What is Domestic Violence?

No person has the right to threaten or physically assault another.

Violence can take many forms and is not only physical violence.

Verbal abuse

Verbal abuse is a form of psychological abuse. It consists of constant ‘put downs’, threats and insults which are demeaning and which can lead a woman to believe she is a worthless, useless human being. Being told that you are ugly, stupid, a terrible mother, a lousy lover or hopeless at housework are all forms of verbal abuse and is domestic violence.

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is often the most obvious form of abuse. It includes punches, shoves and slaps, attempting to choke or injure a woman in some way. The perpetrator may use a weapon or threaten to hurt or do something to ‘keep a woman in line’. Physical violence is a criminal act.

Social abuse

Social abuse occurs when a woman is not allowed to have contact with her family or her friends. Initially, when a couple meet, the woman may feel ‘special’ when the partner gives her undivided attention, and is very protective of her, especially if she is talking to, or has friends of, the opposite sex. Once the honeymoon phase of the relationship wears off, the woman finds she has lost contact with her friends and she has become socially isolated to the extent that she is not allowed to go out alone and she must tell her partner about every move she makes. The common factor in social abuse is that the man determines the woman’s social life.

Economic abuse

Economic abuse entails not having any money for personal use or having bills to pay but not being given enough money to pay them. Full control of the family’s finances by the male partner is economic abuse. The partner may not give any money to the woman for bills and expenses or personal use. He may even prevent her from becoming financially independent by stopping her from working.

Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse occurs when a man demands, threatens, pressures or coerces a woman to participate in any sexual activity of which the woman does not want to be a part.

Spiritual abuse

Spiritual abuse can be a potent form of control especially in families where culturally strong beliefs are held. An abuser can manipulate a partner by threatening that ‘God will get you if you sin’ by not complying with the abuser’s wishes. In some groups, sorcery threats are used in ‘pointing the bone’ which is believed to bring death in their culture. 

The combined emotional and psychological effects on the woman who receives

these various forms of abuse are extremely powerful.

The partner’s abuse aims to attack the woman’s self-identity – she sees herself as having no power. Due to social isolation enforced by her partner, a woman receives no information or support from her family or friends. She comes to believe that she is responsible for the abuse she receives. She often lives in fear that she cannot meet his demands which will result in attacks from her partner.


There are ways to tell if abuse is present in a relationship. Here are some questions a woman could ask herself if she suspects that she is being abused:

  • Do you often doubt your judgement or wonder if you are crazy?

  • Are you afraid of your partner at any time?

  • Do you refrain from expressing your opinion in fear of reprisals?

  • Have you developed fears of other people?

  • Do you ask your partner’s permission to spend money, become involved in activities outside the home, or socialize with friends?

  • Does your partner become easily angered and prone to mood swings?

  • Does your partner use force, threats or coercion to make you do things against your will?

  • Do you fear doing the ‘wrong thing’ or getting into trouble?

  • Have you lost confidence in your ability to cope with problems?

  • Are you increasingly depressed?

  • Do you feel trapped and powerless?




It is important to listen to your feelings because they can help you to know if the way you are being treated is ok or not.​


In a loving relationship you might feel:

  • Happy

  • Liked

  • Respected

  • Supported

  • Free

  • Safe

  • Able to be yourself

  • Cared for

In an abusive relationship you might feel:

  • Humiliated

  • Angry

  • Bad about yourself

  • Confused

  • Nervous

  • Guilty

  • Depressed

  • Scared

  • Trapped

If this sounds familiar – we can help you at Yemaya