Patterns of abuse

The 8 patterns of abuse

These patterns of abuse are those defined by Amnesty International as torture.

During this information the perpetrator will be referred to as him/he and the victim will be referred to as her/she.  We do acknowledge that domestic abuse can happen to men and not just women.


The perpetrator will work at cutting off the victim’s contact with the outside world.   He will isolate their victim from family and friends.  He will make it difficult for the victim’s family and friends to visit.  He will take control of the victim’s phone and will control finances so that the victim will become dependent and reliant on him if they want or need something.  She may be locked in the house if he goes out to work and he may make her quit work or stop her from finding employment.  She may be told what clothes she can wear and how she can style her hair and make-up.  He will stop her from attending appointments and will tell people that she has mental health problems.

Enforcing Trivial Demands

He will make her do things in certain and specific ways such as insisting that she does the housework in a specific order or by using a toothbrush to clean the floor, getting her to cook meals for a certain time and to cook it in a certain way.  he may refuse to eat food that she has cooked that are not certain brands.  She may only be allowed to visit family or friends at a specific time and for an allotted amount of time.  He may force sexual demands on her.

Distorted Perspective

He will try and make her believe that he is right and and she is wrong and that his behaviour is acceptable because she has made him do it by not following his orders or by doing something wrong.  He will convince her that he only does it because he loves her, or he will say “I can’t help it”.  The perpetrator will tell her and make her believe that she is useless and would not be able to manage without him.  He will inform her that no one will believe her and that they will believe him.


He will make threats to make her fear him.  He may make threats to kill, to physically hurt someone, to have the children taken away, to find her if she leaves him and that he will leave her with nothing.  The threats to kill or physically harm could relate to him causing harm to her, her children, family, friends or pets.


To cause exhaustion the perpetrator may reguarly disrupt her sleep.  He may wake her to to do housework, to question and interrogate her, to sexually abuse her and to deprive her from rest.  He may make her do housework all hours of the day and in a very specific way.  He will cause exhaustion by constantly putting her down and degrading her.  If she has not been allowed to eat enough food that her body needs this can cause exhaustion also as well as the fact that she will constantly be on edge and weary of what he will do next.

Displays of Total Power

He will carry out certain acts to show her that he is the master and she is to obey him.  Displays of total power are yet another way for him to make her fear him and for her life.  Physical abuse comes into this catergory.  He will punch, kick, strangle, burn her, pull her hair, beat her any way he can.  He will also throw things, smash things up, yell and shout at her.  He will tell her that she will never be free of him.  He will use her family and friends against her and he will let her see the outside world but not let her be a part of it.  He will ignore her rights and her existence will be to serve him.  He will have “the look”.  She knows by this look that he has total power and control.


He will humiliate her by calling her names and abusing her in public.  He may deprive her of clothes, toiletries and stop her from showering or bathing so that her hygiene and appearance suffers.  He will tell her that she is fat, ugly, useless and that no body else will ever want her.  He will compare her to other women and make her feel inferior.  He may make her sleep on the floor, or eat from a dog bowl or eat out of date food.  He may taunt her during intimate moments and degrade her sexually.

Occasional Indulgences

The occasional indulgences are to give her false hope that he will change, or to make her believe he is sorry.  He may buy her things, let her see family and friends, He may take her on holiday or show her affection.  He will be attentive and ‘loving’ as he did when they first met and he will give her false hope that he will stop the violence.



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