Question: “I wish I had understood more about the other kinds of abuse. I thought the only thing truly considered abuse was if you were hit. What other kinds are there?”
I was a psych major in college. I have half of my Master’s in Social Work. I worked at a social service agency for eighteen months out of college as the good touch/bad touch lady. And when someone talked about abuse in a marriage situation, I always thought of only three kinds: physical (getting hit), sexual (being raped), or emotional (being yelled at or maybe called names).
I liken it to the analogy of a frog who starts off in lukewarm water but because the water is heated so slowly, he doesn’t even realize he’s being boiled to death. Sometimes, you’re just too close to the situation to know what you’re dealing with. (Which is why it’s so important to get outside help.)
This is a list of some of the various kinds of abuse that can appear in a relationship.
Emotional/Psychological: Put-downs. Name-calling. Mind games. Mental coercion. Conditional affection. Dishonesty. Broken promises.
Threats: Threats to end relationship. Threats to do harm. Threats to life, to take the children, commit suicide, to report to the authorities.
Economic: Restrictions on employment. Making the abused ask for money. Giving the abused an allowance and taking any money the abused earns. Requirement to account for every penny spent while shopping.
Intimidation: Use of looks, actions, gestures, loud voice or cursing to generate fear. Continual arguing. Abused required to say what abuser wants to hear.
Property Violence: Punching walls, throwing things, destroying property. Breaking down doors, destroying personal property of the abused. Abuse of pets.
Passive/Aggressive: Use of silence as a weapon. Refuses to engage in problem solving, communication or intimacy.
Isolation: Controls what is done, who is seen, who is talked to. Limits or listens in on calls. Sabotages car. Restriction of outside interests. Frequent moves. Restricts access to mail. Deprived of friends.
Use of Children: Use of children to give messages. Use of visitation rights as a way to harass. Use of child support as leverage. Influencing children to side with abuser and/or pressure abused.
Humiliation: Hostile humor. Public humiliation and criticism. Denigrating appearance, parenting skills, housekeeping skills, cooking, and so on.
Responsibility: Making abused responsible for everything in life (bills, parenting, and so on). Making abused responsible for abuser’s feelings and behavior.
Spiritual: Use of scripture and words like “submission” and “obey” to dominate and control.
Sexual: Demanding unwanted or bizarre sexual acts. Physical attacks to sexual parts of the body. Treatment of the abused as a sex object. Interruption of sleep for sex. Forced sex.
Use of Male Privilege: Treatment of the abused like a servant. Unilateral decision-making. Expecting more privileges and having fewer responsibilities.
Physical: Beating, biting, choking, grabbing, hitting, kicking, pinching, pulling hair, punching, restraining, scratching, shaking, shoving, slapping, spanking, smothering, tripping.
Deprivation: Denial of basic rights. Deprivation of private or personal life. Controlling food, water, sleep. Denies access to medical care.
Stalking: Spying, following to activities (store, church, work, and so on). Extreme jealousy. Frequent calling. Sending unwanted presents or notes.
If you or your children are in physical danger, you need to remove yourself from the situation as soon as possible and tell someone. And if any of these on this list sound like the relationship you’re in, it’s time you get help and figure out what to do. This is not what God intended for anyone, including your potential abuser. Help can be found.
Nat’l Abuse Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out my coaching options and my e-book, “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.
Wow….I didn’t realize all of that was considered abuse. But, what if you don’t know how to get out? Or feel as if you can’t?
Please read this post: http://elisabethcorcoran.blogspot.com/2012/08/when-you-cant-do-it-on-your-own-anymore.html.
Pray for help and then there are steps you can take to reach out and find the help you need.
This is very helpful Elisabeth. Some of these I had no idea of like responsibility. My husband had me do all the budgeting, bills, shopping, taxes ….everything. And he would never let me talk to him about it. Then when I left he told me I had to teach him how to pay the bills!! Also there were times when I would wake up to him groping me and it was hard to get him to stop. The next day he always said he didn’t remember.
And what’s so sad is that there are so many people that believe unless it’s a black eye it’s not abuse. Reading that list there were things that happened in my marriage that I wasn’t sure what to call them but I knew they were not right. Thank you for the clarification and most importantly, the validation that I wasn’t crazy to think those things were just wrong.
Thanks Elisabeth for listing this so we can see it so clearly. I knew things were not right in my marriage but I honestly had no idea I was being abused in so many ways. There is only one of the categories that I did not experience on a regular basis. How I wish I had known that I did not have to live like that year after year and that living with that kind of abuse was not what God expected of me.
