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How Do You Define Abuse?

Abusive behavior comes from a desire for power and control.

Typical patterns of behaviors used by abusers include

Destructive Criticism and Verbal Attacks
Name calling, mocking, accusing, swearing, making humiliating remarks or gestures, ridiculuing your most valued beliefs.
Pressure Tactics or Threats
Rushing you to make decisions using guilt, fear or intimidation; regularly threatening to leave or telling you to leave; making and/or carrying out threats to hurt you or others; threatening you with a weapon, etc.; locking you in or out of the house; taking the children; threatening suicide; reporting you to the Department of Social Services; making you lose your job or something important to you.
Emotional Abuse
Manipulating you with lies or contradictions (playing “mind games”); making you feel stupid/crazy (usually this is specific to whatever makes you feel the worst); not following through on agreements; manipulating the children; abandoning you in a dangerous place; refusing to take care of you or get help when you are sick or hurt; destroying your possessions.
Sexual Violence
Degrading treatment; forcing you to have sex; using threats or coercion to obtain sex or perform sexual acts; coercing sex during or after a violent incident.
Minimizing, Denying and Blaming
Making light of behavior; insisting it’s not serious; denying the abuse happened; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior (“It’s your fault, you made me do it.”)<
Physical Violence
Being violent to you, others, or household pets; slapping; punching; grabbing; kicking; choking; pushing; biting; holding you to prevent your leaving.
Making uninvited visits; following you; embarrassing you in public; refusing to leave when asked; accusing you of seeing someone else (being overly jealous); obsessive web communication, such as e-mails, instant messages, Facebook, and cell phone calls and text messages.
Economic Control
Interfering with your work or not letting you work; threatening to withhold money; refusing to give you money or taking your money; taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car; ruining your credit; forcing you to do illegal acts for money.
Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives; making family and friends so uncomfortable they do not want to visit; monitoring phone calls; telling you where you can and cannot go; moving to a place where you have support; not letting you have a phone or access to the car.
Using looks, actions or gestures to make you scared to do something differently; making angry or threatening gestures; acting “crazy” or out of control; subjecting you to reckless driving; using physical size to intimidate (such as standing in the doorway during aruments); out-shouting you.

Who does abuse affect?

Domestic violence occurs in every culture, country and age group. It affects people from all socioeconomic, educational and religious backgrounds and takes place in relationships between partners of all genders.

How can I help my friend?

  • Listen to them.
  • Believe them.
  • Do not minimize their struggle.
  • Do not judge them.
  • Assure them that they are not responsible for the abuse.
  • Tell them it’s not their fault. You can never make someone else hurt you. How Can I Help Myself?
  • Call the police if you are in danger.
  • Talk with someone you trust: a friend or relative, a neighbor, coworker, physician, nurse, counselor, professor, residential life staff member, or religious or spiritual advisor.
  • Call the Shelter hotline: 573-875-1370 or 800-548-2480 for help.
  • Remember you know your situation better than anyone else and you can choose the option that is best for you.

Adapted from the brochure presented by the MU Council on Violence Against Women.

For more information, contact the MU Relationship & Sexual Prevention Center