5 MIN READ | Relationship

Recognising Three Types of Abuse: Mental Abuse, Physical Abuse, Verbal Abuse

Dennis Relojo-Howell

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Dennis Relojo-Howell, (2020, February 25). Recognising Three Types of Abuse: Mental Abuse, Physical Abuse, Verbal Abuse. Psychreg on Relationship. https://www.psychreg.org/types-of-abuse/
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Within any violent relationship, there are many different types of abuse that may emerge. Whether it be mental abuse, physical abuse, or verbal abuse, helping you to recognise these is the first step to freedom.

Do you think you’re in an abusive relationship, but are unsure how to recognise the signs? Perhaps you think a friend or child is being abused, but you want to be sure before taking action? 

Physical abuse can be easy to spot, but other forms of domestic abuse, like mental and verbal abuse, can be harder to identify. That said, by no means does this mean that these types of abuse aren’t just as serious. In fact, they can have major psychological effects on the individual.

In any of these cases, a non-molestation order, which can help the victim afford legal aid to obtain justice, will be necessary. But first, we must be sure that one of the types of domestic abuse are prevalent. 

Different types of abuse?

Domestic violence can rear its head in a multitude of ways. The real questions we want to answer here are what types of abuse are there, and how many types of abuse are there. Well, breaking abuse down into types, we can see that there are around six types of domestic violence, which include:

  • Sexual abuse. Although this was not always the case, rape and sexual assault, even within a relationship, are now deemed as criminal offences. Any unwanted sexual conduct falls within this category.
  • Coercive control. A pattern of acts, including intimidation, assault, humiliation or threats, which deprive the recipient of independence. This causes the person to become isolated, and dependent on their abuser, so they often can’t seek help.
  • Financial abuse. Controlling someone through their money. This could include restricting what the victim can or can’t buy, controlling expenditure, and even taking hold of bank cards.
  • Physical abuse. Using physical force to hurt the recipient, potentially going as far as to cause broken bones and bruises.
  • Mental abuse. If the attacker is constantly putting you down, criticising you, threatening you, and making you feel guilty through blackmail or the silent treatment, this manipulation classes as abuse.
  • Verbal abuse. Threatening someone, calling them names, shouting, and being cruel through words.

As our first three types of abuse fall into the categories of physical, verbal and mental abuse, we’ll be focusing on just these last three types, here. This way, you should be able to recognise the tropes, and get out of a bad situation before it’s too late.

What is physical abuse

The signs of physical abuse are a little more self-explanatory than our other types, as they can prevail as bruises, and even physical injuries, like broken bones. But what exactly is the physical abuse definition?

What is meant by physical abuse is that it is generally defined by the act of someone deliberately injuring you. This could be as a way to punish you or stop you from doing something you want to do.

The key word here is ‘deliberately’. Someone may accidentally hurt you, a child, or an animal, by not seeing them in the way, for example. The clear difference is if someone lashes out at you in an aggressive way for a specific reason.

What is verbal abuse?

Secondly, you may be wondering what constitutes verbal abuse. Again, this is a bit more self-explanatory than the more emotional types of abuse, as it’s clear when someone is being nasty and bullying. 

The verbal abuse definition says that it is ‘the act of forcefully criticising, insulting, or denouncing another person’. The idea of this is to harm the victim’s concept of themselves, making them feel worthless so that they become dependent on the attacker.

Verbal abuse in the workplace?

It’s important to remember that verbal abuse isn’t just limited to romantic relationships. In fact, verbal abuse at work is a common complaint which accompanies a toxic work environment. Within employment law, there are certain avenues you can take to combat this; head to your HR department to see what they suggest.

What is non-verbal abuse?

This is another form of abuse, which has a similar purpose to verbal abuse in the eyes of the attacker. Instead, though, non-verbal abuse uses physical gestures, such as eye-rolling, ignoring, smirking, or withholding information to manipulate the victim in a derogatory way.

How to deal with verbal abuse

Verbal and non-verbal abusers cannot be reasoned with. So, if you’re wondering how to stop verbal abuse, the best way to do so is through upfront confrontation. This may seem scary, but it really is the only way to get through to someone whose idea of reality may be different to yours.

So, every time you think you’re being verbally berated, call the attacker out. For example, if they’re blaming you for not arriving somewhere on time because of traffic, don’t try and reason with them that you couldn’t have foreseen the traffic. Instead, just tell them outright that they can’t blame you for something that you have no control over.

What is mental abuse?

Mental abuse signs come in a number of forms, which can sometimes be difficult to pinpoint. However, by no means does this mean that mental abuse is any less serious than physical, and can even lead to jail time for the abuser.

If an abuser constantly puts you down, making you feel worthless and isolated, this is most certainly mental abuse. If you start to feel scared to do something in case it may upset or make your partner angry, this is a clear indicator.

Generally, if you constantly feel uneasy, and it gets to the point when it’s persistent and damaging to your mental health, then this is when the tables have turned.

Mental abuse in a relationship

Mental abuse can be difficult to identify within a relationship, as it can be common for lovers to argue and become angry at each other. But, when blackmail comes into the picture, and you are being made to feel guilty for going about your daily business, this could be a sure sign.

An example of this could be that you are made to feel guilty for going out with your friends, and are forced to come home early, or cancel altogether, for fear of being told off. Emotional abuse can even be in the form of gaslighting; when the attacker makes the victim feel crazy for pointing out the problem.

How to deal with mental abuse

Often, being psychologically manipulated can make you believe that you’re fabricating things, so you feel like a burden to anyone you may tell. So, the main obstacle for someone who’s suffering from mental abuse is recognising that this is what’s happening. If you’re unsure, just remember that if something doesn’t feel right, that’s enough to get help from a person or organisation.

How to get over mental abuse

As we’ve seen, psychological abuse is now deemed a criminal offence. That said, even after the abuse is over, it can be difficult to overcome such a hurdle, mentally.

There are some ways to tackle the aftermath of abuse, which you can do in your own time. Some of these include:

  • Coming to terms with what happened by researching the topic via online articles;
  • Learning to forgive yourself through acts of self-love;
  • And reclaiming your own narrative, which may have been warped by the abuser.

Otherwise, mental abuse help can be found in a number of ways, via external means. Whether it be turning to a friend for help, contacting a helpline, or getting counselling after the ordeal, there are a number of avenues you can choose.

Think you, or someone you know, are a victim of abuse?

Now that you’ve read about the signs of domestic abuse, perhaps you’re now certain this is what you’re experiencing? The main piece of advice is to talk to someone.

Whether it be a friend or a professional service, this is the best port of call. In cases like this, the internet is your best friend, and can provide you with the numbers to contact. Just remember that you are not a burden, you are worthy, and you are loved.

Have you escaped an abusive relationship, and want to tell your story? We’d love to hear about how you dealt with the situation. Perhaps you can be the shining light in someone else’s story, so they know they’re not alone.

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Image credit: Freepik


Dennis Relojo-Howell is the founder of Psychreg. He interviews people within psychology, mental health, and well-being on his YouTube channel, The DRH Show


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