Defining Abuse


Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. 

Who is affected by abuse? 

Abuse affects people of all cultures, races, genders, occupations, income levels, ages, abilities, and sexual orientations.




Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a pattern of assault and coercive behaviors, used to attain power over another person. This violence takes many forms and can happen once in a while or all the time. Although each situation is different, there are common warning signs or red-flag behaviors to look out for, including those listed in the power and control wheel (below). Knowing these signs is an important step in preventing and stopping violence.

Teen Dating Violence

Dating Abuse (like domestic violence) is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner. Abuse affects all types of relationships, not just long-term or committed relationships. However, often violence that happens between dating teens is viewed/addressed differently than abuse in a relationship between two cohabitating or intimately involved adults.

Sexual Violence

Sexual Violence is forced, manipulated, or coerced sexual activity. It includes any non-consensual sexual advance; such as sexual assault, rape, exposure, and sexual harassment. Men and women can commit acts of sexual violence, and the perpetrator can be someone you know such as a friend, spouse, teacher or acquaintance, or a stranger. Sexual Violence is not about love or sex; the act is motivated by the need to have power and control.

Stalking is unwanted pursuit, contact, intimidation, or harassment with the attempt to make a person afraid. New Beginnings work focuses on assisting victims of current or former intimate partner stalking.


Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking is the title given to a wide range of acts that involve human beings being transported to another location (either another country or another part of their home country) and forced to commit actions against their will. Anyone at any age from any country can be involved in human trafficking, even citizens of New Hampshire.


Types of Abuse


Physical and sexual assaults are the most obvious forms of abuse and are typically what makes the problem apparent. However, physical violence is only a portion of the larger system of abuse used to maintain power and control over an intimate or dating partner's life. 

The Power and Control Wheel demonstrates how an abuser uses different tactics and aspects of a person's life to maintain control over their partner. It is common that violent, physical acts are accompanied by one or more of these other forms of abuse. Other forms of abuse are less easily identified than physical violence, but still play a significant part of creating a pattern of abuse. In order to make identifying forms of abuse more easily we have included descriptions and examples below.


Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is any type of abuse that harms a person's body or threatens harming a person physically; this includes loved ones and pets.

Some examples include:

  • preventing you from eating or sleeping
  • keeping you from getting medical care
  • withholding medication
  • using or threatening to use a weapon
  • harming an animal
  • hitting, pushing, slapping, kicking, pinching, and/or biting
  • holding you captive 
  • breaking down a door or wall to get to you 
  • locking you out of the house 
  • running your car off the road 



Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is the same as sexual violence; while sexual violence happen to people both in and out of relationships by strangers or people they know, sexual abuse refers to an intimate partner using sex or sexual heath as a way to maintain power over their partner.

Sexual abuse in relationships can include your partner:

  • withholding or forcing you to take birth control against your desire
  • forcing/convincing you to have a hysterectomy/vasectomy even if you don't want to
  • forcing you to have sex with other partners
  • insisting on doing anything sexual that frightens you
  • name calling with derogatory sexual terms
  • forcing you to have sex with someone for money or engage in pornography
  • filming you having sex without your permission

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse, also referred to as psychological abuse or mental abuse, includes actions an abuser uses to make their partner feel afraid, isolated, and/or controlled without physically harming them. Emotional abuse is just as harmful to someone as physical abuse; even if your partner has never physically harmed you, it can still be an abusive relationship.

Some examples of emotional abuse are when your partner:

  • monitors what you are doing constantly
  • unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family
  • gets angry in a way that frightens you
  • humiliates you in front of others
  • regularly disregards your feelings or opinions
  • makes you feel like you are crazy
  • tells you what you can or can't wear
  • regularly points out your flaws or shortcomings

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse is when your partner uses language or their tone of voice to make you feel worthless or upset.

Your partner may be verbally abusive if they regularly:

  • make derogatory comments about a group that you belong to (gender, career, belief, etc.)
  • make fun of or insult your ideas and opinions
  • make negative comments about your hobbies or your friends
  • engage you in conversations about things on which you disagree until you give up and agree with them
  • call you demeaning names
  • yell, swear, or scream at you
  • make you feel like you can't talk to them about certain subjects
  • give you the silent treatment
  • accuses you of being "too sensitive" when you get upset with something they said

Economic Abuse

Economic abuse, also referred to as financial abuse, is when someone limits their partner's access to finances or controls their partner's capability to earn a personal income.

Some examples of economic abuse are:

  • forbidding you to work
  • sabotaging employment by stalking or harassing you at your workplace
  • not allowing you to access bank accounts
  • withholding money or giving you an allowance
  • not including you in banking or investment decisions
  • forbidding you to attend job training, educational opportunities, or advancement opportunities
  • Incurring large amounts of debt on joint accounts
  • refusing to work or contribute to the family income
  • stealing your identity, property, or inhertance

Technology Abuse

Technology Abuse, or digital partner violence, is the use of technologies such as cell-phones, computers, and location technologies to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online, through texts, calls, etc. It may also include stalking behavior aided by technology.

You may be experiencing digital abuse if your partner:

  • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished
  • Tells you who you can or can’t be friends with, follow, etc. on social networking sites
  • Sends you negative, insulting, or even threatening texts, emails, tweets, etc.
  • Steals or insists to be given your passwords
  • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram to keep constant tabs on you
  • Knows where you are/what you’re doing even when it seems they have no means of knowing
  • Puts you down in their status updates, tweets, etc.
  • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures/video and demands you send some in return
  • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts, and calls
  • Tags you unkindly in pictures on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
  • Shares private texts or pictures online or sends them to others without permission

Learn More


If you are interested in learning more about how abuse effects specific populations click on the buttons below!


People with Disabilities


Male Victims/Survivors




People of Color

Elder Abuse