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Types of Abusive Relationships and How to Recognize Them

The word abuse is used a lot in casual conversation. You may have heard about friends or family in abusive relationships, or seen abusive relationships on T.V. or in the media. Although this word is often thrown around, it’s important to know what it actually means. Simply put, abuse is any action that intentionally harms or injures another person.

There are many types of abuse, and all of them are harmful. Scroll down and keep reading to learn about three prevalent types of abuse, and how to recognize them in your own life.

Emotional Abuse

The definition of emotional abuse is any action that diminishes the sense of identity, dignity, and self-worth in a person. Emotional abuse can be difficult to recognize. Signs of emotional abuse could include bullying, criticizing, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or verbal assault (yelling, swearing, name calling, insults, mocking, and threats).

These actions can be extremely hurtful to your identity and self-esteem by making you feel unloved, unaccepted, and unworthy. If you are the victim of any of these actions, you might be in an emotionally abusive relationship.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is mainly characterized by intentional acts that cause injury, trauma, and bodily harm through physical assault or violence. Signs of physical abuse could include slapping, pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and punching. Physical abuse can cause major or minor physical damage, but all physical abuse is wrong. Domestic violence comes with criminal consequences for abusers.

If you experience physical pain—even only once or twice—you could be in a physically abusive relationship. Research shows that if a partner intentionally injures their partner, they are likely to continue to do so in the future.

Sexual Abuse

The definition of sexual abuse is when any person forces unwanted sexual behavior on another person. You can recognize sexual abuse if someone forces you to have sex with them without your consent. Even if you’re in a committed dating relationship, the consent of both partners is necessary before sex in order for it to be healthy. You can also recognize sexual abuse if someone touches your private parts without your permission—with or without clothes—and/or forces you to touch their private parts.  

These actions are often combined with emotional and physical abuse. It’s important to remember that there are no better or worse types of abuse. Even if you think what you’re experiencing “isn’t as bad” as some other sexual abuse story you’ve heard, it’s still sexual abuse.

If you are noticing any of these types of abuse in your life, it is important that you first recognize that what you are experiencing is not your fault. Don’t blame yourself. Try to build a support system of people you trust, and work on an exit plan—what you are experiencing is not okay. Many people survive abuse of all types. Things can and will get better. You will feel happy again.  

Here’s another article you might like: Signs You Might Be in a Toxic Relationship

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