Domestic Violence is an on-going pattern of hurtful, manipulative or controlling activities, including:

  • Physical Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Emotional Abuse
  • Isolation
  • Coercion
  • Psychological Abuse
  • Financial Abuse

that results in one partner being afraid of the other partner or spouse. It occurs in all types of relationships, including within an intimate partnership, between adult children and their elderly parents, between people with disabilities and their caretakers, in teen dating relationships and many more dynamics of relationships.

Domestic Violence is an intentional behavior. The purpose of domestic violence is to establish and exert power and control over another.

Domestic violence is much more common than many people think. It is estimated that half of all women experience some form of domestic violence in their lifetimes. It is one of the leading health concerns for women in the United States. More women go to the emergency room from domestic violence injuries than any other type of injury; it is the leading cause of femicide and is the number one cause of injuries and death in the workplace. According to the Partnership on Domestic Violence (, it is the leading cause of miscarriage, birth defects, and infant mortality (as the perpetrator/abuser almost always escalates their use of violence when their partner is pregnant). Recently, national studies found domestic violence homicide is the leading cause of death during pregnancy.

Domestic Violence is a serious problem that occurs in every culture and social group. It has devastating physical, emotional, financial and social effects on women, children, families, and communities around the world. Violence against women jeopardizes women's lives, bodies, psychological integrity and freedom and has been called "the most pervasive yet least recognized human rights abuse in the world." Violence against women is often known as "gender based" violence because it partly stems from women's subordinate status in society.

Physical abuse often begins with less violent assaults such as pushing. As the abuse continues, however, it becomes increasingly violent. Abusers often target areas of the body that are usually covered with clothing because the injuries are less likely to be visible to others. Examples of physical abuse are:

  • pushing
  • restraining
  • shaking
  • slapping
  • biting
  • punching
  • kicking
  • throwing objects at victim
  • strangulation
  • homicide
What does it look like?
"He promised he would never hit me again, so I stayed."
"My partner slams doors and throws and breaks household items in our home."

"He slapped me and said he was sorry and didn't mean it but said I made him upset."

"I tried to run away when she chased me because she hurt me, but when she caught me, she locked me in a room."

Sexual Abuse is one of the least discussed, but most common forms of domestic violence. Sexual abuse includes examples:

  • sexual jokes that make the victim uncomfortable
  • treating women at sex objects
  • criticizing the victim's sexuality
  • using sexual jealousy has a tool of control
  • uncomfortable touch or unwanted touch
  • withholding sex as punishment
  • demanding sex
  • flaunting affairs
  • rape
  • sex after beatings
  • forcing victim to watch or to witness or participate in sexual activity with others
  • sexually assaulting the victim in front of their children
  • sexual torture

What does this look like?

"I'm forced to touch him in sexual ways when I don't want to."

"He forces me to watch sex in ways that I make me uncomfortable."

"I know we are married, but when he wants sex and I'm too tired, he forces me to do it."

"Some of the men that my friend hangs around with makes degrading sex jokes when I'm around that makes me feel uncomfortable."

Emotional Abuse is a tool used by those who want to make their partners feel scared, crazy, worthless or responsible for the abuse. The abuser's goal is control over the victim. Examples of emotional abuse may include:

  • making jokes about the victim
  • insulting
  • ignoring the victim's feelings
  • withholding affection as a form of punishment
  • yelling at the victim
  • blaming victim for all problems
  • humiliating victim in front of others
  • threatening suicide to punish the victim
  • threatening to take children away from the victim
  • threatening physical violence
What does this look like?
"My partner calls me bad names like bitch and stupid and makes me feel bad."
"He told me that if I didn't tell him where I went that he would take the children from me."

"I feel worthless because he makes fun of me in front of our friends by making me the target of his jokes."

"I feel guilty for leaving him because he said he was going to kill himself if I left him."

Social Abuse is used to isolate the victim from others in the community. The fewer people the victim is connected with, the more control the abuser has over the victim. Examples of social abuse include:

  • Insisting that the couple spend all time together
  • Discouraging the victim from seeing friends or family
  • Forbidding the victim to see friends or family
  • Restricting access to car or car keys
  • Monitoring the victim's mail or phone calls
  • Checking the odometer (how far the victim has traveled in their vehicle)
  • Telling others the victim is crazy or abusive

What does this look like?

"I wanted to go to the movies with my best friend, but he told me she was a bad influence even though

I've known her and hung out with her since junior high. He saw her calling on our phone and told me not to pick up or else."

"He wouldn't let me go anywhere unless he was with me, even to the grocery store."

"I've told people that I'm afraid of my partner because he hurts me, but my partner is so charming that everyone thinks I'm lying and crazy."

"She is always looking through my cell phone to see who has called and blames me for cheating."

Financial Abuse is when abusers often attempt to establish financial control over victims. Victims who are financial dependent on abusers have fewer resources for escape. Financial abuse may include:

  • Making all decisions in the household how money is spent
  • Keeping financial secrets
  • Refusing to let the victim work
  • Controlling the victim's access to cash
  • Controlling the victim's access to shared bank accounts, checkbooks, credit cards
  • Taking all the money from the victim after they have been paid
  • Refusing to pay any bills shared and forcing the victim to pay even though they both work

What does this look like?

"Since we have moved to the United States, he works and he won't let me work but I want to. He tells me to stay home with our children."

"I dread every pay day because my partner forces me to give him my money."

"One time he got angry and threw my wallet at me because I had found out he had been using our money to gamble secretly."

"I can't make any purchases without his approval."