Cover your tracks

Types of Abuse

Coercive Control 

Coercive Control is a overarching strategy used by the perpetrator to remove personhood using a range of physical and non-physical behaviours intended to cause fear and obtain control in intimate partner relationships. It is an attack on autonomy, liberty and eqaulity that often results in entrapment for women.

Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety. (2021). Defining and responding to coercive control: Policy brief (ANROWS Insights,
01/2021). Sydney: ANROWS.

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse happens when one person uses force or threatens to use force against another person. This might include:

  • slapping, punching, kicking, shaking, pushing, or scratching
  • spitting or biting
  • strangling or choking
  • physically restraining (eg holding against a wall)
  • detaining against will (eg locking in the house and not allowing to leave)
  • using weapons
  • damaging or threatening to damage property
  • abusing children or pets
  • sleep or food deprivation

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any type unwanted or non-consensual sexual activity that is forced on a person physically, or by coercion or intimidation. This might include:

  • rape
  • forced sex without protection against pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • forcing someone to perform sexual acts
  • unwanted touching
  • using sexually degrading insults
  • telling suggestive or expletive jokes
  • unwanted exposure to pornography
  • withholding sex as punishment
  • using sex to coerce compliance

Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse affects a person’s mental health. It is used by a perpetrator to control the other person by taking away their confidence or independence, lessening their self-esteem. The target may begin to blame themselves for the abuse. Because emotional abuse does not leave scars, it is sometimes difficult to identify. Emotional abuse might include:

  • name calling or making demeaning comments
  • threatening self-harm or suicide
  • threatening harm to children or animals or damage to property
  • controlling another’s activities or dress
  • withholding interaction – excluding or failing to speak to the other for extended periods
  • isolating from family, friends or support networks
  • blackmail
  • stalking – including following, constant texting, cyber stalking via social media or location apps

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse includes statements intended to humiliate a person including:

  • name-calling
  • continuous criticism, swearing and humiliation in public or in private
  • attacks on someone’s intelligence, body or parenting
  • yelling

Financial Abuse

Financial abuse is when the perpetrator controls bank accounts or spending money. This might include:

  • total control of finances and money
  • restricting access to bank accounts
  • providing an inadequate allowance (household and personal)
  • monitoring what a person spends money on
  • forbidding the person to work
  • taking the person’s pay and not allowing them to access it
  • preventing them from getting to work by taking their keys or car
  • identity theft to secure credit
  • using the person’s credit card without their permission
  • refusing to work or contribute to household expenses

Social Abuse

Social Abuse is when the perpetrator prevents the other person from spending time with family and friends, or from participating in social activities causing isolation. This might include:

  • monitoring the other person’s phone calls and emails
  • dictating who the other person can talk to or spend time with
  • continuously criticising the other’s friends and family
  • not allowing the other person to interact with neighbours
  • moving the other person away so they cannot visit family or friends
  • verbally and/or physically abusing them in public or in front of other people

Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse is denying or using spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to control another person. Spiritual abuse might include:

  • preventing the other person from practicing their religion or to act against their spiritual or religious obligations
  • misusing spiritual or religious beliefs and practices to justify other types of abuse and violence
  • forcing the other person to practice spiritual or religious activities
  • ridiculing or undermining the other person’s understanding of religious practices or beliefs

Acknowledgment to Country 

IFYS acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the Australian land and sea. We pay our respects to Elders, past and present. We acknowledge the Traditional Owners' enduring cultures and traditions, and honour their continuing connection to family, country and community.