Abuse can come in many forms – verbal, physical, sexual or emotional. Many abusive relationships involve more than one type of abuse, and none of them should be tolerated.
Sexual abuse is when someone forces you into unwanted sexual activity, especially through threats or coercion.
In a healthy sexual relationship, you shouldn't feel threatened, pressured or uncomfortable with your partner. If you feel these negative emotions, it's likely you're being abused.
Emotional and Verbal Abuse
Emotional and verbal abuse are somewhat more difficult to define. These types of abuse often involve angry outbursts, withholding of emotional responses, manipulative coercion or unreasonable demands. Verbal abuse is often insulting and humiliating, with the abuser making fun of or ridiculing the target.
Emotional abuse often includes verbal abuse. It also involves the abuser taking complete control over the life of the person being abused, often by making threats or otherwise manipulating that person.
Those who are being emotionally or verbally abused are often made to feel that their perception of reality is incorrect and that their feelings are wrong and unimportant.
Physical abuse occurs when someone physically hurts you, such as by hitting you or throwing something at you. Even if someone only hits you once or doesn't hurt you that badly, it is a big deal.
Abuse tends to escalate, putting you at greater risk in the future. Just one incident of being physically hurt by your partner is unacceptable, and you should take steps to stop the abuse.
Last Reviewed: August 2019