The Continuums of Abuse

Abuse often becomes more severe and/or more frequent over time.
The Continuums of Abuse illustrate how physical, psychological, sexual,
and social abuse can progress in their harm and danger.

  • Physical Abuse (in order of increasing danger)
    Holding down, blocking, pinning
    Pushing or shoving
    Shaking or jerking
    Slapping and bruising
    Throwing objects
    Black eyes, cuts, chipped teeth
    Burning with hot drinks, cigarettes, etc.
    Causing serious falls
    Severe beatings
    Broken bones
    Hitting with objects
    Back injuries, paralysis
    Internal injuries
    Use of weapons

  • Psychological Abuse (in order of increasing severity and danger)
    "Jokes" or put-downs that demean the victim
    Acting like the victim's feelings, needs, and ideas don't matter
    Enforcing rigid roles and rules for women
    Controlling through jealousy
    Isolating the victim
    Insults and name-calling
    Yelling and raging
    Humiliation, throwing food
    Fist through wall
    Threats and intimidation
    Destruction of her property
    Hurting or killing pets
    Displaying guns, sleeping with guns
    Depriving the victim of sleep
    Abuser threatens suicide
    Tries to get the victim to commit suicide
    Threatens to kill her and/or the children

  • Sexual Abuse (in order of increasing severity and danger)
    Anger at women
    Sexual jokes and put-downs
    Embarrassing comments
    Treat woman as a sexual object; sex expected as a duty
    Withholding sex to punish
    Touching victim in ways that feel "uncomfortable" Promiscuity and sexual "affairs"
    Sex after or together with violence or abuse
    Forced by violence or threats into sexual acts the victim doesn't want to do
    Marital rape
    Incest with children
    Death of victim