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Understanding the Different Types of Abuse

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘women abuse?’ If a loved one tells you that they are being abused, what is the first thing you think they are going through? Most commonly, people will start looking for bruises on the body. Questions like “did he hit you?” are asked. But what if they do not “look” abused? Would you still take the matter seriously?

There are different types of abuse – each carrying their own scars – none more important than the other. In order to understand the behaviour that accompanies it, let’s take a look at the various kinds.


Here are the 6 different types of abuse as outlined by the Reach Beyond Abuse team in 2017.

1. Physical


This type of abuse is the most common type within the country. It can include hitting, kicking, strangling, punching, or physically restraining a partner against their will. Often, when this behaviour starts within a relationship, the perpetrator apologises and says things like ‘I had no idea what I was doing.

I was not thinking straight.’ Whether the person says it was an accident, this abuse should be taken seriously and be treated as though it could happen again.


2. Sexual


Sexual abuse involves rape or other forced sexual acts against the victim’s will and can also involve using sex as a weapon. An abusive partner may use their ‘domineering power’ by ascribing value to sex and using it as a manipulative tool you ‘earn’ or something the victim is merely good enough for. More so, sex can also be used to judge their partner by constantly criticising how bad they are at it in a sneering way, irrespective of whether they are around people or not.


3. Verbal/Emotional


Verbal and emotional abuse are when the perpetrator uses insults to break you down and hurt when you’re alone with them and even when you are in a group setting. It is often said that physical scars may heal, but emotional scars last forever and take even longer to heal. Emotional abuse is sometimes difficult to witness and even harder to prove


4. Mental/Psychological


Mental or psychological abuse occur when a partner uses words or acts in a particular way to mentally tear down the other person or ‘play’ with their mind. Severe cases result in the victim doubting their own sanity. The abuser would do things such as moving an object without the victim’s knowledge and then after that, denying that they had done so. The victim ends up believing that they are insane when they are not.

When this behaviour carries on for an extended period of time, the victim ends up relying on the abuser more frequently because they don’t trust their own judgment.


5. Financial/Economic


Abuse is usually about power and control, therefore, the abuser would want to control everything – what the victim wears, what they eat and how they spend their money. In many cases, the victim would have no access to their income – the abuser would handle drafting a budget, and decides how and when to spend the money, usually to the loss of the victim.

The abuser may also put the victim in debt by forcing them to open credit cards or apply for extra credit, leading them into debt. This leaves the victim in a difficult financial situation, and it can take years for the victim to finally be on their feet again. Some get blacklisted and others never recover.


6. Cultural/Identity


This type of abuse involves manipulation from the abuser – they use aspects of the victim’s culture to inflict suffering, or as a way to control them. Refusing the victim the right to observe certain dietary or dress customs of their faith, being racist towards them or threatening to ‘out’ someone as LGBQ/T if their friends and family don’t know – all of these are examples of cultural abuse. Know the signs. If you or someone you care about is experiencing gender based violence, there are several organisations that can help. Get in touch and #EndDomesticSilence.


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