Abuse is defined as any behavior that results in the mistreatment of another person. Abuse includes a range of behaviors that can be subtle to very obvious. Six major types of abuse are:

  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Social
  • Spiritual
  • Financial


The following lists of examples of abuse are not all inclusive. You may have experienced some of them, but there may be other abuses that you have endured that are not included on the lists. For example, bullying is a form of abuse that shows up in numerous ways and often begins in childhood. As you move through the lists, take time to think about ways that abuse has affected you in your lifetime. Reflection will give you insights into your current and future situations.

Examples of Physical Abuse

  1. Destroying belongings
  2. Pushing or shoving you
  3. Throwing objects at you
  4. Hitting or slapping you
  5. Punching, or kicking you
  6. Strangling or throwing you
  7. Threatening you with weapons
  8. Breaking your bones or causing internal injuries
  9. Causing a miscarriage
  10. Denying you medical treatment
  11. Depriving you of food, shelter, money or clothing
  12. Inflicting permanent damage or disfigurement
  13. Abandoning you away from home
  14. Spitting on you
  15. Hair pulling or biting you
  16. Urinating on you
  17. Locking you in a closet
  18. Putting your life in danger by reckless behavior
  19. Hurting your animals

Examples of Emotional Abuse

  1. Ignoring you and your feelings
  2. Insulting you repeatedly
  3. Yelling at you
  4. Telling you that you will fail
  5. Blaming you for everything that happens
  6. Accusing you of being violent when you try to protect yourself
  7. Accusing you of cheating
  8. Threatening to abuse the children/or take them away
  9. Threatening to hurt your pets
  10. Calling you names, such as crazy, stupid, bitch, ugly, whore, etc.
  11. Holding back approval as punishment
  12. Making fun of you
  13. Giving you “looks” to keep you in place and threaten
  14. Holding back affection as punishment

Examples of Social Abuse

  1. Insulting you publicly
  2. Checking up on you
  3. Following you—stalking behavior
  4. Taping conversations without your knowledge
  5. Demanding all your attention in public
  6. Passive aggressive put-downs in front of others
  7. Threatening to hurt your family or friends
  8. Isolating you from family and friends
  9. Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  10. Threatening you with deportation or turning you in to authorities
  11. Threatening you with CPS
  12. Not allowing you to obtain necessary documents, such as driver’s license, passport, etc.
  13. Making fun of you in front of others

Examples of Sexual Abuse

  1. Forcing you to participate in pornography
  2. Forcing you to have sex with others
  3. Forcing you to watch pornography
  4. Strangling or slapping, and other unwanted behaviors during sex
  5. Inflicting harm or mutilation to your genitals
  6. Unwanted BDSM
  7. Withholding affection as punishment
  8. Talking about you as a sexual object
  9. Beating you before, during, or after sex

Examples of Spiritual Abuse

  1. Discounting your sense of right and wrong
  2. Denying your value as a person
  3. Denying, minimizing or ridiculing your spiritual beliefs
  4. Forcing you to convert to a belief system
  5. Using scripture as a way to control you
  6. Using any form of doctrine, a church teaching, a cult rules, or any set of religious rules to enforce punishment
  7. Punishing your children according to church teachings
  8. Questioning your motives, values, and dreams

Examples of Financial Abuse

  1. Spending money without meeting obligations
  2. Demanding, and or spending, your paycheck
  3. Blaming you for financial problems
  4. Denying you access to your money and/or credit cards
  5. Controlling all the financial decision-making
  6. Hiding money
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Last modified: July 3, 2019

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