Types of Abuse: What are the Different Forms of Abuse?
Unfortunately, many types of abuse are all too common in adult relationships. Forms of abuse often are seen in domestic partnerships but abuse is also common between elders and their adult children. No matter the age, gender, socioeconomic status, education or ethnicity, anyone can become a victim of abuse. Knowing about the forms of abuse can allow you to spot them and stop the abuse as soon as possible.
Types of Abuse
There are several different types of abuse recognized. Forms of abuse include:1
- Emotional abuse aka Psychological abuse – this type of abuse is likely the most common. Emotional abuse consists of any behavior designed to hurt another person mentally. Psychological abuse includes yelling, threats, shaming, humiliation and shaming, among other tactics.
- Financial abuse – this type of abuse is often seen alongside other forms of abuse. Financial abuse is when one person restricts access to money from another. This type of abuse includes actions like cutting off access to bank accounts, controlling where someone is allowed to work and preventing access to financial information.
- Physical abuse – this form of abuse shows the most outward signs. Physical abuse is also known as domestic abuse or domestic violence when it occurs within intimate relationships. Physical abuse is any physical act or threat of a physical act designed to harm another person physically. This type of abuse includes actions like slapping, punching, hair-pulling and kicking. Physical evidence such as bruises need not exist for the act to be physical abuse.
- Sexual abuse – this type of abuse is often perpetrated against women although men can be victims of sexual abuse too. Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual act forced on the victim. This form of abuse is also often known as sexual assault or rape. Sexual abuse can include anything from unwanted touching to forced intercourse or forced sexual contact with another person.
- Verbal abuse – verbal abuse is generally a form of psychological abuse. This type of abuse occurs when an abuser uses words and body language with the intent to hurt another person. Verbal abuse includes put-downs, name-calling and unreasonable criticisms.
- Elder abuse – this type of abuse happens between an elder and another person, typically younger, such as the elder’s child. Elder abuse consists of other forms of abuse perpetrated against an elder. This form of abuse often consists of financial, emotional and even physical abuse.
- Spiritual abuse – spiritual abuse revolves around a person’s spirituality or religion. This type of abuse includes attacking another’s belief system, denying access to a house of worship or forced participation in a cult.
All forms of abuse are illegal, although some are harder to prosecute than others. Many of these different types of abuse are also perpetrated against children and teens. For detailed information on child abuse and the types of child abuse, go here.
Last Updated: 15 November 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD