What is abuse? How can I identify an abuser? How can I tell if I’m the abuser?

Our definition of abuse: A pattern of coercive control (ongoing actions or inactions) that proceeds from a mentality of entitlement to power, whereby, through intimidation, manipulation and isolation, the abuser keeps his* target subordinated and under his control.

Key phrases:

  • mentality of entitlement
  • pattern of coercive control
  • power and control

The pattern can be emotional, verbal, psychological, spiritual, sexual, financial, social and physical. Not all these elements need be present, e.g., physical abuse may not be part of it.

Coercive control is a pattern of behaviour which seeks to take away the victim’s liberty or freedom, to strip away their sense of self. It is not just the person’s bodily integrity which is violated but also their human rights.

Traditionally, domestic violence (domestic abuse) has been understood to be an incident or series of incidents of physical violence perpetrated by a partner or ex-partner.  Indeed, sometimes it is understood to be a fight or a conflict between partners. This is a grave misconception. Learn more here: What is coercive control?

Definition of a domestic abuser: a family member or dating partner (current or ex) who has a profound mentality of entitlement to the possession of power and control over the one s/he* chooses to mistreat. This mentality of entitlement defines the very essence of the abuser. The abuser believes he is justified in using evil tactics to obtain and maintain that power and control.

We have these definitions in our sidebar, as they are vital to all our work.


Defining domestic abuse by a list of behaviors in never going to capture it

Signs of an abusive relationship — where the abuse is hard to recognize

Episode 204: How the Bible Describes Wolves (and It’s Not Nice) — Spreaker, from iHeart
Episode 204: How the Bible Describes Wolves (and It’s Not Nice) — YouTube

Ok, I’m being abused. So what do I do now?

Don Hennessy Digest

Controlling Behavior Checklist

Controlling Relationship Assessment

My abuser says I am the abuser! Am I?

The abuser sees; he just disagrees. He knows he is doing wrong; he just doesn’t care.

Does the victim recognize the abusive patterns? Yes, and no. And then, by degrees, YES!

Signs Your Husband May Be Addicted to Pornography

The language of abusers who portray themselves as victims — Vagueness & Contradictions

Potentially Abusive Personalities:  Some Red Flags — by Dr. George Simon, Jr.

ACFJ Resource page: Understanding Domestic Abuse

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