another attempt to belittle you. The abuser’s comments can be sarcastic, disdainful, and patronizing. It’s all to make themselves feel superior.

For example:

  • “Let me see if I can put this in simple terms that even you can understand.”
  • “I’m sure you put a lot of effort into your makeup, but go wash it off before someone sees you.”

There’s nothing wrong with constructive criticism. But in a verbally abusive relationship, it’s particularly harsh and persistent in an attempt to chip away at your self-esteem.

For example:

  • “You’re always upset about something, always playing the victim. That’s why nobody likes you.”
  • “You screwed up again. Can’t you do anything right?”

Abusers want you to feel bad about yourself. They employ humiliation and shame to degrade you and eat away at your confidence.

For example:

  • “Before I came along you were nothing. Without me you’ll be nothing again.”
  • “I mean, look at yourself. Who else would want you?”

Manipulation is an attempt to make you do something without making it a direct order. Make no mistake about it: It’s meant to control you and keep you off-balance.

For example:

  • “If you do that, it proves you don’t care about your family and everyone will know it.”
  • “You’d do this for me if you really loved me.”

We’re all at fault for something once in a while. But a verbally abusive person blames you for their behavior. They want you to believe that you bring verbal abuse on yourself.

For example:

  • “I hate getting into fights, but you make me so mad!”
  • “I have to yell, because you’re so unreasonable and thickheaded!”

If someone is repeatedly accusing you of things, they may be jealous or envious. Or perhaps they’re the one guilty of that behavior. Either way, it can make you question whether you’re doing something inappropriate.

For example:

  • “I saw the way you looked at them. You can’t tell me there’s nothing going on there.”
  • “Why won’t you give me your cell phone if you’ve got nothing to hide?”

Refusing to talk to you, look you in the eye, or even be in the same room with you is meant to make you work harder to get their attention.

For example:

  • At a friend’s house, you say or do something they don’t like. Without a word, they storm out and sit in the car, leaving you to explain and say goodbye to your hosts.
  • They know you need to communicate about who’s picking up the kids, but they refuse to answer your calls or texts.

Gaslighting is a systematic effort to make you question your own version of events. It can make you apologize for things that aren’t your fault. It can also make you more dependent on the abuser.

For example:

  • You recall an event, agreement, or argument and the abuser denies that it happened at all. They may tell you it’s all in your mind, you dreamed it, or are making it up.
  • They tell other people that you’re forgetful or have emotional problems to solidify the illusion.

It isn’t unusual for two people to disagree or argue about the same thing more than once until they find common ground. But abusers will reignite that old argument again and again just to push your buttons, never intending to meet in the middle.

For example:

  • Your job requires you to put in overtime without notice. Every time it happens, the argument about your tardiness starts anew.
  • You’ve made it clear that you’re not ready for kids, but your partner brings it up every month.

Outright threats can mean that verbal abuse will escalate. They’re meant to frighten you into compliance.

For example:

  • “When you come home tonight, you might find a ‘for sale’ sign on the lawn, and I might just be gone with the kids.
  • “If you do that, no one would blame me for how I’d react.”

If you think you’re experiencing verbal abuse, trust your instincts. Keep in mind there’s a chance it will eventually escalate. Now that you recognize it, you have to decide how you’re going to do something about it.

There’s no single answer for what to do. A lot depends on your individual circumstances.

Reasoning with an abuser is tempting, but unlikely to work. Remember, you’re not responsible for someone else’s behavior.

But you can set boundaries. Start refusing to engage in unreasonable arguments. Let them know you’ll no longer respond to or overlook verbal abuse.

Limit your exposure to the abuser as much as possible. If you travel in the same social circles, you might have to make some difficult decisions. If you can’t avoid the person altogether, try to keep it down to situations where there are other people around.

Then, when you’re ready, cut all ties if you can. Breaking things off with your abuser can be complicated in some situations, like if you live with them, have children together, or are dependent on them in some way.

You may find it helpful to speak with a counselor or join a support group. Sometimes an outsider’s perspective can help you see things in a new light and figure out what to do next.

Healing takes time, but it’s important not to isolate yourself. Reach out to supportive friends and family members. If you’re in school, talk to a teacher or guidance counselor. If you think it will help, find a therapist who can help you in your recovery.

If you need guidance on how to separate from your abuser or if you fear escalation, here are a few resources that will provide support:

  • Break the Cycle: Supporting young people ages 12 to 24 to build healthy relationships and create an abuse-free culture.
  • Educational information, hotline, and searchable database of programs and services near you.
  • Love Is Respect (National Dating Abuse Hotline): Offers young people a chance to chat online, call, or text with advocates.
  • National Domestic Abuse Hotline (800-799-7233): 24/7 hotline with access to service providers and shelters across the United States.

Once you’re out of a verbally abusive situation, it’s often easier to see it for what it was.

How to competently respond to insults in order to stop the conflict in the bud?

Contents of the article

In everyday life, we often come across negative statements addressed to us. Most people are confused by insults, they do not know how to properly respond to unpleasant words and at the same time save their face. Let's look at effective strategies to help fight back an abuser.

1. To insult in return

The first reaction to unpleasant words is to insult in return. This option is possible, but if the answer is appropriate, that is, it will be witty and defuse the whole situation. If you don’t know how to choose the right words right away, and it occurs to you to insult your interlocutor in response, then this is not the best way out. So you will only show that the words really hurt you, and the quarrel will not stop. nine0003

2. Make a joke about the situation

A witty answer in the first option will unsettle the person. A joking answer, sarcasm will help defuse the situation, make fun of the opponent and turn the audience over to your side. Ridiculously answering, you seem to take the position of the weak. In this way, you will mislead the interlocutor. For example, if a colleague says that you gave a terrible presentation. Then thank him in return and say that you will definitely think about it tomorrow.

3. Accept criticism

Sometimes people close to you or your boss criticize you for your work and don't even think of insulting you. Such words are worth accepting and thinking about what you did wrong. Accepting criticism only makes us better and stronger. If the words were too offensive, think about what caused such a reaction in a person. Perhaps you provoked it with your actions.

4. Reveal the hidden goal and answer it

Any person, insulting another, pursues a certain intention. Reveal the person's intention in your answer. For example, to rude words or a mate, answer “Apparently, I annoyed you with something, since you treat me like that.” With the help of a polite response, you can find out the real reason for the negative behavior of the opponent. nine0003

5. Remain calm

If a stranger or colleague insults you for no reason, then most likely they are trying to hide their insecurity, boring and monotonous life with a negative reaction. In such a situation, you should not take words personally, but it is better to remain calm. Continue to apply the past strategy by asking the person the real reason for the behavior.

6. Ignore insults

Sometimes ignoring negativity works better than a cool and smart response. So you show that you are not interested in the offender, and even more so his senseless insults. If nasty things have been written to you on social networks, then it’s even easier here, you can simply not respond to messages or delete an unpleasant comment. nine0003

It is important to remember that no one has the right to belittle your dignity and reputation. Protect yourself from negative people, keep calm. It was part of effective conflict management tactics. You can find even more useful information in the Conflict Management online course. If you want to learn how to beautifully and appropriately respond to negativity, then this course is for you.

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