Domestic violence: How abusers use power to control victims

SAN ANTONIO – The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence details the ways abusers use power to control their victims. The San Antonio Police Department shares their information with victims or those at risk of domestic violence. Here are some of the definitions and examples of the tactics abusers may use:

WHAT IS VIOLENCE? Violence is not just hitting with a fist or getting hospitalized with an injury. It includes many different actions. Below is a list of different kinds of violence and some examples of each.

PHYSICAL VIOLENCE Any use of size, strength or presence to control or hurt someone else is physical violence. This can be divided into three parts.

Physical contact between people

  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Pinning against wall
  • Holding you against your will
  • Grabbing
  • Carrying you against your will
  • Slapping
  • Spanking
  • Punching with fist
  • Twisting arms
  • Hair pulling
  • Biting
  • Banging head on wall
  • Throwing you to floor
  • Throwing you to floor
  • Kneeing you
  • Strangling (choking you)
  • Kicking
  • Burning
  • Hitting you while pregnant
  • Backhanding
  • Standing, sitting on you
  • Attacking with object
  • Attacking with knife
  • Attacking with gun
  • Pushing you out of car
  • Trying to hit you with car
  • Forced sex

Physical use of objects

  • Throwing objects
  • Breaking personal items
  • Driving poorly to scare you
  • Slamming doors
  • Tearing clothes
  • Breaking car windshield
  • Punching walls
  • Sweeping things off table or dresser

Use of size or presence

  • Blocking doorway so you cannot leave
  • Standing behind car so you cannot leave
  • Taking the phone so you cannot call out
  • Taking car keys so you cannot leave
  • Clenching fist as if to hit you

VERBAL VIOLENCE This includes any use of words or voice to control or hurt another person

  • Yelling
  • Threats to use violence
  • Threatens to use violence against you or your family members
  • Being sarcastic
  • Threat to hurt kids
  • Threats to kill you
  • Threats to hurt pets
  • Calling you a whore, ugly, slut, fat, stupid, etc.
  • Accusations of having an affair
  • Insults


  • Following you, checking up on you
  • Threatening divorce
  • Threatening harm to self or suicide
  • Withholding sex
  • Preventing you from seeing family
  • Threats to take kids
  • Preventing you from working or school
  • Checking on you all the time
  • Criticizing you, laughing at you
  • Intense jealousy


  • Blowing your money on drugs or alcohol
  • Taking your credit cards, money, checkbook
  • Hiding financial assets
  • Questioning money use
  • Preventing you from working or school
  • Spending all your money

If you’re in a relationship and these examples apply to you, seek help immediately.

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