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Intimate partner violence is a pattern of intentionally abusive behaviors used to establish a system of control over a partner.

That means the abusive partner will do whatever it takes to keep you stuck in the relationship. Whether that’s beating you down emotionally, hurting you physically, keeping you away from sources of support, controlling everything you do, threatening to destroy the things you love, or saying they can’t live without you. It’s different for everyone.

And it’s not always physical. Abuse is all about control, which may or may not involve physical violence. Abuse can be verbal, emotional, psychological, financial, physical, or sexual. It might involve intimidation, threats, isolation, or manipulation. Sometimes it’s loud, scary, and obvious. Other times it’s quiet, subtle, and hard to explain.  It might not be “bad” all the time—in fact, it’s probably great some of the time and that makes it complicated. You might feel confused, angry, terrified, sad, numb, worthless, or even in love with the person who is hurting you. You might believe that you don’t deserve any better or that you’re somehow to blame for their behavior—but that’s not true. Abuse is never ok. You deserve to be happy, safe, respected, and free, no matter what!

If this is happening to you, know that you’re not alone.

According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. In addition, over 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime. It happens to people from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, religion, ability, socioeconomic background, gender, or sexual orientation.  


Does this sound like your relationship?

Verbal and emotional abuse

Purpose: to establish the abusive partner’s superiority by making the survivor feel stupid, unworthy, and confused.

  • Yelling, insulting, and name calling
  • Belittling and trivializing
  • Degrading and humiliation
  • Jealousy and possessiveness
  • Minimizing and denying abuse
  • Constant criticism and blaming
  • Making demands and treating survivor like they are subservient


Purpose: to cut the survivor off from sources of support that may aid in leaving, seeking help, or holding the abusive partner accountable.

  • Monitoring communications with others
  • Not allowing survivor to see or talk to others
  • Not allowing survivor to work outside the home
  • Not allowing access to phone, internet, or car
  • Turning family and friends against survivor
  • Moving to an unfamiliar place

Physical Abuse

Purpose: to instill fear, punish, and establish physical control.

  • Shaking, slapping, punching, kicking, etc.
  • Restraining survivor
  • Driving recklessly
  • Strangulation
  • Leaving survivor in an unsafe place
  • Not allowing access to medical treatment

Intimidation and Threats

Purpose: to instill fear and control survivor’s behavior.

  • Using physical presence, words or gestures
  • Throwing or destroying objects
  • Excessive calling and texting
  • Making survivor drop charges
  • Displaying weapons
  • Terroristic threats
  • Threats of suicide
  • Abusing pets
  • Extortion

Calm periods and false progress

Purpose: to induce second-guessing, false hope, confusion, guilt, pity, and momentary forgiveness.

  • Temporary “ceasefire”
  • Romance and gifts
  • Allowing survivor new privileges
  • Apologies and promises of change
  • Suddenly becoming “parent of the year”
  • Going to treatment/counseling/church
  • “I need you to help me get better”

Sexual abuse/reproductive coercion

Purpose: to objectify, degrade, and reinforce abusive partner’s complete control.

  • Saying or doing things that make survivor feel violated
  • Forced or coerced sex
  • Forcing victim to have sex with others
  • Sexual battery
  • Forbidding access to contraceptives
  • Sabotaging contraceptives
  • Inducing miscarriage
  • Forced pregnancy
  • Forced abortion

Economic or Financial Abuse

Purpose: to control and limit survivor’s access to resources that may aid in establishing independence.

  • Controlling finances
  • Withholding money
  • Giving an “allowance”
  • Making the survivor account for every penny spent
  • Stealing from survivor
  • Preventing survivor from working
  • Sabotaging survivor’s job (making him/her miss work, calling constantly, etc.)


If you recognize these behaviors, your relationship might be unhealthy, abusive, and/or dangerous. You might be in a situation where you’re scared, but also afraid of what might happen if you leave. Hope Crisis Center can help you create a plan. Give us a call any time at 1-877-388-HOPE (4673).