Abuse can be withholding affection from the children just to "get back at" their partner for stepping "out of line."
Abuse can be saying it will be their partner's fault if they kill themselves or have a heart attack.
Abuse can be throwing things, breaking things that matter to the other person, disappearing for a period of time just to make their spouse worry or wonder what they're doing, leading their partner to believe they've been unfaithful or even actually cheating, or even forcing their spouse into unwanted sexual activity.
Abuse can be claiming God or the Bible told them to act this way and that their partner is sinning or in danger of going to hell if they don't do as they're told.
These may seem like extreme behaviors, but they happen far too often. When I hear about this kind of control and abuse dynamic, what is clear to me is that the dominant person has lost sight of their partner as a distinct human being. They see their partner as their personal property. This means they view the other person as existing for their amusement and to meet their needs and that they are not concerned about any needs their partner has. It is about what makes them comfortable or what makes them feel good and that's all that matters. We all own things. We own homes, furniture, cars, computers and gadgets of all sorts, clothes, books, and so on. We don't care about how our cars or computers feel about things, because they don't have feelings. They don't have souls. They are not living things. They were created by people to be used and enjoyed by people. They exist to serve us and meet our needs. They amuse us, entertain us, make us comfortable, give us bragging rights, or serve more practical purposes that make our lives easier in some way. We purchase them for specific reasons and legitimately own them because we've paid money and bought them. They belong to us and are our possessions.
Human beings are not possessions to be bought, owned, sold, or traded. They're not robots or computers that can be programmed to do things exactly the way someone else wants them to. Financial investment, marriage, or even parenthood doesn't entitle any of us to have ownership of another person. This sounds like a total no brainer, but apparently, it isn't. I am astounded how often people speak of their younger children, teens, and even their spouse or partner as if they are a possession, not a person. They'll deny this if confronted with what seems to be the truth, but the words and actions they display towards their spouse reveal their actual beliefs.
This is a deeply held thought pattern that isn't just going to go away. People who act this way can say they're sorry and promise they'll make changes, but they are usually unable or unwilling to do so. They need extensive individual and group counseling to address and take ownership of this aspect of their personality and to learn to act and think differently. Oftentimes, abusers only enter such programs because they're court ordered to do so. Unless they truly want to change, the abuse will probably continue sooner or later.
No one deserves to be treated like property. People are living things with hearts, souls, and feelings. In my belief, each one is uniquely created by God with certain characteristics and preferences. Just like snowflakes, no two people are exactly alike.