The word "abuse" means different things to different people. To some, abuse refers only to physical battering that results in a serious injury. To others, abuse also includes harsh criticism that results in devastating self-doubt. In fact, abusive behaviors may include both of these and more. Abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, or economic. If a dating -- or marital -- partner tries to exert control by using physical force, threats of physical violence, forced sexual activities, or verbal attacks that undermine self-respect, that is abuse.