Types of Abuse

Written by Ava Mazzye

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is a term used to describe harm or abuse occurring within an intimate relationship. IPV can be perpetuated by both current and former partners, and does not require sexual intimacy. One can experience or perpetrate IPV at any age, although youth aged 18-24 are most likely to experience IPV.

While there are many different ways through which IPV manifests itself, it generally falls into five main categories. Although IPV may look different from case to case, IPV always depends on power and control, and generally involves taking away the victim’s autonomy.

  1. Physical abuse can look like preventing access to an object or a space, as well as pinching, scratching, hitting, scarring, burning, pulling hair, choking or restraining. It can even look like not allowing access to necessary objects, like medicine or food. More about physical abuse can be found here.

  2. Emotional/Mental/Verbal abuse includes the use of manipulation, put-downs, blame shifting and gaslighting. An abuser typically uses manipulation and put-downs by either targeting or creating insecurities for the victim. Blame shifting refers to the classic, “I wouldn’t have hit you if you had listened to me,” where the abuser attempts to make the victim feel at fault for the violence they suffer from. Gaslighting refers to invalidating or obscuring one’s sense of reality, for example, pretending not to remember previous incidents of violence.

  3. Financial abuse involves preventing school or work attendance, or forcing work. It can also look like witholding credit cards, giving allowances, holding debt over someone’s head. Forcing work can bleed into the area of human trafficking. More about financial abuse can be found here.

  4. Technological abuse can look like excessive or unwanted texts or calls, unwanted sexting, going through one’s phone, or controlling one’s social media. It can also involve tracking a partner through apps like Find My iPhone. This type of abuse is most prominent within youth partnerships. More about technological abuse can be found here.

  5. Sexual Abuse involves pressuring or forcing or coercing someone either verbally or physically to engage in sexual acts with the abuser, or someone else. This can bleed into technological abuse, in the form “revenge porn.