Domestic Violence

Domestic violence

is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Domestic violence happens when one person believes they are entitled to maintain coercive control over their partner.

Domestic violence

may include emotional abuse, economic abuse, sexual abuse, using children, threats, using gender privilege, intimidation, isolation, and a variety of other behaviors used to maintain fear, intimidation, and power.

Acts of domestic violence generally fall into one or more of the following categories:

  • Physical battering: physical attacks or aggressive behavior (range from bruising to murder)
  • Sexual abuse: forced sexual intercourse, unwanted sexual activity
  • Psychological battering: constant verbal abuse, harassment, excessive possessiveness, isolating the victim from friends and family, deprivation of physical and economic resources, and destruction of personal property.

Domestic violence escalates. It often begins with threats, name-calling, violence in the victims presence (such as punching a fist through a wall), damage to objects or pets. It may escalate to restraining, pushing, slapping, pinching, punching, kicking, biting, or sexual assault. Finally, it may become life-threatening and include choking, breaking bones, or the use of weapons.

The Cycle of Violence: Tension, Crisis or Violent Episode, Seductive Calm


stress builds, communication breaks down, victims’ senses growing danger and tries to avoid abuse, “minor” violence/abuse occurs, incidents occur more often, intensity increase, batterer denies, minimizes, or blames external factors, victim hopes things will change “somehow”


anxiety is extremely high, major controlled violence occurs, batterer is explosive, acute, and unpredictable, serious injuries or death may occur, abuser blames victim, victim adapts in order to survive, victim may escape only to return when crisis is over, abuser may isolate victim physically and emotionally


the whole family is in shock at first, abuser may be remorseful, seeking forgiveness, abuse temporarily stops, all are relieved that the crisis has passed, victim is worn down and accepts promises if offered, children become caretakers to survive or keep the peace, victim wants to believe violence won’t reoccur, abuser’s positive qualities are most evident

Across the U.S., 75% of domestic violence-related deaths occur after a victim takes steps to separate from their abuser.”


Does your partner…

Psychologically or emotionally abuse?

Sexually abuse?

Physically abuse?

  • Blames: “It’s all your fault”; “If you would just…”
  • Gets jealous of friends, relatives or co-workers; makes unjust accusations
  • Controls finances, activities, sleep, dress, all schedules
  • Isolates: keeps you from family, friends, jobs, school, church
  • Verbally insults: puts you down, criticizes you, makes fun of you, makes degrading or belittling comments
  • Threatens: to harm you or the children or to take the children
  • Intimidates: gives you “the look,” displays violence in general
  • Kills or injures pets in front of you
  • Dominates: displays superiority; makes sexist statements (“That’s woman’s/man’s work” or “What I say goes”)
  • Degrades: makes lewd comments or jokes; “checks out” other women/men in your presence
  • Forces sexual acts you don’t want to perform
  • Throws or breaks objects
  • Gives rough treatment – pushing, shoving or hitting
  • Pulls hair
  • Slaps, pushes, pinches, punches, cuts, bites, or chokes
  • Denies you medical care
  • Uses weapons (guns, knives, tools, etc.) to injure or threaten you or children

Do you…

  • Blame yourself for everything that goes wrong?
  • Sometimes feel scared of your partner?
  • Feel like your partner is never happy with you?
  • Have a hard time maintaining relationships with friends, relatives or co-workers because of your partner?
  • Feel trapped at home, unable to work or go to school or church, etc.?
  • Make excuses for the way your partner acts?
  • Feel like your partner keeps you from having access to cash, bank accounts or important documents that you might need?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what he/she will do if you leave?

Why do they stay?

On average, more than 3 women and 1 man are murdered by their intimate partners in this country every day. Intimate partner homicides accounted for 30 percent of the murders of women and 5 percent of the murders of men.

Many people immediately ask, “Why do so many battered victims stay?” The reality is that many try to leave, but leaving does not guarantee safety.

The abuser often becomes more violent after the victim decides to leave. Thousands attempt to leave their abusers every day only to discover they lack the funds and resources to provide necessities for their children and themselves.

The reasons for returning to an abusive partner are complex. Strong cultural pressures may discourage legal separation. Religious convictions may play a significant role in encouraging the victim to forgive their partner’s actions and return home. Many victims, frightened and convinced by their partners’ manipulation and coercive tactics, believe they have no options other than to remain with their partners.

Myths and Facts about Domestic Violence

Myth: Domestic violence is usually a one-time event, an isolated incident.

Fact: Battering is an ongoing pattern of behavior. It may get worse and more frequent over a period of time.

Myth: When there is violence in the family, all members of the family are participating in the dynamic; therefore, all must change for the violence to stop.

Fact: Only the batterer has the ability to stop the violence. Abuse is a behavioral choice. Changes in family members’ behavior will not cause or influence the batterer to be nonviolent.

Fact: Victims are not limited to women – victims can be men, the elderly, disabled individuals and LGBTQ+.

Fact: Women with disabilities are twice as likely to experience domestic violence as their non-disabled peers. It is estimated that 85% of the female population of persons with disabilities will experience domestic abuse during her lifetime.

Fact: Disabled women experiencing abuse are likely to experience more abuse, for a longer period of time, and receive more substantial injury than their non-disabled peers.

Myth: Teens do not experience dating violence.

Fact: Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

Myth: Only children who are physically abused themselves are harmed by living in an abusive household.

Fact: Children, regardless of whether they have experienced abuse directly, are affected by violence in the home. Children who witness abuse display the same emotional responses as children who have been physically and emotionally abused.

Myth: Victims provoke their abusers.

Fact: Batterers use violence or other abusive behavior because they have learned that it can control their partners. Regardless of what a partner does, an abuser’s response is totally his decision.

Myth: Once a batterer, always a batterer.

Fact: Battering behavior is learned behavior that can be unlearned. Behavioral change, however, requires intervention. It is unlikely that a batterer can change by sheer willpower alone.

Fact: Victims often have health problems and can suffer from substance abuse.

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