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Domestic Violence = More Than Bruises

When someone says “domestic violence” we tend to imagine bruises.
Split lips.
Black eyes.
Physical assault.

But there are actually twelve types of domestic violence, all fueled by the core mindset of entitlement to abuse power over others. Only one of these types of abuse generally leaves bruises. All of them are damaging and misrepresent the character of God.

  • Do you feel scared, isolated, confused, off-balance, betrayed, and like you never know what’s coming next?
  • Do you find yourself second-guessing what you know you’ve seen, heard, or felt because someone else makes you doubt yourself and feel like you’re crazy?
  • Does your intimate partner do hurtful things and then say sorry, make up, and promise to never repeat it… until the next time?

All of these may be signs that you are experiencing other forms of domestic violence. When you’re in the middle of an abusive situation, sometimes it’s hard to recognize the signs. 

Here are some of the red flags that can indicate domestic violence situations in twelve different ways:

1) Child Abuse

  • threatening to harm children
  • threatening to take children away
  • refusing to comply with child support
  • using children as leverage
  • belittling you in front of children
  • using children to keep you silent
  • abusing your children

2) Cultural Abuse

  • using culture as an excuse for mistreatment 
  • putting down your culture
  • forcing you to accept or embrace his culture
  • isolating you from mainstream cultural practices
  • using culture to keep you silent
  • using language barriers to isolate you
  • not providing translation when you can’t understand

3) Emotional Abuse

  • incessant teasing
  • invalidating your feelings
  • using guilt to manipulate you
  • blame you for everything
  • acting jealous (calling it protective)
  • threatening you
  • withholding affection
  • waking you up from sleep
  • stalking your whereabouts
  • stalking your social media/electronic devices
  • giving you the silent treatment

4) Financial Abuse

  • limiting your access to money
  • not sharing bank accounts
  • requiring an account of every penny spent
  • making you ask for spending money
  • controlling the income and cashflow
  • making financial decisions without you
  • closing accounts without telling you
  • creating debt you didn’t agree with or know about
  • wasting resources
  • not paying child support
  • taking care of their own needs but neglecting yours or the children’s
  • calling welfare to interfere with income
  • confiscating your income or cash

5) Intellectual Abuse

  • saying you’re over-sensitive
  • saying you’re crazy
  • manipulating information or facts
  • attacking your ideas
  • devaluing your opinions 
  • demanding perfection 
  • playing head games
  • making you prove things
  • shaming your tastes
  • insulting your education
  • dumbing you down

6) Pets & Property Abuse

  • destroying property
  • breaking or smashing things
  • punching walls
  • slamming doors
  • hurting pets
  • damaging your car
  • confiscating your car keys
  • keeping your identification or Driver’s License
  • controlling your access to GPS or computers/phones
  • selling items w/o telling you
  • keeping cash from selling your things
  • threatening to do any of the above

purple+ribbon+DV+Domestic+Violence+Awareness+sarah+mcdugal+speaker+author+coach7) Physical Abuse

  • driving too fast or recklessly
  • slapping or hitting
  • kicking, punching, or biting
  • pinching or twisting
  • restraining you
  • choking you
  • spitting on you
  • intimidating you with actions or gestures
  • throwing things at you
  • using items other than hands to hurt you
  • locking you out of the house
  • making you sleep outside
  • blocking exits, not letting you leave

8) Psychological Abuse

  • saying things and then denying it later (gaslighting)
  • intimidating you with words or gestures or actions
  • displaying weapons 
  • threatening to commit suicide
  • threatening to hurt you
  • threatening to kill you
  • minimizing actions or threats after the fact
  • making it sound like you misunderstood or made it up
  • controlling your access to food
  • dictating what you eat
  • using gestures or body language to control you through fear

9) Sexual Abuse

  • using pornography
  • demanding that you use pornography
  • demanding sex as payment
  • withholding sex
  • criticizing your body sexually
  • comparing your sexuality to others
  • having an affair
  • threatening to have an affair
  • forcing sex
  • manipulating sex
  • sexual put-downs
  • sexually abusing others

10) Social Abuse

  • isolating you from friends
  • isolating you from family
  • monitoring your phone calls
  • monitoring your emails/social media
  • monitoring your mileage
  • controlling who you are allowed to see or talk to
  • controlling your freedom to work
  • controlling your freedom to get education
  • keeping you at home
  • not allowing equal access to social interaction
  • telling you not to talk about your relationship with other people 

11) Spiritual Abuse

  • using scripture to excuse abusive behavior
  • using scripture to manipulate you
  • twisting scripture to gain power
  • putting down your beliefs
  • isolating you from your faith community
  • using his church to his advantage over you
  • refusing to get counseling
  • dictating who you are allowed to see for counseling
  • using scripture to keep you silent
  • soul-destroying behaviors

12) Verbal Abuse

  • calling you names
  • swearing at you
  • yelling or screaming
  • using sarcasm to put you down
  • being condescending
  • insulting you
  • body shaming you
  • cutting you off in conversation 
  • telling you to be quiet around other people
  • intimidating you 

13) Power Abuse Lies at the Core of All 12 Types of Domestic Violence

  • creates chaos and conflict by turning people against each other, misrepresenting situations
  • twists past events to gain control 
  • credit hog — acts like they get everything done, doesn’t give healthy credit where it’s due
  • delusions of grandeur, believes they are smarter/wiser/stronger/richer/more powerful than they are
  • refuses to get counseling, refuses to allow spouse to get counseling
  • projecting addictions as spouse’s fault w/o taking responsibility
  • racist/elitist — diminishes/ridicules culture, color, gender, age, status —believes own identity is superior
  • obsessed with being “respected”, may get aggressive to peers/children/elderly if acting with “disrespect”
  • entitled, act as if they’re better than others, others should give way to their preferences, others should take care of their needs 

For a handy reference, download this Power and Control Wheel:

sarah+mcdugal+author+speaker+leadership+coach+abuse+recovery+power+control+wheel+gender neutral
Domestic Violence Power & Control Wheel

If you are experiencing any of these 12 types of domestic violence and your church isn’t listening, there is help!
If you are physically afraid, please call the National DV Hotline at: 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). If you need to flee a dangerous environment, they can direct you to your nearest shelter. 

If you are a pastor or church leader, there is someone in your church who is experiencing these forms of abuse, and they need your compassion, support, and tangible help.

If you know someone who might be in an abusive situation, please share this post and connect them with my videos and resources to help them gradually understand what is happening to them.

If you are just beginning to realize that you’re in an abusive environment and you want help to find healing, get connected with faith-based counselors and coaches here: www.abidecounseling.us.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, and this post is one of a series providing resources addressing DV in the faith community. Increase your knowledge and understanding with fact videos, articles, live presentations, bible studies, and encouraging music playlists from Sarah McDugal on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram.

More than anything else, I want to support you in your journey toward healing as you leave your wilderness behind and learn to #liveWILD!


Here are 3 quick ways you can keep this content coming:
  1. Like + Follow Sarah McDugal on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for resources, videos, and valuable information!
  2. Like + Follow Bucket Brigade on Facebook to show your support for survivors of abuse in church communities, and join Bucket Brigade Ambassadors, an open Facebook group, for helpful videos and articles.
  3. Give to the Bucket Brigade Fundraiser to support volunteer concerned care practitioners who help abuse victims find justice.

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