While it may seem easy to some to identify different types of abuse it is often harder to do if you’re in the midst of it.  Perpetrators of abuse often structure it so that their victims don’t realize they are being abused or that they blame themselves for what is going on.  I wanted to define and provide examples of the different types of abuse that can occur.  Keep in mind that these don’t necessarily have to occur in the context of a romantic relationship.  They can happen in parent-child relationships, friendships, workplace relationships etc.

1. Physical Abuse

Definition: Physical injury that is inflicted intentionally and is designed to cause pain.
Examples: Hitting, Slapping, Choking, Biting, Throwing (either the people or things at them), Confinement, Sexual Abuse, Rape

2. Verbal Abuse

Definition: Use of oral, gestured or written language directed at a victim
Examples: Name Calling, Swearing, Yelling, Blaming, Shaming, Threats of Harm

3. Emotional Abuse

Definition: Subjecting or exposing another person to a behaviour that may result in psychological trauma
Examples: gaslighting, torture, bullying, acute or prolonged abuses of human rights

4. Financial Abuse

Definition: Control over another person’s access to economic resources
Examples: control of wages, control of bank accounts, critical of spending, providing an allowance (to an adult), financial dependence

Always remember that abuse in any form is a means to create or exploit a power imbalance.  It is not related to loving or caring for the other person, though this is often how the abuse will characterize it.  If you feel that you’re in an abusive relationship please reach out for support.  The best please to start are community resources such as children’s aid, violence against women agencies or your employee assistance program.  If you want more formal support please contact me to book an appointment.


Catherine Sullivan

Catherine Sullivan


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