Examples of Abusive Behaviours

A partner or family member’s abusive and controlling behaviours are often very subtle in the beginning and gradually become more obviously abusive and controlling. Abuse is much more than physical violence, and is often harder to identify and understand when it is not physical.

Read about coercive control and entrapment.

Examples of abusive behaviours below may help if you are trying to understand what coercive control, intimate partner violence and family violence look like. But these are only some examples and there are many more not listed.

Abuse is...

  • Usually personalised to target the things or people a particular person holds most dear.
  • Likely to leave someone feeling confused, embarrassed, out of control, trapped and like there is no way to respond without being hurt or harmed.
  • Different behaviours depending on what the person using the behaviours is trying to achieve and how the behaviour impacts on the other person, which is why abuse is often so subtle and complex.

Below are just some examples of abusive behaviours.  Has someone close to you:

Coercive behaviours

Has someone been violent to you?

Hit, kicked, used weapons, pulled your hair, strangled you or stopped you breathing somehow, pushed you or held you down forcefully, threw things at you, held you hostage, raped you, forced you to engage in sexual acts you didn’t want to do, physically harmed you or your children, threatened to kill you and your children, forced you to undergo circumcision (genital mutilation)?

Intimidated you and made you frightened?

Threatened to hurt you or the children or other family and whānau members or loved ones, used a weapon against you, smashed things, hurt or killed a pet, drove dangerously with you in the car, kept one child when you left home to make you return, showed extreme jealousy every time you went out or spoke to someone else, threatened to leave you with nothing if you left them, threatened to out your Rainbow identity to others, threatened to take the children or commit suicide or withdraw support for your NZ visa if you try to leave, threatened to hurt or kill you if you bring shame to your family or community, forced you to marry someone?

Controlling behaviours

Isolated you?

Withheld money or something you needed, criticised your family/whānau or friends and tried to stop you from seeing them, turned your children or family/whānau or others close to you against you with lies or by sending emails or messages that look like they’re from you (hacking your online accounts), behaved rudely to or threatened your friends or family/whānau or work colleagues, otherwise destroyed your relationships with people close to you, took away or hid the car keys or your cell phone or your laptop, got jealous when you talked to other people, made you miss work or be late to work or otherwise sabotaged your employment, stopped you doing things that are important to you or that you enjoy, locked you in a room?

Controlled your everyday life, took away your ability to be independent?

Came with you wherever you went so you were never alone with anyone else, made contact with you repeatedly throughout the day and night to see what you’re doing and who you’re with, monitored your emails or social media or web browsing history, followed or stalked you or had other family/whānau members do this for them, asked the children what you’vee been doing, told you what to wear/not wear, how to behave/not behave, told you what and how to do everyday tasks, wouldn’t give you access to bank accounts or ownership/shared ownership of any assets, wouldn’t let you get an education or a job, wouldn’t let you drive or learn how to drive, wouldn’t allow you to have any information about household finances or be part of any financial decision making?

Took advantage of you or used you for selfish reasons?

Treated you like a slave, (your male partner) refused to do housework or cook or care for children because ‘it is women’s work’ or beneath him, made you work or sexually exploited you or made you commit crimes and took the money/profit, moved into your house, took over your belongings?

Took away or limited your access to basic needs, humiliated or embarrassed or gaslighted you (played mind games, made you think you’re going crazy)?

Made you ask permission to access basic needs like going to the toilet or buying sanitary products, put you on an allowance that was only or not enough for food for you and children to survive, called you names, swore at you, criticised or made you feel bad about how you look or what you wear, criticised how you parent your children, was rude or mean to your friends or family/whānau or to you in front of your children or others, uploaded nude or intimate photos or videos of you online without your consent, criticised your family/whānau or friends or culture or religion or religious beliefs or sexuality or gender identity or disability, shared or threatened to share things from your past with others to embarrass you, used guilt or forced you to do something you find shameful – like take drugs or commit crimes or get an abortion or perform sexual acts etc – then threatened to tell others, denied things happened that you remember or said things happened you don’t remember, secretly drugged you, broke into your house after you separated and took things or moved things around or vandalised your house?

No matter how it is done, domestic violence is not OK.

Everyone is entitled to safety, dignity and self-determination.