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Different types of gendered abuse

2 minutes

Violence against women is violence that is directed against a woman, because she is a woman, or that affects women disproportionately.

Violence against women is a broad term which includes domestic violence, family violence and sexual harassment and assault. 

It happens in homes, in social and recreational contexts, on the street, in workplaces, schools and online. The perpetrator is most often known to the victim.

Australian women’s experience of violence

  • 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence since the age of 15
  • 1 in 5 women have experienced sexual violence since the age of 15
  • 1 in 4 women have experienced at least one incident of non-physical abuse from a partner since the age of 15.

Violence against women is not just physical

Women experience physical and sexual violence. But perpetrators can use a range of other abusive behaviours to manipulate, coerce, control, threaten and harm victims. All forms of abuse can have significant and long-term health and wellbeing, economic and social impacts on victims.  

Abusive behaviours that are non-physical include technological, financial, social, spiritual and emotional abuse.

Technological abuse  

  • Sending nude or embarrassing images of a partner to other people. 
  • Tracking a partner’s whereabouts using a phone or GPS device without consent. 
  • Accessing a partner’s private messages or conversations. 
  • Posting messages from a partner’s accounts. 
  • Using technology to send unwanted images or messages. 

Financial abuse 

  • Not allowing a partner to have debit/credit cards or access to bank accounts.
  • Not giving a partner access to shared bank accounts.
  • Spending or borrowing a partner’s money without their knowledge or agreement.
  • Forcing a partner to quit their job or lose their income.
  • Holding back funds for necessities like food, medication, or disability-related equipment.

Social abuse 

  • Stopping a partner from seeing certain people or groups of people. 
  • Forcing a partner to live far away from family or friends. 
  • Sabotaging a partner’s relationships or damaging their reputation. 
  • Deliberately embarrassing a partner in front of other people. 

Spiritual abuse 

  • Stopping a partner from visiting their place of worship or spiritual community. 
  • Not allowing a partner to practice their beliefs and customs. 
  • Forcing a partner to practice beliefs or customs which they don’t believe in. 
  • Shaming a partner for not practising their beliefs strictly enough. 
  • Using spiritual beliefs to justify abuse or harmful behaviour. 

Emotional abuse 

  • Verbal aggression and fits of rage. 
  • Blackmail, including threatening to leave a partner or to harm people or pets.
  • Regularly teasing or putting someone down to damage a partner’s self-worth. 
  • ‘Gaslighting’ or tricking and lying to make a partner question their own sanity. 
  • Constantly correcting or criticising to diminish a partner’s confidence. 

Detailed facts and statistics

What abuse can look like