Maybe he doesn’t actually hit you. Maybe she has yet to draw blood. Maybe the threat of violence is no more than a threat — so far.

Abuse does not have to be physical to be real. Many abusers prefer more subtle approaches of controlling a spouse. In fact, the victim may not even recognize that he or she is in an abusive relationship because physical violence is not present.

However, any behavior intended to control a person can be a sign of abuse. Below are several types of abuse, as listed by the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence:

Verbal Abuse

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Whoever came up with this ridiculous children’s chant did nothing to help victims of abuse. Words can indeed be very damaging. Types of verbal abuse can include:

  • Constant criticism
  • Humiliating remarks
  • Mocking
  • Name-calling
  • Yelling
  • Swearing
  • Constant interruptions

Sexual Abuse

Rape is not the only form of sexual abuse. A spouse who forces another spouse to have sex or to perform unusual sexual activities may be an abuser.


A married person still has rights to privacy and the freedom to go somewhere alone. A spouse who monitors the other’s phone calls or emails may be crossing the line. Similarly, if a spouse controls when and where the other person goes or whom he or she sees, this may be a sign of abuse.


An extremely manipulative spouse may use guilt, threats, intimidation, or a variety of tactics to get the spouse to do something he or she does not want to do.

Economic Abuse

It’s typical for one spouse to handle the majority of the daily financial decisions. However, it is not normal for one spouse to withhold money from the other or prohibit the spouse from working or going to school.

Physical Abuse

This can range from slapping or pushing to hitting or kicking to even choking or outright beating. In general, any type of unwanted physical contact could be a sign of physical abuse.

Domestic abuse in Maryland can take on many forms, each equally destructive. If you or a loved one suspects abuse is present, get help immediately. Contact a local domestic violence shelter for resources. 

Abuse is also a perfectly valid reason to sue for divorce in Maryland. A skilled Maryland divorce attorney can help you determine which grounds for divorce best suit your needs and how to put together a petition. For a free consultation, call Nickelsporn & Lundin at 800-875-9700.