Emotional and Physical Abuse

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse always accompanies, and in most cases precedes, physical battering. Targeted, repeated emotional abuse can severely affect the victim’s sense of self and of reality. Here is a list of emotionally abusive behaviors abusers use against their
partners:

  • Abuser makes hostile jokes about the habits and faults of women
  • Ignores the victim’s feelings
  • Withholds approval as a form of punishment
  • Yells at the victim
  • Labels the victim with generally insulting terms: crazy, bitch, stupid
  • Repeatedly delivers a series of insults specific to the victim and designed to inflict
    maximum psychological damage
  • Repeatedly humiliates the victim in front of family members and others
  • Isolates the victim socially, perhaps geographically as well (for example, by moving the family to a remote location)
  • Blames the victim for all the abuser’s troubles and failures
  • Threatens physical violence and retaliation against the victim, children or other family members
  • Puts down the victim’s abilities as a mother, lover, worker, etc.
  • Demands all the victim’s attention and resents the children
  • Tells the victim about his sexual affairs
  • Constantly accuses her of having affairs, even when she does not have the desire or freedom to have affairs
  • Gives the victim the “silent treatment”
  • Threatens to abuse the children and/or get custody of them
  • Tells the victim he must stay with her because she needs him and couldn’t make it
    without him
  • Accuses the victim of being violent if she acts in any way to protect herself
  • Questions her sense of reality
  • Forces economic dependency: He prevents the victim from working – either by forbidding her to get a job or by making her life so chaotic that she gets fired – and/or he takes her money
  • Puts down or denies the victim’s history, heritage, faith, values
  • Hits the wall, not her, to display his power
  • Breaks personal items that have sentimental value to her as a message that he can
    break her too
  • Threatens, tortures or kills her/their pets
  • Threatens suicide if the victim doesn’t stay with him or do what he wants
  • Spends hours cleaning guns or knives in front of the victim
  • Threatens to kill her or her children
  • Destroys victim’s self esteem

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse may begin in a physically nonviolent way; that is, with neglect, which can
include not allowing her access to basic needs (food, shelter, hygiene items); not allowing her to sleep; or withholding physical intimacy as a way to control her. When the abuse moves into overt violence, he may begin with assaults such as painful pinching or squeezing. As the abuser escalates, he becomes more violent and his violence becomes targeted; that is, directed to a part of the body, such as the torso, where the injuries are less likely to show. When the abuser believes he will not be held accountable for his behaviors, he may inflict visible injuries. The following is a list of physically abusive
behaviors:

  • Pinching and/or squeezing in a painful way
  • Pushing, shoving or restraining
  • Jerking, pulling, shaking or hair pulling
  • Slapping or biting
  • Targeted hitting, kicking, etc. so that injuries do not show.

The abuser’s actions here are evidence that he is not “out of control” when he batters.
Instead he is using violence to control and exert power over the victim.

  • Strangling the victim
  • Throwing objects at the victim
  • Abuses the children sexually, physically, and/or emotionally
  • Sustained series of hitting or kicking blows, visible injuries
  • Physical abuse that requires medical treatment
  • Abuser deprives the victim of sleep, food, medicine, other essentials
  • Throwing the victim
  • Causing broken bones and/or internal injuries
  • Causing miscarriage or injuries that require a therapeutic abortion
  • Using objects at hand, such as household utensils, as weapons
  • Denying the victim medical treatment
  • Using weapons such as a gun or knife
  • Causing permanently disabling and/or disfiguring injuries
  • Murder