Definitions of Abuse

The more knowledge you have of abuse and its different forms, the more help you can be to yourself and others.

• Physical abuse includes hitting, slapping, punching with hands, weapons or objects. Choking, shoving, shaking and physically restraining and using physical force in such a way that causes injury or puts a person at risk of being injured.

• Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, screaming, ridicule and name-calling. Constant criticism, verbal threats, social isolation, exploitation, intimidation and stalking are also forms of emotional abuse.

• Sexual abuse is all forms of sexual assault, harassment or exploitation, including forced sexual activity, unwanted sexual activities or behavior, and unwanted touching.

• Economic abuse includes withholding money, controlling how a person spends money, forcing a person to hand over their paycheck, using a credit card without permission, preventing a person from working or controlling their choice of occupation.

• Psychological Abuse is when a person causes fear by intimidation. It includes threats to physically harm children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation from family, friends.

Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and