Abuse, by definition, is any type of cruel or violent treatment of one person by another person. In relationships, abuse is a way of gaining and maintaining power and control.
When people think about abuse, they sometimes believe this always includes physical harm, and if their partner isn’t physically hurting them, they must not count as a person in an abusive relationship.
However, abuse can take many forms. It can include financial control, emotional, mental and psychological abuse, sexual abuse, or stalking. Even after two people break up or divorce, post-separation abuse can be prolonged through over-use of the court system or child custody exchanges.
Many survivors of abuse might not be able to name the ways in which their partner exacts power and control over their life, but using the Duluth Model Power and Control Wheel can help identify common abuse tactics.