What is Intimate Partner Abuse?

What is Intimate Partner Abuse?


Partner abuse happens in far too many relationships. It wears out the abused wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend. And it's harmful to the abusive partner too.

People on the receiving end of abuse from partner can have a difficult time figuring out what is happening and be overwhelmed by trying to deal with the situation. It's a confusing and debilitating place to be. 

People who are being abusive may or may not be aware of the damage they are causing to the relationship, their partner, and any children witnessing the abuse. Abusive people can sometimes take themselves to task and learn how to stop their abusive attitudes and behaviors. Sometimes they don't want to do that, and the only way for a partner to not be abused is for the relationship to end. 


What is Intimate Partner Abuse?

Intimate partner abuse is a pattern of controlling, demeaning, and/or punishing behaviors and attitudes with a dating, cohabiting, or marriage partner, during or after the relationship.

At its core, partner abuse is driven by self-centered motivations.

Abuse can happen in any configuration of romantic couple, straight or gay.

Sometimes a man in a couple abuses his partner, sometimes a woman is abusive.

Intimate partner abuse is sometimes called domestic violence (DV) or intimate partner violence (IPV). From my perspective, the violence label would ideally be saved for violent forms of partner abuse, but it is often attached to any level of mistreatment. 


What is Mutual Abuse?

Sometimes there is bi-directional abuse—each partner abusing the other.

Mutual abuse is a less formal label for this toxic behavior pattern. 


Examples of Partner Abuse

We most often think about physically violent acts when we think about partner abuse, but there are many methods of choice for controlling, demeaning, and punishing partners.

Partner abuse takes on many forms.

Every form of abuse includes an emotional component. If you are financially, physically, sexually, verbally, or spiritually abused by your girlfriend, boyfriend, wife or husband, you will also feel emotionally and psychologically abused by that partner.

7 forms of intimate partner abuse:

  1. verbal abuse,
  2. sexual abuse,
  3. financial abuse,
  4. physical abuse,
  5. spiritual abuse,
  6. legal abuse, or
  7. emotional/psychological abuse.


Examples of Partner Abuse, 7 forms of Partner Abuse


Degrees of Abuse

Abuse can range from mild to severe.

Some behaviors are severely abusive even if they occur only once. For example, if your partner stabs you, and it's not in legitimate self-defense, that's severely abusive. 

Other behaviors may be considered very abusive because of the number of times they occur. For example, if your partner berates you repeatedly, that could reach severe levels of abuse. 

A variety of abusive behaviors may combine to increase the degree of abuse. For example, if your partner berates you, and lies to you, and gaslights you, and steals from you, the combination of abuses increases the severity of abuse experienced. 


Partner Abuse Books

Partner Abuse Domestic Violence Help Books by Ann Silvers


I've learned a lot about partner abuse through academic study and real life experiences of being the target of an abusive boyfriend (who turned into an abusive ex-boyfriend). 

I've added to that knowledge by hearing the stories of men and women on both sides of the abuse equation, and helping counseling clients deal with abuse. Sometimes those clients learn how to have healthy happy relationships and repair damage done. Other times they need assistance ending an abusive relationship and healing their emotional wounds.

My books about partner abuse provide an opportunity for you to benefit from all that learning. 

Click here to find out more

  • Ann Silvers
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