What is Domestic Violence?
Updated: Nov 11, 2021
Domestic violence, also known as domestic abuse, can be summed up as any type of abuse caused by domestic relationships, whether from parents, roommates, or partners. The abuse is found in the form of physical abuse, sexual abuse, or emotional abuse. Each type of abuse is no less worse than the other and can leave deep emotional and physical scars for survivors' entire lives. Domestic violence does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, social status, or immigration status. Often domestic violence is one person having power and control over the other person and is a pattern of negative behaviors such as manipulation, controlling behaviors, financial abuse, grabbing, spitting, destroying possessions. Most of the time, people from outside of the domestically violent relationship cannot identify abuse or have many misconceptions of what domestic violence looks like.
Are you currently a victim of domestic violence? If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
Characteristics of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence does not discriminate, it can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, age, sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, religious beliefs, social status, or immigration status. Often domestic violence is one person having power and control over the other person and is a pattern of negative behaviors such as manipulation, controlling behaviors, financial abuse, grabbing, spitting, destroying possessions. Most of the time, people from outside of the domestically violent relationship cannot identify abuse or have many misconceptions of what domestic violence looks like.
Emotional abuse is a behavior your partner, parental figure, or coach uses to control you or damage your emotional well-being. It can be verbal or non-verbal:
Name-calling, mocking, intimidation, or making humiliating remarks and/or gestures.
Yelling in your face.
Standing in a menacing way to make you feel intimidated.
Manipulating your children.
Telling you what to do.
Telling you where you can and cannot go.
Telling you who you can and cannot talk or spend time with.
Placing little value on what you say.
Interrupting, changing topics, not listening or responding, and twisting your words.
Putting you down in front of other people.
Saying negative things about your friends and family.
Spreading lies about you to family, friends, coworkers, or their friends.
Cheating or being overly jealous.
Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior by blaming others or saying you caused it.
Monitoring your phone calls, texts, and computer use.
Monitoring the miles on your car or tracking your car with a GPS system.
Financial abuse happens when the abuser makes a victim entirely financially dependent on the abuser, with no power or say in the relationship:
Forbidding the victim to work or attend school.
Sabotaging employment opportunities by giving the victim a visible injury prior to an important meeting.
Causing employment issues by stalking or harassing the victim at the workplace.
Denying access to a vehicle or damaging the vehicle so that the victim cannot get to work.
Refusing to cover costs of tickets from having to drive their car that is not properly registered or inspected.
Making a person who is financially dependant ask for money or asking to see receipts.
Accessing personal bank accounts without permission.
Sabotaging educational opportunities by destroying class assignments.
Withholding money or giving an allowance.
Denying access to bank accounts.
Spending large sums of money without discussing it together.
Paying rent and/or bills late.
Turning off utilities such as electric, gas, or internet without permission
Hiding family assets.
Running up debt in the victim’s name.
Harassment & Stalking
Harassment & stalking can happen between strangers or partners, in situations where the abuser demands your time even after you make it clear you do not want contact:
Making unwanted visits or sending you unwanted messages (voicemails, text messages, emails, etc.).
Sending two unwanted and unanswered texts or phone calls is harassment.
Following you, including installing GPS tracking software on your car or cell phone without your knowledge or consent.
Checking up on you constantly.
Embarrassing you in public.
Refusing to leave when asked.
Forcing you to have to call the police for assistance to have them leave.
Sending unwanted gifts.
Physical abuse will not always leave visible marks or cause permanent physical damage:
Scratching, biting, or grabbing
Spitting or burning.
Shoving and pushing.
Slapping, punching, or strangling.
Throwing objects to hurt and/or scare you.
Destroying possessions such as your cell phone.
Hurting or threatening to hurt your children and/or pets.
Disrupting your sleeping patterns, making you feel exhausted.
Attacking or threatening to attack with a weapon.
Any threats or actual attempts to kill you.
Sexual abuse usually occurs from someone the victim knows however, it is not uncommon for sexual abuse to occur from strangers as well. Sexual abuse is any unwanted touching anywhere on the body whether it be the arm, face, leg, or shoulder.
Sexual abuse does occur in committed relationships and marriages.
Can be any type of unwanted touching.
Unwanted flashing of private body parts.
Receiving or sending unwanted explicit texts/voicemails.
Making sexual jokes or innuendos.
Unwanted sexual contact.
Removal of protection without consent.
Threatening or posting explicit photos of the victim online without the persons' consent.