Many types of abuse can be classified as domestic assaults such as; child abuse, partner abuse, spousal abuse, sibling abuse, elderly abuse, partner abuse, dating violence or physical abuse; often these types of abuse coexist or are different variables in an environment in which family abuse is common. Many of these types of abuse can be so severe to have the perpetrator charged. These types of violence, in turn may become apparent through different types of abuse, such as verbal abuse, psychological abuse or mental abuse. Although historically these types of crime were commonly grouped together as wife abuse (from which the term abused women syndrome or battered women syndrome originated), it is not uncommon to find abusive men and abusive women who are referred for psychological assessment and treatment.
The graphic description of the cycle of abuse as the power and control wheel is poignant; very often the cycle of domestic assault and domestic bliss follow each other with periods of relative ease and little tension. The psychologist working with abusers can possibly end up working with perpetrators or with victims of abuse. Targets of psychological intervention are how to identify signs of abuse and how to stop domestic violence, how to address the minimization and denial of abuse and to identify the possible presence of co-occurrence of psychological problems. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is often used as the intervention of choice to help victims of abuse as well as perpetrators of abuse.