What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence and emotional abuse.
The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically. However, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner's consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, education level or any other aspect of diversity.
What does abuse include?
Abuse may begin with easily dismissed or downplayed behaviors such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness, or distrust. Abusers may apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the abusing person that they do these things out of love or care.
However, violence and control always intensify over time with an abuser, despite the apologies. What may start as something that was first believed to be harmless (e.g., wanting the victim to spend all their time only with them because they love them so much) escalates into extreme control and abuse (e.g., threatening to kill or hurt the victim or others if they speak to family, friends, etc.).
Know the signs
- Wants to move too quickly into the relationship
- Excessive jealousy and accuses you of having affairs
- Wants to know where you are all the time
- Calls, emails and texts you excessively throughout the day
- Insists that you stop spending time with your friends or family
- Controlling every penny spent in the household
- Dictating how you dress, wear your hair, etc.
- Stalking you or monitoring your every move (in person or also via the internet and other devices such as G.P.S. tracking on your phone)
- Preventing you from working or attending school, harassing you at either, keeping you up all night, so you perform poorly at your job or in school
- Criticizes you or puts you down
- Takes no responsibility for their behavior and blames others
- Will suddenly rage out of control and act impulsively
- Blames the entire failure of previous relationships on their partner; for example, "My ex was a total bitch"
- Has a history of battering
- Grew up in an abusive or violent home
- Seems "too good to be true"
- Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill or take away your children
- Threatening to hurt or kill your friends, loved ones or pets
- Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressuring you to have sex when you don't want to or to do things sexually you are not comfortable with
- Forcing sex with others
- Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
- Pressuring or forcing you to use drugs or alcohol
- Destroying your property
Power and control wheel
The power and control wheel describes how abusers and batterers do things to gain power and control over another person – usually their intimate partner. Power and control are central to patterns of abusive and violent relationships.
Domestic violence refers to, includes and is also called: intimate partner violence, intimate violence, domestic terrorism and coercive control.