Definitions of Abuse and Battering

Battering is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Battering happens when one person believes he (or she) is entitled to control another. Assault, battering and domestic violence are crimes.

Battering may include emotional abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, using children, threats, intimidation, isolation, and a variety of other behaviors to maintain fear, intimidation and power.

Psychological Battering. Mental violence can include constant verbal abuse, harassment, excessive possessiveness, isolation from friends and family, deprivation of physical and economic resources, and destruction of personal property. Battering escalates. It often begins with behaviors like threats, insults, name calling, violence in her/his presence (such as punching a fist through a wall), damage to objects or pets. It may escalate to physical battering.

Physical Battering. Physical abuse can range from bruising to murder. It often begins with what is excused as trivial contacts which escalate into more frequent and serious attacks. Physical battering may include restraining, pushing, slapping, pinching, punching, kicking, biting, sexual assault, tripping, throwing. Finally, it may become life-threatening with serious behaviors such as choking, breaking bones, or the use of weapons.

Sexual Abuse. Physical attacks by the abuser are often accompanied by, or culminate in, sexual violence: the individual is forced to have sexual intercourse or take part in unwanted sexual activity.

Physical Abuse

  • Pushes you
  • Injures you with slaps, kicks and punches
  • Exposes you to risks, such as reckless driving
  • Throws objects
  • Threatens or injures with a weapon
  • Physically prevents you from leaving the house
  • Locks you out of the house
  • Abandons you in a dangerous place
  • Refuses to help you when you are sick, injured or pregnant
  • Prevents you from seeking medical care
  • Keeps you awake at night
  • Refuses to buy food or other necessities
  • Abuses the children
  • Threatens to injure your family members or friends

Sexual Abuse

  • Treats you as a sex object
  • Withholds sex and affection
  • Forces you to strip when you don't want to
  • Commits cruel sexual acts
  • Forces you to have sex against your will, rapes you
  • Forces you to have sex after a beating
  • Extremely jealous, accuses you of having affairs
  • Forces you to watch and/or repeat pornographic acts

Emotional Abuse

  • Criticizes you, yells and insults you (e.g., says that you are too fat, too skinny, too stupid, a bad parent, bad partner, bad lover)
  • Ignores your feelings
  • Ridicules your most valued beliefs
  • Withholds affection as punishment
  • Refuses to work and share financial responsibilities
  • Keeps you from working
  • Manipulates you with lies and contradictions
  • Insults family and friends to drive them away
  • Refuses to socialize with you
  • Prevents contact with family and friends
  • Keeps you from using the telephone
  • Controls the money and makes all financial decisions
  • Humiliates you in public
  • Harasses you at work
  • Threatens to leave or throw you out of the house
  • Threatens to kidnap the children
  • Punishes or deprives the children


Does your partner . . .

___Embarrass or make fun of you in front of family and friends?
___Put down your accomplishments or goals?
___Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
___Use intimidation or threats to get you to agree?
___Tell you that you are nothing without him/her?
___Treat you roughly: grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
___Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
___Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
___Blame you for how he/she feels or acts?
___Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for?
___Make you feel like there is no way out of the relationship?
___Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends and family?
___Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson?"

Do you . . .

___Sometimes feel afraid of how your partner will act?
___Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior?
___Believe that you can help your partner change only if you change something about yourself?
___Spend energy trying not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
___Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
___Always do what your partner wants instead of what you want?
___Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what they might do if you broke up?

If any of these sounds like your relationship, talk to someone.