What Does Abuse Look Like? August 24.17


In April and May of 2017, I took a training with Empower Yolo in Northern California. These training were centered around topics of sexual assault and domestic violence.  In these trainings, I got a clearer picture of what abuse can look like. I used to think that abuse was only physical, but there is actually much more to abuse than I once thought. In fact, many people do not know they are being abused or that they are being abusive. Below I have listed a few examples in six categories of abuse that I learned about.  I wrote out this list in order to spread awareness. I would like to add that this is not a complete list and many examples may overlap with one another.


  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, biting, pulling hair, kicking, strangling, locking you out of or inside of your house, keeping your keys from you so that you can’t drive your car, abandoning you in dangerous places, refusing to help you when you are sick, subjecting you to reckless driving, raping you, throwing things at you, spitting on you, taking your cell phone away so you can’t call for help.


  • Treats you like a sex object, dehumanizes you, saying that you would be sexually active with anyone available, insists that you dress in a more sexual way than you want to, insist on making you preform acts you don’t want to do, withhold sex or affection, calls you sexual names, rapes you, forces you to take your clothes off when you don’t want to, publicly shows sexual interest in others, brings home and forces you to watch unwelcomed pornography, makes you have sex with other people for money or pleasure. (Ladies)-getting pregnant on purpose to gain control or manipulate a man.


  • Denying you access to your own bank accounts, making you account for all of your spending, creates dependency, forces you to work or refuses to let you work, sabotages your work or school, runs up debts in your name, engages in excessive spending, breaks things that must be replaced, causes you to get evicted.


  • Ignores your feelings, intimidates you, makes fun of your race, heritage, class, or gender, withholds approval as a form of punishment, criticizes you or calls you names in front of others, insults your family of friends, makes all decisions for you, controls your actions, manipulates you and lies with contradictions, isolates you from your family/friends, rationalizes things that were hurtful, looks like an “angel” to everyone else but changes when no one is looking, blames you for everything, uses gas lighting to confuse your mind, controls the way you perceive reality, controls the way your family members or friends see you.


  • Isolates you from people who can be supportive of you, destroys your self-esteem through unrelenting words or actions, separates you from things that are important to your identity, calling you crazy, saying “God said…” to manipulate you into engaging in destructive behaviors.


  • Threatening to post private pictures on social media as a form of blackmail, uses cell phone apps to track or stalk you, sends threatening text messages/emails.

I strongly believe that the first step to ending abuse is being able to recognize it when it is happening and then educating one another and spreading awareness of what it looks like. Nobody deserves to be abused.


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