Domestic violence can occur in many different ways. A common misconception about domestic violence is that if no physical harm has occurred, it is not considered abuse. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, there are five different types of domestic violence: physical, psychological, sexual, economical and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, any instances of abuse go unnoticed merely because they do not leave physical marks on a victim.
Physical abuse is the area of domestic violence that is most prevalent in advocacy and outreach programs because the harm is clear and obvious. Signs of physical abuse include, but are not limited to: bruises, scars, broken bones, and scratches. Physical abuse is treated seriously in domestic violence cases and victims are likely to receive an order of protection against the offender.
Psychological abuse is defined as instilling or attempting to instill fear in another person. Some forms of psychological abuse include: intimidation, threatening physical harm to oneself, the victim, or others, threatening to harm or kidnap children, blackmail, harassment, threatening to damage property, and stalking. Many actions fall within the scope of psychological abuse and even though the victim is suffering internally, this type of abuse can be harder to prove in a court of law, as the effects of psychological abuse may not be as outwardly apparent as the effects of physical abuse
Another form of domestic violence is sexual abuse. Like all other forms of domestic violence sexual offenders target both adults and children. Sexual abuse is both actual coercion and the attempt to coerce sexual contact from the victim without their consent . Sexual abuse often occurs in the following ways: when an offender acts in a sexually derogatory manner, rape, sodomy, forced prostitution, criticizing sexual performance, withholding sex, or fondling.
Economic abuse occurs when the abuser makes or attempts to make the victim financially dependent on them. This occurs most commonly among partners who are married, live together or share some significant asset. Economic abuse includes: maintaining total control over financial resources even the victim’s income, withholding money or access to money, forbidding attendance at school, forbidding employment, harassment at work, tracking of all money spent, and even forced welfare fraud.
Emotional abuse occurs when the abuser undermines or attempts to undermine the victim’s sense of self worth. Similar to psychological abuse, emotional abuse can be hard to prove in court. Some examples of emotional abuse are: constant criticism, belittling, name-calling, insults, the silent treatment, manipulation, deliberately causing guilt, and sabotaging a partner’s relationship with their children.
It’s important to note that many cases of domestic violence encompass many, if not all of the aforementioned types of abuse. It is uncommon for one form of domestic violence to manifest itself without other types coming into play as well. Psychological and emotional damage are almost always byproducts of economic, sexual and physical abuse, causing further devastation to the victim and potentially causing them to feel helpless.