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Three Lesser-Known Forms of Abuse Found in Intimate Partner Relationships


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People often think of physical abuse when they think about who may reach out to a women’s shelter for help; however, there are a number of different types of abuse that can occur within a relationship. Some forms are easier to identify than others, but all of them can have equally detrimental impacts.


The financial and emotional stress that has been brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic puts many women and children at an increased risk of abuse. During this time of physical distancing, it’s important to reach out to your friends and family members and let them know that while they may be isolated, they are not alone. Read on to learn about three lesser-known types of abuse and their warning signs.


1. Spiritual Abuse

Spiritual abuse revolves around a person’s spirituality or religion. Within an intimate partner relationship, spiritual abuse may take the following forms:

  • Insulting or shaming a partner for their spiritual beliefs

  • Preventing a partner from practicing their religion and/or forcing them to switch religions

  • Forcing a child to be raised in a religion that the other partner has not agreed to

A person of any belief system is capable of perpetrating spiritual abuse. Spiritual abuse can be hard to identify, but that doesn’t make it less harmful than other forms of abuse. A person’s spirituality is deeply personal, and an attack on it is a very real threat.


2. Financial Abuse

Financial abuse occurs when one partner controls the other partner’s access to economic resources and can include:

  • Preventing a partner from working

  • Restricting access to bank accounts

  • Hiding assets

  • Maxing out a partner’s credit card to create debt and therefore, dependence on the abusive partner

Not having control or access to any financial resources can make it feel near impossible to leave a relationship.


3. Technological Abuse

Abusive partners will often use technology as a way to control, monitor, and harass. Some common forms of technological abuse include:

  • Requiring a partner to share all their passwords and online information with the other. Once armed with this information, abusers may post embarrassing things to the accounts or reach out to friends to try and get information or ruin relationships.

  • Limiting who a partner can and can’t be friends with on social media

  • Installing tracking software to monitor someone’s whereabouts

  • Threatening to post private information as a means of control

During the COVID-19 crisis, technology has been a lifeline for many. Abusers may also limit access to technology and therefore limit a woman’s access to critical information.


While physical violence is very much a reality of intimate partner violence, abusive relationships often start with power and control issues. By learning about some lesser-known forms of abuse, we paint a clearer picture of the barriers women may face.


For support and resources, call our crisis line 24/7 at (613) 234-5181. You can also reach out by text or online chat by visiting unsafeathomeottawa.ca.

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