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What Are 7 Forms of Domestic Abuse Besides Physical & Sexual?, Part 2

By: Ashlee Stumpf, LPC

To review from part one of this short blog series, “Domestic abuse…can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner,” ( These relationships include partner, significant other, family member, roommate, or a person in an intimate relationship with someone adjacent to you.

The forms often less discussed than physical or sexual abuse but are still commonplace is abusive relationships. And therefore, should be discussed. Let’s continue.

  1. Isolation

Isolation typically uses the foot-in-the-door technique of manipulating the other person. Meaning it often starts with small requests. “Oh, skip girl’s night. Stay with me.” “Your friends/family/co-workers don’t like me OR I don’t like them. Do we have to see them today?” “I hate seeing other men/women gawking at you. Can’t you wear something different?”  Which eventually can evolve into controlling who the partner sees, where they go, or what they do. Isolation cuts a person away from the outside world, giving the abusive partner more control. With this form of abuse, the increased demands the partner makes can start to seem normal because there is no one outside of the relationship to question it. Isolation can also be insidious because the abusive spouse may defend their actions with wanting to spend time only with you, of being so in love that they don’t want to share you. Playing on the myth that getting jealous or possessive proves love. It is normal to spend time with your partner and as a result there is less time for friends or family, but when all of your time is being directed to one person it may be time to reflect on the relationship.

  1. Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

One big red flag a person is toxic is the refusal to accept responsibility. People who use this type of domestic abuse are often trying to keep themselves up (feeling superior) and their partner down with as much distance in-between. They do this by never making mistakes, or at least never fully admitting to them. If they do, they minimize it or downplay the situation. “Okay, yes I did yell at you, but it was only once and for just a second.” “You’re overexaggerating. I wasn’t that bad.” “It wasn’t that big of a deal.” The individual says anything to make their actions seem minor and, therefore, excusable.

Sometimes people won’t even admit they committed an abusive act. They will deny it happened or tell their partner they remember it wrong. They don’t make mistakes, only you do, which is why they stay in control.

The last type in this section, blaming involves acknowledging the action took place but it was someone or something else’s fault. They shift responsibility to the work that is difficult, the children who are too loud, the alcohol they drank. Abusive acts happen but it’s somehow never they fault. Sometimes they even try to convince the spouse it’s their fault. “Well if you wouldn’t have…” “I told you I get this way when you…” “I only acted that way because you…” An abusive spouse isn’t accountable for their actions, everyone else is. Highly convenient for them.     

  1. Using Children (Or Pets)

In domestic abusive situations, partners may use kids or pets to make the other partner feel guilty or fearful. This could take the form of making the spouse feel like they have stay in the relationship for the kids (or pets), deliberately talking bad about the other spouse in front of the children, using children to relay messages, using visitation to harass the other spouse, or threatening to take the children (pets) away. In this situation the abusive partner uses the kids as a bargaining chip, not concerned on how the children are affected.

  1. Economic Abuse

It is hard to have control over your life if you must rely on someone else for your finances. Economic abuse allows the abusive partner to control how/if the other partner spends money. This can include not allowing them to get a job, giving their spouse an allowance, making big purchases without consulting the other person, or making their partner show receipts to make sure every dollar is accounted for. This type of abuse makes the non-abusive partner reliant on the abusive spouse. It’s difficult to leave a relationship when you have no way to support yourself or would have to drastically change your lifestyle to make it on your own.

As stated previously, while these types of abuse are less discussed they are no less common in abusive relationships. If we are to decrease the domestic abuse in the world, we need to educate ourselves on the types of abusive, prevention, and how to support the survivors.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse of any kind, please get help.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

(800) 799-7233

Available 24/7 

City of Chicago Domestic Violence Help Line

(877) 863-6338

Available 24/7

Several of the counselors at Symmetry, including myself, have experience helping victims and survivors of domestic violence. Please reach out and seek help. The hardest part is often making the call, but it is worth it. There is help.


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