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Domestic Abuse

Different types, red flags, and resources you should know about.

With the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard defamation trial making waves all over the internet, more people are talking about domestic violence than ever. While we are not going to comment on the trial or the parties involved, we do want to take this moment to talk about a serious problem in our society. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. The statistics on domestic violence in the United States are truly staggering.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience some form of intimate partner abuse, including physical abuse, sexual abuse, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. One in three women and one in four men have experienced some sort of physical violence by an intimate partner, and intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes. For those who are fans of police procedural shows or true crime, you know that in most cases, the first place police will look when someone is killed is at their intimate partner. That’s because 72% of all murders/suicides involve an intimate partner.

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical Violence

This is probably the most recognizable form of domestic violence and what most people think of when they hear those words. Physical abuse is defined as any physically aggressive behavior preventing physical needs from being met, indirect physical violence, or threats of physical abuse. This may include (but is not limited to) the following behaviors:

  • Pushing, kicking, slapping, punching

  • Pulling or ripping out hair

  • Strangling

  • Biting

  • Spitting

  • Throwing objects at or near partner

  • Threatening partner with weapons

  • Refusing medical care or controlling medication

  • Coercing partner into substance abuse

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is a form of abuse where the perpetrator controls the victim by limiting access to economic resources. Some ways that this happens are:

  • Controlling income and not allowing (or severely restricting) access to finances

  • Spending money for essential bills (food, housing, etc.) on nonessential purchases (hobbies, drugs, alcohol, etc.).

  • Not allowing their partner to work to earn their own income

  • Damaging their partner’s credit score intentionally

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is often difficult for intimate partners to discuss and identify. It comes in many different forms, such as:

  • Sabotaging birth control methods

  • Using force, coercion, guilt, or manipulation to get their partner to perform sexual acts against their wishes

  • Exploiting their partner when they cannot make a conscious decision about sexual activity, such as being drugged, sleeping, being disabled, or being dependent on or afraid of the perpetrator.

  • Making non-consensual contact with their partner

  • Making fun of their partner's body, sexuality, or sexual preferences

  • Using sexually derogatory name-calling

  • Withholding sex as a way to control the victim

  • Extreme jealousy, which can include accusations of infidelity


Isolation is the act of keeping someone isolated as a form of control. Abusers keep the victim from seeing, talking to, or contacting other people in their life. They actively work to put distance between the victim and other family and friends so that the only person the victim has any true contact with is the abuser. This type of abuse is meant to prevent the victim from having a viable avenue for escape from the relationship.

Verbal/Emotional Abuse

Verbal and Emotional abuse, while different, do share some common behaviors, which include:

  • Insults

  • Making threats

  • Accusations

  • Gas Lighting

  • Consistently disregarding the victim's needs or requests

  • Attacking the victim's self-esteem through actions, words, or gestures

  • Yelling/screaming

  • Refusing to talk in order to manipulate

Red Flags

In most abusive relationships, the signs of potential abuse can start showing up relatively early on in the relationship. These signs are what we call red flags. Often people notice these red flags and either ignore them or don’t realize that this behavior makes them feel uncomfortable because it is a marker for potential abuse. Some red flags you should be aware of to prevent future abuse in your relationships include:

  • Idolization- When someone expresses extreme over-the-top feelings that feel overwhelming very early in the relationship

  • Possessiveness- Expecting you to spend all of your time and attention on them and saying things like “we only need each other.” They act jealously and attempt to place a wedge between you and your family/friends.

  • Manipulation- When someone tries to control you. They expect you to constantly check in with them or tell them where you are, they try to tell you how you should dress, and they try to keep you isolated from others or control where you go and who you talk to.

  • Shifting Blame- When they make a mistake, they constantly try to blame you or others and refuse to take responsibility for their own actions.

  • Disrespectful- When someone is rude toward others, insensitive, physically or verbally aggressive towards others, or regularly puts others down

  • Belittling- When someone says or does things to make you feel bad about yourself. Name-calling, holding you to unrealistic expectations, downplaying or ignoring your successes, or regularly putting you down and making you feel insecure are all examples of this behavior.

  • Hot and Cold- When someone is incredibly kind, loving, and charming one minute and then distant, cruel, and angry the next.


If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, resources are available to help you get out!

Domestic Violence Hotline- 800-799-7233

Text “Start” to 88788

Visit for tips for creating a plan for safety, finding local resources, and getting help.

Local Resources

Hope Alliance- This is a women’s shelter in Round Rock, Texas, that seeks to help victims of domestic violence with a safe place to stay, counseling, support groups, legal advocacy, court accompaniment, and basic needs to help them get back on their feet after experiencing domestic or sexual violence. They have their own 24-hour crisis hotline you can call at 800-460-7233. There are tons of great resources available to you to help you get away from a dangerous situation and find your way to freedom and safety.


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