What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate or dating relationship that is used by one partner to gain and/or maintain power and control over another partner. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, harass, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, or injure someone. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can differ from one relationship to the next, but abusive relationships always get worse (not better) over time.
Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Examples include hitting, pushing, scratching, biting, hair pulling, throwing objects, displaying/using weapons, punching a wall, strangulation, and more. This form of abuse also includes denying someone access to resources essential to maintaining physical health such as food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. Physical abuse can cause severe injury and death.
Emotional Abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as name-calling, threats, insults, humiliation, intimidation, and isolation. Perpetrators use this form of abuse to attack a their partner's self-worth and self-esteem, causing the victim to believe they are unworthy and to blame for their partner's behavior.
Psychological abuse involves trauma to the victim caused by verbal abuse, acts, threatened acts, and coercive tactics. Perpetrators use this form of abuse to control, terrorize, and denigrate their partners. A number of studies have demonstrated that psychological abuse causes long-term mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, low self-esteem, difficulty trusting others as well as suicidal thoughts and actions.
Stalking can be defined as repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, and/or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person to instill fear and threaten safety. This form of abuse can be perpetrated in-person, through people the victim or perpetrator know, and through the use of technology. Stalkers can be current or former partners who are obsessive, controlling, and even delusional.
Digital Abuse is perpetrated through the use of technological communication methods such as phone calls, text messages, email, social media posts, smart phone applications, and digital photos and video. This behavior is often emotional, psychological, or sexual abuse perpetrated online. Teens and young adults ages 16-24 experience the highest rate of digital abuse.
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures, coerces, or forces someone to participate in sexual activity against their will. This form of abuse can also include taking and distributing explicit photos or video of one's partner without their knowledge and consent. Victims who experience both physical and sexual abuse are at a much higher risk of being severely injured or killed by their partner. Women who are disabled, pregnant, or attempting to leave their abusers are at the greatest risk for intimate partner rape.
Reproductive Coercion is behavior used to pressure or coerce a woman into becoming pregnant, or into continuing or ending a pregnancy against her will through the use of manipulation, intimidation, threats, and/or acts of violence. Preventing access to, sabotaging and/or refusing to use birth control methods against the victim's will also falls under this form of abuse.
Financial/Economic abuse includes limiting access to financial resources such as bank accounts, credit cards, car and home titles, transportation, education, employment opportunities and other means. This form of abuse can be subtle but nonetheless devastating to victims, robbing them of independence and free will. Perpetrators use this form of abuse to control, isolate, and force their partners to solely depend on them for every need.