Understanding The Different Types Of Abuse

Shelter Movers Waterloo Region has launched a new series called “What Is…” to explore different topics and gain a deeper understanding of our community. Our first topic is ‘Different Types of Abuse.’

Abuse can be described as a pattern of behaviour used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another. There are five major types of abuse: physical, psychological, financial, sexual, and verbal.

Physical Abuse

Often when we hear the term ‘abuse,’ we think of the physical types of abuse. Physical abuse is the disregard of personal boundaries and individual autonomy. This type of abuse can include punching or kicking, and consists of any actions that jeopardize someone’s physical safety.

Psychological Abuse

Psychological/emotional abuse is intentionally and regularly using non-verbal actions that are harmful, manipulative, and frightening towards another person. Psychological abuse can influence and distort an individual’s thoughts and opinions. This form of abuse is very prevalent and is often challenging to identify. Some examples of psychological abuse include intimidation, false accusations, guilt-tripping, and lying.

Financial Abuse

Financial or economic abuse can be described as the exploitation of another individual for their money or property. Specifically, this form of abuse will use any means necessary to maintain power and control. Often, abuse that includes finances is one of the reasons survivors have difficulty leaving abusive relationships. This type of abuse can consist of withholding money, not paying a fair share of the bills, taking money, and forging documents.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse can be categorized as physical abuse, but it has distinctive differences. Sexual abuse is any form of nonconsensual sexual behaviour to another person. This includes rape, revenge porn, and sexual assault. It can also involve using sex as a power mechanism, such as assigning value to a partner based on sex. Sex is both emotional and culturally significant; thus, weaponizing sex is a manipulation tactic.

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is significantly misunderstood; often survivors are unable to realize the severity of verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is the mistreatment of another person expressed through words. It is often downplayed since it is not physically dangerous, yet verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. This type of abuse is difficult to spot by friends or family members, and can diminish a person’s self-worth. Some examples include threats, belittling, degradation, and manipulation.

Crisis Lines

Need to talk to someone? These hotlines provide confidential support:

Kitchener/Waterloo: 519-742-5894

Cambridge: 519-653-2422

Assaulted Women’s Helpline Crisis Line: 855-745-2616

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