The definition of an abusive relationship can vary from one person to another. This is why most people who are in an abusive relationship don’t even realize that they are in one. There are different types of abuse and varying levels of violence, which will be addressed in this article.

Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behaviors that one engages to physically, psychologically, and sexually control their partner. These are behaviors that arouse fear, hurt, humiliate, injure, manipulate, or kill a partner. When one partner, typically the male, tries to assert power and control over an intimate partner, it can be considered as intimate partner violence (IPV). This usually spirals out of control and worsens as time goes by. This often occurs when a partner has personality disorders, particularly antisocial and borderline conduct disorders. Five main types of IPV include sexual violence, physical violence, stalking, psychological aggression, and control of reproductive and sexual health. As a result of this type of violence, victims can experience negative consequences, including injury, fear, emotional distress, substance abuse, depression, and also post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), all of which can potentially lead to death.

Different Types of Domestic Abuse

Physical abuse, psychological abuse, and sexual abuse are the most common types of domestic violence. Physical abuse is undoubtedly the type of domestic violence that is easiest to detect. Some common behaviors of physical abuse are slapping, pushing, choking, burning, kicking, among others. Other forms of physical abuse that victims experience include being threatened verbally or with a weapon, trapped in a home, abandoned in a dangerous or an unfamiliar place, and prevented from calling for help.

Another common type of domestic violence is psychological abuse, which can also be accompanied by physical and sexual abuse. Just like other types of violence, psychological abuse is all about having control over an intimate partner. If your partner has been trying to control you through intimidation, isolation, minimization, children, restriction of economic resources, coercion, or threats time and time again, then you may be a victim of psychological abuse. Other common forms of psychological abuse include being stalked, humiliated, treated like an object, belittled, criticized, called disparaging names, isolated from friends and family, made to feel guilty about socializing, restricted from communicating with others, forced into illegal activity, among others.

Effects of Abuse on Victims

It is not uncommon for victims to go through more than one type of domestic violence. In fact, men who physically abuse their partner often engage in other forms of abuse as well, particularly emotional abuse and sexual abuse. Victims who went through multiple types of violence are found to have suffered more severe trauma than those who experienced ongoing incidents of a single type of violence. It has also been found that victims who experienced the combination of physical, psychological, and sexual abuse suffered the most from depressive and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.

Getting the Help You Need

If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect that a friend is in one, it is very important that you understand the severity of the issue. For example, if you think that the abuse you are going through is minor and inconsistent, you may be able to talk with your partner and work things out among yourselves. However, if the abuse is more severe and has been going on repeatedly, then you should try to seek help immediately. You can discreetly arrange a meeting with a counselor, contact a domestic violence hotline, or seek any external help that can help you cope with the abuse and get out of the relationship before the damage becomes permanent.

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