There are different forms of domestic abuse and while you may identify with a certain form readily, it is common to have more than one form occurring in a relationship. There are characteristics listed under each form which should aid you to recognise the various forms and respond correctly. 







– Female Genital Mutilation FGM.  

Physical Abuse 

  • Beating pushing; shoving; burning; strangling, arm twisting, restraining you
  • Pulling your hair, pinching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
  • Breaking, stealing, or removing your possessions
  • Throwing objects at you and/or threatening to harm you with objects.
  • Locking you in or out of the home
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
  • Stopping   you from sleeping, eating, taking your medications
  • Holding you down or blocking you from leaving
  • Punching walls or doors
  • Driving recklessly to cause fear or intimidation.
  • Harming your children, family or pets

Sexual Abuse

  • Calling you a slut, whore or other demeaning remarks about your physical appearance, sexual performance, or sexual history
  • Unwanted touching
  • Having sex with you when you do not want it or having unsafe sex by withholding or controlling your access to contraception and protection
  • Exposing you to sexually transmitted diseases
  • Making you feel guilty or like you owe him sex through threats or force
  • Using force, threats, or intimidation to make you perform sexual acts, watch pornography, or have sex with others
  • Forcing you to watch pornography or to participate in the making of it
  • Threatening to share intimate images of you with your friends, family, community or online – this is also a specific offence under the Abusive Behaviour and Sexual Harm (Scotland) Act 2016.

Emotional abuse

  • Calling you names and putting you down
  • Giving you the silent treatment
  • Making threats to hurt you, your children or others you care about including pets
  • Telling you that you have no rights because of your immigration status and that you 
  • Threatening to report you to the police or social services.
  • Putting rules in place on how you are to do things.
  • Making you feel like a bad parent, telling the children not to listen to you
  • Threatening to abuse your children or your pets or take them away, with the intention of controlling or hurting you.
  • Isolating you from family and friends: blaming your family or friends for your relationship problems, 
  • Threatening to self-harm or commit suicide if you leave 
  • Blaming you for all your relationship problems

Financial abuse 

  • Refusing to provide money for necessary or shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, medical care, or medicine.
  • Providing an allowance and closely monitoring how you spend it, including demanding receipts for purchases
  • Controlling your money or other financial assets
  • Spending your money
  • Forging your signature on legal or financial documents
  • Putting debt in your name
  • Damaging /Stealing your possessions or property
  • Withholding child maintenance payments
  • Preventing you from accessing education or work
  • Interfering with your employment by using tactics such as excessive calls to work, creating conflict with colleagues and causing you to miss work through threats or physical abuse.
  • Refusing to work yet adding to your expenses.

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse can also occur within an intimate partner relationship.

  • Control-oriented leadership over spouse 
  • demanding submission and using Scriptures to dominate, scold, shame and punish one’s partner
  •  uses religious texts or beliefs to minimize or rationalize abusive behaviour
  • ridicules or insults your religious or spiritual beliefs, using it sometimes to manipulate or shame you 
  • prevents you from practicing your religious or spiritual belief
  • forcing you to attend religious gatherings
  • forces the children to be raised in a faith that the other partner has not agreed to
  • shames or punishes you for not following a set of religious roles or set of rules.
  • silenced by your partner when you challenge a common ideology in their religion
  •  Calling your thoughts and opinions silly, wrong, or stupid, leading you to feel ashamed of having the audacity to think differently

Digital abuse

Digital abuse is the use of technology and the Internet to bully, harass, stalk, intimidate, or control a partner.

 This behaviour is often a form of verbal or emotional abuse conducted online

-sending excessive texts or messages to you in a way that is threatening 

-demanding the partner engage in sexting 

-monitoring your social media accounts, who you can be friends with 

-being embarrassed online 

Female genital mutilation FGM

    • Female genital mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.
    • It is a form of Child abuse
    • The practice has no health benefits for girls and women.
    • FGM can cause severe bleeding and problems urinating, and later cysts, infections, as well as complications in childbirth and increased risk of newborn deaths.
    • More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated (1).
    • FGM is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15.
  • FGM is a violation of the human rights of girls and women.
  • It is often performed by someone with no medical training, using instruments such as knives, scalpels, scissors, glass or razor blades 
  • It is used to control female sexuality and can cause long-lasting damage to physical and emotional health