Anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship, no matter their age, gender, or sexual orientation. Movies and TV shows that depict abuse might give you the impression that an abusive relationship is only when someone is getting hit or physically hurt. But there are different types of abuse that can affect your body, your emotions, and your self-esteem.
- Physical abuse means hitting, kicking, pushing, or hurting someone in any way.
- Sexual abuse is forcing your partner to do anything sexual, from kissing to having sex. When you don’t consent to sexual activity, it’s considered sexual assault or rape, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
- Verbal abuse is name-calling, put-downs, and using words to hurt someone.
- Emotional abuse is when your partner tries to make you feel bad about yourself. That can mean hurting your feelings on purpose, jealousy, blaming you for the abuse, cheating, or continually criticizing you. Emotional abuse affects your self-esteem.
- Reproductive control is pressuring your partner to get pregnant, end a pregnancy, lying about birth control, or other controlling decisions about pregnancy and parenting.
- Threats and intimidation use the threat of violence or abuse to control a partner. Threatening children, suicide, or physical violence are all ways to control your behavior.
- Isolation is controlling who you see, what you do, and limiting your access to friends, family, and other forms of emotional and financial support.
Each relationship is different, and the signs of an abusive relationship can vary. But all of these behaviors are ways that one person tries to maintain all of the power in a relationship and control their partner.
Sometimes abusive behaviors begin slowly and get worse as time goes on. If you’ve been feeling devalued, afraid, or controlled, get help. Everyone deserves to be in a relationship where both people feel safe and are respected, trusted, and loved.