What is Intimate Partner Abuse?
Partner abuse (also called spousal 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 an abusive wife, girlfriend, husband, or boyfriend 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 who are 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.
Intimate partner 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, sometimes there is mutual abuse—each partner abusing the other.
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:
- verbal abuse,
- sexual abuse,
- financial abuse,
- physical abuse,
- spiritual abuse,
- legal abuse, or
- emotional/psychological 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
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.
- Ann Silvers