What are the four types of abuse?

The four (4) main types of child abuse according to Medical News Today are:

  • Physical abuse, which includes hitting, and other physical acts of violence as well as withholding food, sleep, or medication.

  • Emotional abuse, which includes verbal abuse such as bullying and ridicule, shouting and threats, as well as "emotional blackmail" and the "silent treatment."

  • Sexual abuse, which includes all types of sexual abuse that is both physical and verbal as well as any grooming behaviors for future abuse.

  • Neglect, which includes not meeting a child's basic needs such as food, clothing, and shelter as well as leaving a child unattended for too long, or placing the child in dangerous situations.

When discussing abuse more broadly for all ages, there are even more types of recognized abuse. In addition to physical, emotional, and sexual abuse and neglect mentioned above, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services also lists the following types of abuse with concern to vulnerable adults:

  • Exploitation, defined as taking advantage of vulnerable individuals, for example, by illegally withdrawing money from their bank account.

  • Self-neglect, which occurs when an adult does not or is unable to properly care for themselves.

  • Abandonment, which similar to neglect, leaves the individual without basic care or having their basic needs met, but to a more extreme or permanent degree. 

When looking specifically at abuse in domestic partnerships, domestic violence advocacy groups such as Reach, categorize the types of domestic abuse under six main types:

  1. Physical abuse

  2. Sexual abuse

  3. Verbal/emotional abuse

  4. Mental/psychological abuse

  5. Financial/economic abuse

  6. Cultural/identity abuse 

While verbal/emotional and mental/psychological abuse could all fit under the umbrella of "emotional abuse," Reach and other advocacy groups separate them into these distinct categories because it is possible to have aspects of one without the other and vice versa.

Financial abuse can include controlling a partner's finances and bank accounts, as well as taking on debt in the partner's name. Cultural abuse could include using racial slurs towards a partner, not allowing them to practice their faith or dietary restrictions, or using a partner's language barrier to further control and isolate them. 

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