In my line of work, I hear many stories of abuse every week. Over the years, I have noticed a pattern. Women will say to me, it was never physically abusive, but it was mental and emotional abuse.

Then they will go on to tell me things that happened to them while in their abusive relationship which can only be described as physical abuse. These are just some of the things I have been said to me:

  • ‘He used to push and shove me, but he never really hit me’
  • ‘He would block my path and refuse to let me leave a room, but I am lucky he never got physical’
  • ‘I would hide behind the furniture, and he would push it into me, but it must have been horrible being physical abused.’
  • ‘I used to get squeezed until I couldn’t breathe, but he never actually got violent’
  • ‘I often got things thrown at me, but he never meant to hit me.’
  • He’d stand over me if I was on the phone and snatch it away if it was someone he didn’t want me to talk to. I would have left earlier if it had got physical’
  • He would throw the dinner I made at me of the wall if he didn’t like it, but he never, ever hit me.’
  • He would drive really fast with the children in the car to the point it terrified me, but I knew he would never hurt me.

There is a perception that physical abuse is being punched or kicked, but does it really have to be that? Isn’t someone using their physical strength to threaten or intimidate their partner physical abuse.

According to Reach Out, physical abuse basically involves a person using physical force which causes, or could cause, harm.

Some types of physical abuse include:

  • Scratching or biting
  • Pushing or shoving
  • Slapping
  • Kicking
  • Choking or strangling
  • Throwing things
  • Forced feeding or denial of food
  • Use of weapons
  • Physical restraint (such as pinning against the wall, floor, bed etc.)
  • Reckless driving

The portrayal of physical abuse in the media is of someone being punch or kick usually resulting in a black eye. This image is so firmly lodge in our societal psyche we perceive it to be that and that alone.

Abuse in a relationship escalates, An, abuser’s minimisation and denial make it hard for people in the situation to recognise. By the time someone is being physically abused in any of the ways above it is hard to recognise that another line has been crossed. Understanding the dynamics of abuse and what constitutes physical abuse will help those living with domestic violence, friends, family and colleagues will be better equipped to help them