Spousal abuse is another term for domestic violence, in which one partner uses physical violence, sexual assault and terrorization to gain power and control over the other partner. The abuser incorporates whatever abuse is likely to bring the victim into total submission, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Physical and sexual violence occur in tandem with emotional and mental abuse to keep victims fearing, and anticipating, pending episodes of violence. Abusers use threats and sporadic assaults to force victims into states of perpetual submission, explains the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Abusers know how to use their ability to appear charming. They typically rush into relationships, pressuring potential partners into premature commitments, including marriage. Abuse generally begins with manipulative tactics that abusers execute under the guise of love for their new partners. Other early signs include extreme jealousy, relentless calling to keep tabs, possessiveness and public humiliation, which abusers dismiss as being just a joke, states the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Some abused spouses or partners remain in abusive relationships because they are afraid to leave. Fear and isolation put a barrier between victims and help, notes the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Societal responses to spousal abuse further oppress victims, such as diminishing spousal abuse by calling it a dispute instead of a crime.