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Counseling Center

Humphreys 131
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Phone: 660.543.4060
Hours: 8 AM-12PM, 1PM-5PM
Summer: 7:30AM-12PM,1PM-4:30PM





types_of_abuse

Types of Abuse

Emotional/Psychological Abuse
Physical Abuse
Rape & Sexual Abuse
Economic Abuse


An abusive relationship often begins with emotional abuse. An abuser may also use physical or sexual abuse to give power to psychologically abusive acts, controlling the individual with verbal threats of further abuse.

Emotional or Psychological Abuse


Emotional or psychological abuse can be indicated when the abuser:

  • Ignores partner’s feelings
  • Ridicules or insults women/men as a group
  • Ridicules partner’s most valued beliefs (religion, race, heritage, class)
  • Attacks partner’s vulnerabilities (incest survivor, weight, parenting skills, problems with substance abuse)
  • Withholds approval, appreciation or affection as a punishment
  • Continually criticizes, calls names or shouts at partner
  • Insults partner’s friends and family to drive them away from partner
  • Isolates partner from friends, family or other social groups
  • Threatens to hurt partner and/or partner’s family
  • Humiliates partner in public or private
  • Refuses to socialize with partner
  • Takes car keys or money away
  • Regularly threatens to leave or tells partner to leave
  • Punishes children when angry with partner
  • Threatens to kidnap children if partner leaves
  • Abuses pets or partner’s precious belongings
  • Publicly shows sexual interest in others
  • Has affairs after committing to a monogamous relationship
  • Tells partner about affairs to hurt partner
  • Harasses partner about affairs abuser imagines partner to be having
  • Manipulates partner with lies and contradictions
  • Plays mind games or undercuts partner’s sense of reality
  • Always claims to be right
  • Breaks promises and does not following through with agreements
  • Denies responsibility

Over time, emotional abuse wears away self-esteem. This commonly results in the partner’s ability to tune out the abuser as to not react to the verbal abuse. Often, this is when physical violence may begin.

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Physical Abuse

The marks left by physical abuse usually start out small and can be easily hidden or explained. As time progresses, these injuries become more difficult to hide as violence increases in severity and intensity.

Physical abuse can be indicated when the abuser:

  • Grabs, scratches, bites, or spits at partner
  • Twists, strangles or restrains partner
  • Hits, pushes, shoves, shakes, kicks or slaps partner
  • Throws or burns partner
  • Throws objects at partner
  • Holds partner or blocks door to prevent partner from leaving
  • Locks partner in or out of house
  • Abandons partner in a dangerous place
  • Refuses to come to aid of partner when partner is sick, injured or pregnant
  • Withholds medication or treatment to partner
  • Subjects the partner to reckless driving
  • Forces the partner’s car off the road
  • Abuses partner at mealtime, which disrupts eating patterns and can result in malnutrition
  • Abuses partner at night, which disrupts sleeping patterns and can result in sleep deprivation
  • Threatens to hurt partner with weapon
  • Attacks partner with weapons or kills partner

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Rape & Sexual Abuse


Many victims of partner violence are also sexually abused by their partners. Rape and sexual abuse can be extremely difficult for individuals to discuss because of the unimaginable ways rape or sexual assault can be perpetrated by abusers.

Rape or sexual abuse can be indicated when the abuser:

  • Regularly treats or speaks to women as sex objects
  • Is jealously angry and assumes partner will have sex with anyone
  • Insists partner dress in a more sexual way than she wants
  • Minimizes the importance of partner’s feelings about sex
  • Criticizes partner about sex
  • Withholds sex and affection as punishment
  • Calls partner derogatory sexual names
  • Insists on unwanted and uncomfortable touching
  • Pressures partner to have unwanted sex by manipulation or threats
  • Forces or coerces partner to strip against her will
  • Forces or coerces partner into unwanted sexual acts
  • Coerces partner into sexual acts partner is uncomfortable with, such as sex with a third party, physically painful sex, sexual activity partner finds offensive or verbal degradation during sex
  • Forces or coerces sex after or during physical abuse
  • Forces or coerces sex when partner is sick or when it may endanger partner’s health
  • Forces or coerces sex for the purpose of hurting partner
  • Commits sadistic sexual acts upon partner
  • Inflicts injuries that are sex-specific
  • Denies partner contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases

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Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is often present in relationships in which a partner is financially dependent on the other person. It is also a tool used by abusers to control an individual, making it extremely difficult for that person to leave the relationship, especially when there are children involved.

Economic abuse can be indicated when the abuser:

  • Controls all the money and bank accounts
  • Makes all financial decisions independent of partner
  • Does not let partner work outside the home
  • Sabotages partner’s attempts to work or go to school
  • Refuses to work and makes partner support the family
  • Ruins partner’s credit rating
  • Withholds money needed for food, bills or children’s needs
  • Rations money according to acceptable behavior by the abuser

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*Sources for Types of Abuse: The Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence, "A Framework for Understanding the Dynamics of Domestic Violence" and Survival Adult Abuse Center, Inc., "Advocacy and Domestic Violence Awareness Training Manual."