People often equate the term “abuse” with physical violence, but abuse is actually any pattern of behavior used to harm, belittle or gain control over another person. Abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, digital or financial. No one deserves to be treated that way, so it’s critical to speak up at the first signs of abuse.
Learn more about the different types of abuse, the warning signs and how to get help. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse and you aren’t sure what actions to take, please contact one of the resources below.
This is what many people think of when they hear the word ‘abuse.’ It includes punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, or physically restraining someone against their will. It can also include putting someone at risk of harm by driving recklessly.
Words and manipulation can be just as painful and damaging as physical abuse. Verbal abuse involves name-calling, threats, criticisms, gaslighting and other emotional ways to control someone, make them feel weak, small and unable to stand up for themselves.
Sexual violence is a broad term that includes sexual assault, rape and sexual abuse. It affects hundreds of thousands of Americans each year and is most often perpetuated by someone the victim knows or is in a relationship with.
Financial abuse can involve concealing information, limiting the victim’s access to assets or reducing access to family finances. Like other types of abuse, it’s meants to intimidate, threaten or manipulate someone to keep them trapped in a relationship.
Digital dating abuse is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate someone. Basically, it’s emotional or verbal abuse perpetrated online.
Regardless of where you are in your treatment journey, there are simple strategies for coping in those moments when the effects of trauma feel overwhelming. These resources are a great place to start to help yourself or support a friend.
Recognize the Abuse
The first step is to acknowledge the abuse and call it what it is. While physical abuse has clear warning signs, emotional and verbal abuse can be harder to spot. Healthline put together these warning signs to help.
Make a Plan
Before taking any action, it’s important to make a plan that helps keep yourself, and any children or pets, safe. The Hotline put together a guide and you can contact them directly for a confidential conversation and help in creating your safety plan.
Report the Abuse
Intervention can be lifesaving, but people may be afraid to contact the police about abuse because they’re worried they may not be believed or they’re concerned it will lead to conflict with officers. The Hotline put together some tips and information to help when considering how and when to report abuse.
Support a Friend
Abuse is a sensitive and dangerous issue. If you’re concerned about friends, trust your instincts and show them support. Huffington Post put together some tips to help in supporting a loved one.
Abuse puts survivors at greater risk of mental health conditions, substance misuse and suicide, so it’s important to never ignore the warning signs. If you feel hopeless or like you can’t go on, contact one of the resources below as soon as possible.
Domestic Violence Hotline
Free, confidential support 24/7.
|Call Line||1-800-799-SAFE (7233)|
Crisis Text Line
Have a free, confidential chat with a trained counselor. Available 24/7.
|Text Line||Text ACTION to 741-741|
Call for a free, confidential conversation with a trained counselor. Available 24/7.
A free peer support phone service run by trans people for the trans community. Operates from 10am to 5am EST.
The Trevor Project
A safe, judgement free support service for LGBTQ and questioning youth who are struggling or thinking about suicide. Available 24/7.
Outside the U.S.? Find a Helpline
Free emotional support, wherever you are.