I’m sure you know what domestic abuse is, but in case you don’t: it’s when one person in a relationship uses fear, manipulation, and/or physical force to control another person. Domestic abuse can happen between any two people who have an intimate relationship, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. While it may seem like domestic abuse happens only to women, the truth is that both men and women are victims of domestic violence — just in different ways. In this article we'll go over some common methods of control that abusers use against their partners so you can recognize them if they happen to show up in your life!


Isolation is a very common form of control in abusive relationships and can be used to create fear, shame, dependency and low self-esteem. An abuser will try to isolate their partner by limiting their contact with family and friends, monitoring their movements and preventing them from working or attending college. In some cases they will also stop them from having access to transportation by refusing to put petrol in the car or by selling it.

Isolation may include:

  • Preventing your partner from seeing friends or family - “I don’t want anyone else interfering in our relationship”
  • Limiting your access to the internet, phone calls or transportation - “You should spend more time with me than with your family”
  • Restricting access to bank accounts and other financial resources - “You are too stupid to handle money on your own! I want all the power over money in this house because it makes me feel like the man!”

If you feel that you have been isolated from others then there are things that can help you get out of an abusive relationship sooner rather than later. The first step would be reaching out for help from either a friend, family member or professional support service such as Women's Aid who offer free confidential phone services.

Intermittent Reinforcement

An abuser may use intermittent reinforcement to maintain control over their victim. It is a form of psychological manipulation that can be very confusing for the victim, as the abuser may reward them with affection or attention one day and then ignore them completely on another. The victim does not know what to expect from their abuser, which makes it difficult for them to change their behavior in order to avoid receiving negative attention.

If you are in an abusive relationship with someone who uses intermittent reinforcement, you may feel confused about whether or not your partner loves you. You may also fear losing your partner if they become angry at something that you do, or if they decide they no longer want to be with you because of something that happened while spending time together in public (e.g., making a comment about your appearance). Finally, this kind of abuse can make people feel like they need constant reassurance that their partners care about them—even after years together—which often leads friends and family members who might notice something strange going on between partners (such as constant fighting) not say anything because they don’t want this person becoming upset with him/herself either!

Trauma bonding / Stockholm Syndrome

Trauma bonding is a psychological phenomenon in which a victim bonds with the abuser. It can be a type of Stockholm Syndrome, or it can be an extreme form of another type of emotional abuse. In some cases, it may seem as if the victim has fallen in love with their abuser. However, this is not true love and does not involve genuine feelings for anyone but themselves; instead, trauma bonding occurs due to intense fear and desperation to survive on the part of victims who are being abused by their partner on a physical or emotional level.

Trauma bonding involves various elements that lead up to its formation:

  • The victim starts out feeling dependent on their partner because they have been taken away from everything familiar and put into an unfamiliar situation where they are now dependent upon someone else entirely (this step requires either physical imprisonment or isolation).
  • The next step involves making threats toward them until they become afraid enough that they cannot leave without risking death or severe injury (this step also requires either physical imprisonment or isolation).


The abuser's goal is to make the victim doubt their own memory and perception, as well as make them feel crazy. This tactic is used often in domestic abuse cases because it can cause the victim to stay in the relationship longer than they would have otherwise.

This form of control can be subtle or blatant. The abuser may use phrases like "You're just imagining things" or "You're too sensitive." They might also criticize your appearance, weight gain or loss, personality traits, friends and family members. They may try to convince you that your concerns about their behavior are unfounded by telling you that no one else cares about what happens between you two; after all, who would believe the word of someone so irrational?

Love Bombing

Love bombing is a term used to describe the behavior of an individual who shows extreme interest in another person, often within the first few days or weeks of becoming acquainted. Love bombing can be a form of manipulation and control by the abuser who may suddenly become very affectionate and attentive toward his or her partner, showering them with attention, affection and gifts. This behavior typically occurs when the abuser sees an opportunity to enter into a relationship with someone they want to control or exploit. The sudden change in their demeanor makes it difficult for victims to recognize what is happening.

Control over finances (monetary abuse)

Financial control is a form of abuse that can be used to influence your partner's behavior, keep them from leaving you and/or prevent them from getting a job. It is the most common way in which domestic violence occurs in heterosexual relationships.

Financial abuse can include:

  • Controlling what money is spent on and how it's spent, including withholding money and restricting access to bank accounts or credit cards
  • Forcing you to account for every penny spent by making you justify all purchases before giving approval or withholding approval entirely (even if there are funds available)
  • Blaming you for not earning enough money or working hard enough at work so that they can justify their own financial decisions (such as not paying bills)

There are many ways that a relationship can become abusive, and it usually starts out slowly.

There are many ways that a relationship can become abusive, and it usually starts out slowly. Whether you're newly dating or have been married for 20 years, there are subtle signs that your significant other is trying to exert control over you.

The first sign of abuse may be when your partner tries to make decisions for you—about where you'll go or what you should wear. If they make these decisions without asking how you feel about them, that's an early warning sign that something isn't right. Asking for your opinion can actually be empowering because it shows respect for your ability to think independently and make choices based on what makes sense to YOU!


If you are in an abusive relationship, it is not your fault. Many people have no idea how to recognize the signs of domestic abuse, so don't be embarrassed if you didn't know what was going on. The best thing to do is seek help from authorities or friends who can help get you out of this situation before it's too late.