Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence means cruelty and abuse by family members or
intimate partners. It may be from a spouse or ex-spouse. It may be from boyfriend
or
girlfriend, or an ex. This kind of abuse can also happen on a date. And it may be
from a
family member, such as a parent. It may be from a brother or sister, or from a child
to
a parent. There are many terms for domestic violence, such as:

  • Intimate partner abuse

  • Family violence

  • Child abuse

  • Elder abuse

  • Sibling abuse

  • Battering

  • Courtship violence

  • Marital rape

  • Date rape

  • Stalking

Domestic violence can take many forms. It most often involves
bullying and threats. It can include violent behaviors. These are used to gain power
and
control over another person. The abusive person is most often a man. Women are usually
the victims. But, domestic violence also occurs against men. It also occurs in same-sex
relationships. The social stigmas of LGBTQ relationships in some communities can make
seeking help harder for victims.

Facts about domestic violence

The CDC notes that:

  • In the U.S., nearly 24 people
    per minute are victims of rape, violence, or stalking by a partner.

  • About 3 in 10 women and 1 in
    10 men in the U.S. have reported rape, physical violence, or stalking by a family
    member or partner.

The effects on victims can include:

  • Depression

  • Suicidal thoughts and attempts

  • Lowered self-esteem

  • Alcohol and drug abuse

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

What are the types of domestic
violence?

The types of domestic violence
include:

  • Physical. This means hitting a person to cause
    physical injury. It may cause bruising, broken bones, internal bleeding, and
    death. Often the abuse starts with minor contact. It then escalates over time into
    more violent actions.

  • Sexual. This means rape or other forced sexual
    activity. It can often happen during or after physical battering.

  • Mental or emotional. A mental or emotional abuser
    often uses words, threats, harassment. Abuse may include extreme jealousy, forced
    isolation, and destruction of personal effects. There may be threats of harm to
    children, other family members, or pets. Isolation often occurs when the abuser
    tries to control a victim’s time, activities, and contact with others. Abusers may
    do this by blocking supportive relationships. They may create barriers to normal
    activities, such as taking away the car keys or locking the victim in the home.
    They may lie or distort what is real to gain mental control.

  • Stalking. This is repeated harassing or threatening
    behavior. It often leads to physical or sexual abuse.

  • Economic. This is when the abuser controls access to
    all the victim’s resources. This includes time, transportation, food, clothing,
    shelter, insurance, and money. For example, an abuser may interfere with a
    partner’s ability to become self-sufficient. They may insist on control of all the
    finances. When the victim leaves the violent relationship, the abuser may use
    economics as a way to keep control or force the victim to return.

How domestic violence starts

Abuse often starts with things such as name-calling, threats, and
hitting or throwing objects. It can get worse and include pushing, slapping, and holding
a person against their will. It may then include punching, hitting, and kicking. It
can
increase to life-threatening behaviors. This can include choking, breaking of bones,
or
use of weapons.

Verbal and emotional abuse often come before physical violence. Be
aware of warning signs such as extreme jealousy, a bad temper, unstable behavior,
cruelty to animals, and verbal abuse.

How to get help

The first step is to understand
that abuse is happening and that it’s not OK. The actions of domestic violence are
not a
sign of love. They are about power and control.

Contact your local women’s or LGBTQ
shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 (SAFE). They can
provide you with helpful information and advice.

The National Coalition Against
Domestic Violence urges people in abusive relationships to create a safety plan. This
plan may help you in difficult situations:

  • Find a safe place to go in
    your home if an argument starts. Avoid rooms without an exit. Avoid rooms with
    possible weapons or other dangers, such as a kitchen or bathroom.

  • Know who to contact in a
    crisis. Set up a code word or sign with trusted family, neighbors, or friends to
    let them know when you need help.

  • Memorize all important phone
    numbers.

  • Always keep money and change
    with you.

  • Keep a “go bag” of important
    papers and documents. Put this bag in a place you can easily access if needed.
    This bag should include social security cards, birth certificates, marriage
    license, checkbook, credit cards, bank statements, health insurance cards, and any
    records of past abuse such as photos and police reports.

Remember that help is available.
You have the right to live without fear and violence. Without help, abuse will continue.
It will place you at risk for serious harm.