Defining Physical Abuse

Defining Physical Abuse

It’s a sunny day. You’re out with your family, or maybe taking your dog for a walk through the park. Then, all of a sudden, the clouds roll in, you hear the rumbling of thunder, and lightning strikes. What was once a beautiful day has now turned into a nasty, stormy afternoon. Your only hope is to get home safely without getting too soaked.

Physical abuse in a marriage is much like the unexpected storm above. When you get married, it’s all sunshine and rainbows. Life is good, and it looks like it will continue to be that way forever.

But sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes a storm rolls in. One disagreement leads to a fight. The next gets a little physical. Suddenly, you find yourself going to war over the simplest things.

Unfortunately, some people don’t know about physical abuse occurring in their relationship. Either that or they’re not willing to admit it.

It’s important to know exactly what it is because that is like being naive to the storm around you: let it rain down on you without protecting yourself from the situation.


Let’s just start with the obvious: if punches are being thrown, there’s physical abuse going on in your home. It doesn’t matter the intent of the kicks, slaps, or punches handed out, it’s still physical abuse.

Some may brush it off, or even justify the abuse by saying “Well, I started it.” Even if you did “start it”, it won’t be finished until the abuse is acknowledged for what it is. The attacks will continue to happen, your marriage will eventually spiral out of control, andーunless there is an interventionーyou’ll be walking the lonely, and painful path. Don’t justify your spouse’s actions if this is happening to you. Seek safety and let someone know what’s really going on.


“If we didn’t swing at each other, it doesn’t count.”


Physical abuse is all about control. By inflicting physical pain on someone, the predator keeps their prey in their place. A forceful grab can be as intimidating as a slap or punch. Grabbing your arm, your face, or any other body part are all considered forms of physical abuse. Don’t pass this off just because there weren’t punches thrown. A grab can leave as many bruises as a punch or a slap can, and it also can be similar in its emotional scarring.

Throwing objects

It could be a plate, a lamp, or a chair; something being thrown in a malicious way counts as physical abuse. It doesn’t matter if the target is hit or not. The point is that one person was trying to hurt the other. Just because they weren’t successful doesn’t mean that it should be dismissed. Whether it has happened once or a hundred times, know that it is a form of physical abuse and can’t be ignored.

Defining Physical Abuse

Forced sexual acts

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean that consent is always a given. If your spouse is forcing themselves on you, it is a form of physical abuse; more specifically rape. Many people don’t see this as a legitimate case for abuse in a marriage because of the fact that being married commits you to be sexual partners for life. But we all have long days, days where we’re not in the mood, and days that sex doesn’t appeal to us.

Don’t fool yourself into thinking that this should be ignored. This, like all the other forms of physical abuse, is a way that a dominant person seeks to have control over their spouse. If you feel that your spouse is forcing himself on you, and you feel like you lack control in the bedroom, seek help…and fast.

Final thoughts

As simple as it can be put, physical abuse is any physical act that makes you feel in danger or without control in your relationship. It looks different to everyone and is usually specific to the issues of each individual relationship.

The important thing is that you don’t live in a state of denial about the physical abuse that is occurring in your home. Sometimes it’s hard to come to terms with what’s going on around you, but it’s necessary if you want your marriage and life conditions to improve.

If you’re living in a state of constant fear, just waiting for your spouse’s next outburst, know that you are not alone. There are people that can help you. There are services that can keep you safe.

Often, when you feel most out of control that is the exact time when you need to take your control back. Start speaking up. Find a friend or a family member and tell them that you’re feeling unsafe. The more people you can get in confidence, the better it is. This will build momentum for you as you wish to get help from a professional, or possibly even law enforcement. Having that support system will be crucial as you attempt to fight your way out of the corner that your spouse has put you in.

Whether you have acknowledged physical abuse in your relationship or not, I sincerely hope that this will shed some light on your circumstances. Don’t sugarcoat your reality. Don’t brush away the abuse out of love for your spouse. If the love was mutual, you wouldn’t be in this situation. The only way to mend is to admit what is broken. Seek help today if you are being physically abused by your partner.