What is Domestic Violence?

What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence (also called Relationship Violence) can be defined as a pattern of behaviors by an intimate partner that may include physical, sexual, economic and/or emotional abuse, for the purpose of establishing or maintaining power and control over the other partner. While domestic violence occurs in all types of relationships and between people of all genders, it is overwhelmingly a problem of violence perpetrated by men against women.

Physical Abuse can include:
slapping, punching, kicking, use of weapons throwing objects, denial of physical needs (food, sleep, medical attention)

Sexual Abuse can include:
non-consenting sexual acts/behaviors, use of force (including threats/weapons), "guilt-tripping" partner into having sex, degrading or sexually attacking comments aimed at partner, or any touch that is unwanted

Emotional Abuse can include:
blaming partner for everything that goes wrong, controlling what partner does, wears, reads, limiting contact with family & friends, threats of future abuse, tells children, family or friends lies about partner

***Emotional abuse is often the core of an abusive relationship. There are services available even before it becomes physical. See our Resources link to find out about services and support.

Economic Abuse can include:
control of assets, car, credit card, refusal to let partner get a job, puts bills in partner's name, then runs up charges, refusal of access to money, food, clothing and other basic needs

Warning Signs
Even though every relationship is different, these common warning signs are often part of a relationship that is abusive. Many abusive relationships include some of these warning signs but may not include all of them. If you think your relationship might be unhealthy or abusive, there is help available. See our Resources link to find out about services and support..

Does your partner:
  • Say that you are responsible for your partner’s problems, feelings, or behavior?
  • Tease you in a hurtful way in private or in public?
  • Call you names?
  • Refuse to listen to your opinion while insisting that you see things from his/her perspective?
  • Act jealous of your friends, family, or co-workers or try to isolate you from them?
  • Try to control what you wear or how you style your hair?
  • Check-up on what you’re doing by calling, driving by, or getting someone else to?
  • Read your mail or email, check your cell phone log, or go through your personal belongings?
  • Act very different when you are alone together than when you are around other people?
  • Hit walls, drive dangerously, or do other things that scare you?
  • Try to control the money in the relationship (e.g. keeping you financially dependent or being dependent on you and then messing up your credit)?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your children, family, friends, or pets?
  • Force you to have sex when you do not want to or in ways that you don’t feel comfortable with?
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you leave?

Do you:
  • Feel like you're "walking on eggshells" around your partner?
  • Feel worse about yourself now than when you started the relationship?
  • Feel emotionally or physically unsafe with your partner?
  • Have trouble ending the relationship, even though you know inside it's the right thing to do?