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Abuse Defined

Physical Abuse

  • Harming you in any way
  • Pulling your hair
  • Punching, pushing, slapping, kicking, biting, or choking you
  • Forbidding or preventing you from eating or sleeping
  • Damaging your property (especially while they’re angry) by throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.
  • Using a weapon as a threat or hurting you with a gun, knife, or other weapon
  • Trapping you in your home or keeping you from leaving
  • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
  • Harming your children
  • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past).
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol

Emotional Abuse

  • Embarrassing you in public
  • Shaming you with put-downs and criticism
  • Calling you names, insulting you, or continually criticizing you
  • Telling you that you can’t ever do anything right
  • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions or any decisions at all
  • Showing jealousy of your friends or time you’ve spent away
  • Preventing or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Controlling where you go and who you see and talk to
  • Monitoring where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Demanding to know where you are every minute
  • Punishing you by withholding affection
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent
  • Threatening to hurt you, the children, your family, or your pets
  • Threatening to kill you 
  • Threatening to commit suicide
  • Humiliating you in any way
  • Gaslighting (manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity)
  • Accusing you of cheating
  • Cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior
  • Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
  • Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc. than you are
  • Controlling your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
  • Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them
  • Blaming you for the abuse, denying the abuse, or acting like the abuse is no big deal
  • Forcing you to drop criminal charges

Sexual Abuse

  • Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
  • Insulting you in sexual ways or calling you sexual names
  • Manipulating you into to having sex
  • Forcing you to perform sexual acts that you are not comfortable with
  • Holding you down during sex
  • Demanding sex when you’re sick or tired, or after hurting you
  • Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
  • Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
  • Ignoring your feelings about sex
  • Forcing you to watch pornography
  • Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
  • Sexual Coercion:
    • There are various levels of sexual coercion.  It can range from light persuasion to forcing you to have contact. It can be verbal statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. Or it could be emotional, subtle actions that make you feel forced. For example, an abusive partner:
      • Making you feel like you owe them:
      • because you’re in a relationship,
      • because you’ve had sex before, or
      • because they spent money on you
      • Giving you drugs or alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
      • Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship. Saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me” or “If I don’t get sex from you, I’ll get it from somewhere else”
      • Reacting with sadness, anger, or resentment if you say no or don’t agree to a sexual behavior or act.
      • Continuing to pressure you after you say no
      • Making you feel afraid of what might happen if you say no
      • Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
    • Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts, making someone feel obligated is coercion. Being in a dating relationship or marriage never means you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.

Financial Abuse

  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking your money or forcing you to ask for money
  • Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
  • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
  • Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
  • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
  • Maxing out credit cards in your name without your permission
  • Not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
  • Stealing money from you or your family and friends
  • Using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission
  • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
  • Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
  • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine

Get Help Today

If you have experienced or witnessed these behaviors in a relationship, it may be unhealthy or abusive.  Call an advocate today at 1.800.770.1650 or text 'iowahelp' to 20121.  Our services are always free and always confidential.