Abuse involves treating someone using violence, being disrespectful, cruel, inducing harm, or using force. When someone treats their partner in such a manner- it is called an abusive relationship. Contrary to the popular belief that men cannot be victims of abuse, anyone can find themselves in an abusive relationship, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation.

Popular media make us believe that abuse can only be physical- but there are various forms of violence, including psychological, emotional, sexual, financial, and digital abuse. Some of these are more difficult to detect than others, but they are equally critical. Unequal control and power lead to abusive and unhealthy relationships.

Some types of abuse in relationships are:

  • Anger
  • Jealousy
  • Isolation
  • Pressure
  • Lies
  • Blame
  • Manipulation
  • Threats

Types of Abuse In Relationships

What is physical abuse?

Physical abuse is intentional and unwanted contact with your body by another person. It can be painful, leave a bruise, or cause an injury- but it doesn't always do so. All forms of physical abuse are critical. Some physical signs of an abusive relationship are:

  • Scratching, hitting, biting, burning, or kicking your body
  • Throwing objects even if they don't hit you
  • Using a gun, knife, bat, or any other weapon to threaten you
  • Pulling the hair
  • Choking or strangling
  • Grabbing your face
  • Hitting or touching the private parts without consent

What is psychological abuse?

Psychological abuse- also known as mental, verbal, or emotional abuse- includes non-physical forms of violence such as threats, insults, defamatory statements, excessive texting, frequent calling, or stalking. Some people say psychological abuse is not as serious as physical abuse, but we all know that isn't true. Signs of psychological abuse are:

  • Shouting and screaming at you
  • Intentionally humiliating you in public
  • Preventing from talking to friends and family
  • Frequently keeping a check on their movement
  • Uses online platforms to control the victim
  • Accusing of cheating
  • Threatening to harm themselves
  • Spreading rumours about you
  • Controlling what you wear

What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse refers to unwanted sexual contact, coercing someone to perform a sexual act, or sexual contact when someone cannot control their sexual activity (intoxicated or passed out). Even if someone does not outrightly say no or does not resist this contact, that doesn't mean they consent. Someone may not resist for several reasons, like being intoxicated, unconscious, or feeling threatened.

Just because someone has consented to a sexual act initially does not mean they can't change their mind during the act or the next time. A few examples of sexual abuse are:

  • Any wanted sexual contact like kissing, touching, or penetration
  • Sexual contact with someone who cannot understand consent, like someone who is intoxicated, unconscious, or a minor
  • Using threats or bribing someone to perform sexual favours
  • Using physical force or a weapon to make someone perform sexual acts
  • Sexually insulting someone
  • Pressuring a partner to perform sexual acts on someone else
  • Restrict the use of condoms or birth control

What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse refers to controlling someone's finances and restricting their right to buy something. In a country like India, where heteronormative marriages are the norm, most women are homemakers, and this type of abuse is quite common. As society views the husband as the 'provider' and 'breadwinner' of the family, he uses his authority to control his wife financially. Financial abuse is also one of the signs of a controlling relationship. Forms of financial signs of an abusive relationship are:

  • Maximum use of credit cards without permission
  • Refusing to give money to spend on food, clothing, or medicine
  • Preventing someone from working or limiting working hours
  • Restricts from checking bank statements of a shared account

What is digital abuse?

Digital abuse occurs when a partner uses technology to bully, control, stalk or harass one's partner. Technology can be a great way to stay in touch and connect with people you care about. Your partner should not control how you use your technology or use technology to control you. Digital violence includes the following types of situations:

  • Restricting someone from making friends on social media.
  • Managing social sites to keep track of someone.
  • Sending or demanding unwanted or vulgar pictures.
  • Stealing someone's passwords
  • Constantly texting someone
  • Using GPS or spyware to monitor someone's actions

Getting help

If you are experiencing abuse in India, the following sites provide essential resources to find the help you need all over India.


Swayam is a feminist organization aimed to advance the rights of women and girls by ending discrimination and violence. Through their research and awareness programme, they work on challenging the societal norms and values that exist in our society.


Naaree is a part of SHEROES; a women-only social network meant to empower women in India. Although the list states that it is a women's domestic violence helpline, it also can work as a men's domestic violence helpline as violence does not distinguish its victims based on their genders.

Aks Foundation

Although this is a Pune based NGO, Aks Foundation provides support to victims all over the country.