Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control imposed by one partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse and neglect. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s persistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality. It is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior that is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence can result in physical injury or death, psychological trauma, and emotional and spiritual brokenness. The devastating physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and affect lineages.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).

About 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. Violence and abuse are motivated by a need to control, humiliate, dominate and harm.

Domestic violence intensifies over time. Abusers may often seem wonderful initially, but gradually show signs of more controlling and aggressive behavior.

Abuse may begin with behaviors that could be downplayed such as name-calling, jealousy, possessiveness, or distrust. Abusers are likely to apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the person they are abusing that they do these things out of love. What at the beginning could be confused as harmless, like wanting to spend all their time only with them because they love you so much) escalates into extreme control and abuse (threats to hurt or kill the victim or others if they speak to anyone, etc.). Some examples of these early behaviors are:

Domestic Violence Statistics

To end domestic violence and sexual assault, we all need to be part of the solution. Educating yourself and others, helping a friend who is being abused, speaking up, and being an engaged bystander are all examples of things you can do to help.

20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States

  • 1 in 3 women have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. This includes slapping, shoving, pushing; which many do not be consider to be “domestic violence.” 
  • 1 in 3 women experience intimate partner physical violence, with impacts such as injury, fearfulness, post-traumatic stress disorder, contraction of sexually transmitted diseases, etc.

1 in 4 women have been victims of severe physical violence such as beating, burning, strangling by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

  • 1 in 7 women have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point of feeling very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner

  • The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%.
  • Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.

Only 34% of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries.

  • 20% of domestic violence homicide victims were not intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders.
  • Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.

72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.

  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.
  • Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.

1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

  •  Between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace by their abuser, 78% of women killed in the workplace during this timeframe.

Victims of domestic violence are at higher risk for developing addictions to alcohol, tobacco, or drugs.

  • Women abused by their intimate partners are more vulnerable to contracting HIV or other STI’s due to forced intercourse or prolonged exposure to stress.
  • Negative health effects have been linked with domestic violence including teen-pregnancy, unintended pregnancy in general, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine hemorrhage, nutritional deficiency, abdominal pain and other gastrointestinal problems, neurological disorders, chronic pain, disability, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), as well as noncommunicable diseases such as hypertension, cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

Know the Signs

Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and decides to use abuse to gain and maintain that control. In relationships where domestic violence exists, there is always one primary person that uses the threat or act of violence as a constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship.

Some of the signs of an abusive behaviors and relationships are:

  • Imposing strict rules and control over financial and social matters, including appearance
  • Needing constant contact, including excessive texts, calls and personal contact
  • Emotional abuse and extreme criticism, including insulting a partner in front of others
  • Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  • One partner showing fear around the other partner
  • Isolation & jealousy of family and friends, including turning family members against one another
  • Frequent canceling of plans at the last minute
  • Unexplained injuries or explanations that don’t quite add up
  • Neglect of basic needs
  • Harassment and/or Stalking
  • Lack of Privacy (reads texts, emails, etc.)
  • Discouragement of self-improvement, higher education, promotions, etc.
  • Telling the victim that they can never do anything right, embarrassing or shaming the victim with put-downs
  • Showing jealousy of the victim’s family and friends and time spent away, eventually discouraging them from spending time with family or friends
  • Accusing the victim of cheating
  • Taking the victim’s money or refusing to give them money for expenses, controlling all the money spent in the household
  • Intimidating, threatening or acting in ways that scare the person they are abusing; including using weapons to do so
  • Controlling who the victim sees, where they go, or what they do
  • Dictating how the victim dresses, wears their hair, etc.
  • Stalking the victim or monitoring their victim’s every move (in person, internet, devices such as GPS)
  • Preventing the victim from making their own decisions
  • Telling the victim that they are a bad parent or threatening to hurt, kill, or take away their children
  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim’s friends, loved ones, or pets
  • Pressuring the victim to have sex when they don’t want to or to do things sexually they are not comfortable with
  • Forcing sex with others
  • Refusing to use protection when having sex or sabotaging birth control
  • Pressuring or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol
  • Preventing the victim from working or attending school, harassing the victim at either, keeping their victim up all night so they perform badly at their job or in school
  • Destroying the victim’s property, used as punishment (breaking sentimental possessions) or to terrorize victim into submission.
  • Force which may include but is not limited to use or display or a weapon, physical battering or immobilization of the victim (holding down, physically restraining, pushing or shoving)
  • Cruelty to animals or children, punishes brutally or is insensitive to other’s pain. May expect children to perform beyond their capabilities (i.e.: spanking a 2-year old for wetting a diaper)

Knowing what to say to someone who may be experiencing domestic violence, abuse or neglect can be overwhelming and scary. Though it is difficult, the most important thing is to simply be a friend.  Here are some communication keys to help you connect:

  • Listen without judgment
  • Let them know that you believe them
  • Ask what more you can do to help
  • Support their decisions
  • Let them know they are not alone
  • Refer them to Resources they can access
  • Take care of yourself. Make sure you seek support and help if you are feeling overwhelmed.

In addition to above, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) offers free, confidential services to anyone who is affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, including friends and families.