Abuse can be but isn’t always physical.

Imagine waking up in the morning, your clothes laid out for you, your daily message says, “Text me when you make it to work.” But it isn’t a nice message, it’s a threat. Imagine coming home five minutes late and sitting in the driveway shaking in fear, knowing that you will be yelled at. Imagine going out with a friend for coffee just to be followed, your partner calling you dozens of times and waiting for you to leave. Imagine asking, “Can I go see my mom this weekend?” and being told, “No, we’ve been over this. I don’t like your mother, or the rest of your family for that matter.” Imagine they never lay a hand on you, but you are still miserable, you are still being abused.

Power and Control

Domestic violence is truly the presence of power and control in a relationship where one individual—an abuser—manipulates another individual—a survivor—through various means to control them so they remain in that relationship. Healthy relationships are based on mutual respect which typically does not exist in domestic violence relationships. The power and control wheel—created by a domestic violence shelter in Duluth, Minnesota—is used by centers like CASA across the country to give people a picture of what power and control really looks like in violent relationships.

Different Types of Abuse


Physical abuse occurs when one individual uses their body in order to inflict intentional harm or injury upon another person. This form of abuse is obviously quite damaging and can cause long-term effects.

Psychological or Emotional

This form of abuse is inflicted in many different ways, such as isolating a survivor from friends and family so an abuser is their only resource, breaking promises repeatedly, threatening or taunting a survivor, degrading, attacking vulnerabilities, ignoring feelings, threatening to leave or end the relationship constantly as a means of control, and more.

Gaslighting—which is when an abuser blames the survivor for abuse or makes them feel crazy for being upset—is a common manifestation of this form of abuse.


Verbal abuse is some sort of verbal interaction that causes a person emotional harm, feelings of grave distress, or self-loathing. It often prompts survivors of this form of abuse to question who they are or if they have value outside of the person who is inflicting this form of abuse.


When the abuser controls finances, access to money, or the survivor’s ability to get or maintain employment. Financial abuse may also require a survivor to turn in any earned money or may keep their name off of financial documents and accounts entirely.


Digital abuse occurs when technology is used as a tool to bully, harass, stalk, or intimidate a survivor. When an abuser uses technology or social media to closely monitor a survivor’s digital presence or accounts to maintain control over them, this is also digital abuse.


Sexual abuse is unwanted sexual activity in which an abuser will use force, threats, or coercion to take advantage of someone without their consent. Contrary to common misconceptions, sexual abuse usually occurs between two individuals who know each other, and it happens quite often within the context of relationships.


When the abuser uses religious passages or beliefs to reinforce abuse and manipulates a survivor’s religious beliefs, this is religious or spiritual abuse. Also, refusing to allow someone to attend church or spiritual gatherings, or claiming the survivor is unwanted or unloved by their higher power to maintain power and control over them, belittling or preventing a partner from participating in their beliefs, practices, and traditions or forcing them to participate in their practices when they do not share the same beliefs are other ways this form of abuse are used.

Cultural or Identity

Cultural or identity abuse happens when an abuser tries to control the survivor’s identity or gender expression. Examples are using wrong names or wrong pronouns or refusing to allow a survivor to wear culturally significant items or participate in culturally significant events. It is also when the abuser threatens to out the survivor to their family.

Get Help

If you are experiencing any form of violence and are in need of support, please reach out to us at our confidential 24/7 hotline: (727) 895-4912. You can also email info@casapinellas.org with questions.

If you know someone experiencing abuse, our 24/7 hotline is also for you! Navigating how and when to talk to someone you love who might be experiencing domestic violence or coming up with “the right thing” to say is hard. Call us at (727) 895-4912 to safety plan with a confidential advocate or for emotional support.