What is domestic violence

History of the Battered Women’s Movement

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

An emotional abuser:

  • calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
  • does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
  • tries to isolate you from family or friends.
  • monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
  • does not want you to work.
  • controls finances or refuses to share money.
  • punishes you by withholding affection.
  • expects you to ask permission.
  • threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
  • humiliates you.

A financial abuser:

  • sabotages work by stalking or harassing at the workplace.
  • controls how money is spent.
  • denies access to bank accounts.
  • withholds money or gives an allowance.
  • runs up large amounts of debt on joint accounts.
  • withholds funds for basic needs such as food and medicine.
  • demands a partner’s public benefits.

A physical abuser:

  • damages property when angry (throw objects, punch walls, kick doors, etc.).
  • pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you.
  • abandons you in dangerous or unfamiliar places.
  • scares you by driving recklessly.
  • uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
  • forces you to leave your home.
  • traps you in your home or keep you from leaving.
  • prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
  • hurts your children.
  • uses physical force in sexual situations.

A sexual abuser:

  • views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
  • accuses you of cheating or appears jealous of your outside relationships.
  • wants you to dress in a sexual way.
  • insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
  • forces or manipulates you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
  • holds you down during sex.
  • demands sex when you are sick, tired or after beating you.
  • hurts you with weapons or objects during sex.
  • involves other people in sexual activities with you.
  • ignores your feelings regarding sex.

If you recognize yourself in any of these situations, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Call our 24-hour toll free crisis line at 800-332-7385
or call 211 to connect with other services that can help.