I am praying God blesses you and continues to give you the strength and courage to keep helping women in troubled marriages or in the throes of divorce. Thank you.
Thank you, Elisabeth for this entry. I’m finally free from him since a year ago…he was an everything but the black eyes kind of abuser. Since he was not physically violent, I was able to somewhat plan our escape and get my ducks in a row. Lack of confidence and fear of what he could do to make my and my children’s lives terrible and difficult is what kept me married to him all those years. But, I planned well enough that I finally had the confidence to tell him it was over. And, I stuck to my guns that time. I reached a point in my confidence-high that I feared nothing during our divorce. I knew my planning was solid, and there was nothing that could shake that feeling. It’s over, and our lives are better (not worse or more difficult like I had originally thought)!
You get used to that kind of man over the years, and it becomes comfortable. You learn how to manipulate and submit so the abuser won’t “need” to abuse. After a couple years, you really get the hang of it, and things go smoothly for a couple more years. You’re oppressed, but you’ve got babies to nurse and diapers to change and dinner to cook, so you push your feelings aside because you’re too busy. You’re isolated so much for those years that you begin to think this relationship dynamic is kinda normal. Until one day you realize it’s not, and you rise up, you disagree, you tell him no, you stand up for yourself and you cause waves because you’re so sick of the injustice and you weep seeing your sons’ personalities growing to emulate the abuser. At that moment of realization, something happens. For some women, the heart breaks. For me, something snapped, and strength I never knew I had came from within me. My need to grow my boys into good men that won’t treat their future wives the way I was treated became stronger than the abuser’s abuse.
So began the revolution where the oppressed overthrew and banished the king and became the queen and princes themselves.
An excellent article that summarizes warning signs to look out for in a relationship. You picked up many of the same signs I did in an article I wrote for our website several years ago. Many people don’t understand how abuse snowballs from small things into major things. It doesn’t just **poof** happen one day. It starts out with warning signs and if you are aware of them, you can see what’s coming down the road. Unfortunately, many people are too focused on the good aspects of the relationship to notice those warning signs until it’s too late and all their emotional energies are channeled into that relationship. Thanks for writing this.
(Would there be any way you could darken your text some? It’s really hard to see it on my screen. The gray is way too light and it hurts my eyes to try to read it.)
Thanks for your powerful story, one which I relate to so much, especially the planning. I planned for 6 or 7 years, including making sure we were not in the same state as my ex’s attorney father from Texas.
Can you post a link to your website?
Elisabeth (not Corcoran)
Thank you for sharing. I have had all of this except for me paying any of the bills and everything was put in his name. I was not allowed to get the mail out of the mailbox or even look at the mail. He opened all my mail and if a check was in it he would put for “deposit it only” and put it in his account. The only times which was most of the time, he would be mean to me was around people who would join him in being mean to me. When we were alone he was mean to me like I was his slave and treated me like I was no better than the garbage. His family, friends and even people I thought were my friends would watch me all the time and all of them would join in on the abuse. Bullying, degrading, having men come to beat me up and curse at me, tripping me and saying it was my fault, throwing snakes on me, belittling me in every way a person could think of. I was punished by having my car, phone, books taken away so much more. I have been in another state for over 2 years and I was able to file for divorce. How I got out was by my husband getting a po against me and removing me from the home. I have nothing he has everything. About 6 months after I left he said he wish he had not had did it. He was punishing me by having me removed from the home. I had picked up mail off the floor about a week before Christmas and he said I was being nosey. He lied and told the police I tried to kill him. He is a retired sheriff who is trained to kill and 280lbs, 6’2. I am 110lbs and 5’1 and always been a homemaker and then a secretary for 7 yrs. He made out with other women in front of me. He would tell me to kill myself because I was no good and the Lord would not make something like me. Everything according to him was my fault and he was and is a victim. This is just a little bit of my store. This man will kill me, but not with his hands. He will get someone else to do his dirty work for him, just like his cousin, the pastor, that says he don’t run the church, but he makes all the rules and they are always changing just like my husband’s rules. The pastor taught certain family members how to treat ours and they have learned very well. I need to start over after the divorce and I would like a new name and maybe write a book about what I have been through in detail. Just don’t know how to go about the last 2 things. Please keep me in your prayers. Thank you.