The different types of domestic and family violence

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Contrary to popular belief, physical violence is not the only type of domestic violence. Domestic and family violence (DFV) comes in various guises, all of which we need to understand if we are to make a difference to resolving it. 

Recently, we posted about the start of a unique global campaign – the 16 Days of Activism – marked by the the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. 

This important day gives us a chance to reflect on violence against women. 

While this incredibly important day and campaign may be inspired by physical violence against women, its essence and ethos covers far more: it also encompasses the other forms of violence that women face on a daily basis. 

While this has been recognised for some time, it is not always appreciated on a widespread basis in society, leading to issues in fighting back against the myriad forms of violence women face. 

Things rings true in the experiences of those at the coalface of countering violence against women.

Domestic and family violence is not always physical abuse. Often it includes several different types of harmful behaviour. 

Knowing its signs and types can help us all recognise different forms of abuse and violence and allow us to take appropriate steps to intervene or find help either for ourselves or others. 

Here are the different types of domestic violence and abuse include (without necessarily being exhaustive):

1. Physical violence and abuse

Often the most visible form of DFV, physical abuse can involve direct assaults on the body, including use of weapons, driving dangerously, destruction of property, abusing pets in front of family members and forced sleep deprivation. 

Physical abuse rarely occurs in isolation and perpetrators can also inflict other types of abuse on victims.

2. Emotional abuse and coercion 

Emotional manipulation through bullying or controlling behaviour is toxic and damaging to one’s self-esteem and self-worth. 

Victims are often blamed for problems in the relationship, negatively compared with others, or bullied. 

Emotionally abusive behaviour can undermine someone’s self-esteem and self-worth.

3. Financial abuse and control

Taking complete control of all finances, restricting another person’s access to bank accounts or using their money without consent is considered financial abuse. 

It involves controlling behaviour intended to make victims feel vulnerable, isolated and trapped in their situation.

4. Sexual abuse and violence

While sexual abuse can involve strangers, did you know that the majority of sexual abuse victims know their perpetrator?

Sexual abuse in a relationship involves any form of sexual activity without consent, but it can also involve inflicting pain during sex, assaulting the genitals, coercive sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease, or using sexually degrading insults.

5. Social abuse

Attempting to control someone by isolating them from their friends and connections is a form of abuse.

Techniques such as rudeness to family and friends, moving to locations where the victim doesn’t know anyone, or forbidding them from leaving the house can cause mental harm.

6. Verbal abuse and insults

Words can cause as much damage to a person as physical abuse. 

Verbal abuse includes humiliating taunts either privately or publicly, verbal ‘put downs’ about a person’s intelligence, sexuality, body image or value as a family member, parent or spouse.

7. Spiritual abuse, gaslighting and manipulation

Using religious teachings or cultural traditions to justify forms of abuse, denigration of a cultural background or denying access to religious ceremonies, land or family, is considered a type of spiritual abuse. 

This form of abuse may be difficult to identify, as many victims may not realise they are being abused.

8. Elder or child abuse

As many elders and children cannot protect or advocate for themselves, these groups of people are at risk of experiencing physical, financial, emotional or sexual abuse. 

Neglecting to care for children and elderly people is also considered a form of abuse.

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse or violence of any of the above kinds, it is critical to remember that it is not their or your fault, and that support is available to help you.

We encourage you to get in touch with us and we will do everything in our power to support. You are never alone. 

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