Second of Five Types of Abuse: The Controlling Type

Physical abuse may be more obvious, but other types of abuse can be just as damaging to somebody's sense of self-worth and happiness. As is sometimes the case, the torment from emotional abuse can last even longer than the torment from physical abuse. In one example, a 65 year old woman, after surviving 38 years of an abusive relationship, explained that her fingers were broken to punish her for looking the wrong way at another man. Each of her fingers healed in just a few months, but the emotional scars and fear that were created each time she was punished by her husband have lasted nearly her entire adult life.

This is why it is important to heed warnings, or red flags, and learn to recognize the Five Types of Abuse. Being prepared to encounter and better respond to abusers will help prevent you and your loved ones from suffering a lifetime of suffering and torment.

Here are the 5 Abuse Types:

  1. The Cycle of Violence Type
  2. The Controlling Type
  3. The Sadistic Type
  4. The Stalking Type (when not in a formal relationship)
  5. The Codependent Type

To be clear, it is typical for abusers to show a combination of Abuse Types, in fact, surveys indicate that only 20% of abusers exhibit just one Abuse Type. More likely, they will have a combination of Abuse Types which can help to determine their dominant Abusive Character Type; which will be described in later blog posts and ePackets, stay up-to-date. The one common theme among the 5 Abuse Types is that a partner tries to control, abuse, and/or cause disharmony for the person that is the focus of their attention, whether it’s a current, past, or even an intended partner.

The Controlling Type. 

The second most common domestic violence abuse type (after the Cycle of Violence Type), represents about 50% of intimate couples in abusive relationships. Abusers who exhibit excessively dominant and authoritative abuse are referred to as “The Controlling Type.” The Controlling Type attempts to control every action, communication, resource, and mood of their partner.

They exert great emotional control and manipulation, and they make themselves the center of the world, and attempt to use partners as servants who are responsible for the happiness of the abuser.


Controlling types are often caught in their own Shame Cycle. In this cycle, the abuser will initially feel shame for something they have done, will feel unable to control themselves, continue to do the "shameful" thing, and then lose self-respect. The loss of self-respect then encourages them to commit more shameful behavior. When they are caught in the Shame Cycle the abuser typically blames external events for their conduct, things like stress from work, financial concerns, alcohol, drugs, and especially their partner. The Controlling Types blames and shames their partners, for the abuser's actions, as a way to get a confession from their partner, and then punishes them for the acts the abuser created or helped to create in the first place.

Observations regarding numerous batterers and abusers, regardless of gender, age, mental acuity, and sexual preference, is that Controlling type characteristics generally consist of the following (not all of these need to be present, each of these are clues towards the controlling type of behavior) :

  • The abusers have negative self-esteem and insecurity issues, which they attempt to overcompensate for by projecting false power, and the development of narcissism.
  • Belief in a traditional family structure where the abuser dominates their partner and forces obedience.
  • Blames others for their actions and inactions, but makes all the decisions and judgments.
  • Pathological jealousy and they feel like they need to know everything.
  • Belief that violent behavior is justified and does not need to be punished.
  • Holds privileges hostage, such as withholding activities, transportation, the ability to communicate, a driver's license, or money.
  • Uses children as pawns - undermining good parenting, telling lies, picking up, moving, or dropping off children unexpectedly, and commonly holding children as hostages.
  • Decides what the partner can and can't do, with whom they can and can't communicate, and making judgments for them and about them.
  • Always checks on where partners are going, where they have been, whom they have called and seen, how they spend money, and any attempts to break free from domination.
  • Focuses on mental and emotional manipulation.
  • Devotes great attention and creativity involving degrading and discrediting their partners to family, friends, associates, and neighbors.
  • Attempts to degrade, denounce, and discourage partner independence, esteem, self-confidence, and recognition.

Abuse is a disease, passed from one generation to the next. One of the biggest problems in fighting abuse in our culture and among our friends and family is to recognize that many common actions we see are part of a larger picture, part of a pattern of abuse that begins to emerge if we know what to look for and how to look for it.

Literally everyone can benefit from a better understanding of abuse, please share this article. There is always a first action to helping someone you care about. Let this be it!

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