What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior used by the abuser to gain or maintain control over the victim. Domestic violence happens in all religions, races, age groups, sexual orientations, social classes, economic backgrounds and education levels. It can occur between partners who are married, living together, dating or those who are no longer in a relationship together.
There are different types of abuse. Abuse can include:
- Physical abuse: hitting, grabbing, shoving, throwing, punching, biting, or hair-pulling. Holding someone down during an argument or blocking a doorway so they can’t leave is also domestic violence. Abusers will often injure a victim in places on her body that can be hidden by clothes, hair or make-up. Physical abuse also includes denying the victim medical attention or forcing the victim to use drugs or alcohol.
- Emotional abuse is abuse. It can include constant criticism, humiliation, name-calling or making the victim think she is crazy.
- Sexual abuse can include forcing a victim to have sex when she does not want to, expecting sex on demand, injuring sexual parts of the body, or forcing the victim to do sexually humiliating acts.
- Economic abuse can force a victim to be financially dependent on her abuser, making it difficult to leave the situation. Economic abuse can include not allowing the victim to work or have access to money, forcing the victim to give her money to the abuser, withholding information about family finances or not allowing the victim to have a say in how money is spent.
Common characteristics of domestic abuse:
- Isolation: The abuser isolates the victim from family and friends, sometimes using jealousy to justify controlling where a victim goes, who she sees or who she talks to.
- Intimidation: The abuser intimidates the victim by smashing things, punching walls, threatening or abusing children and pets, displaying weapons, or even through threatening looks or gestures.
- The abuser makes all big decisions. The victim has little to no say in the relationship or the household.
- The abuser minimizes the abuse by saying it didn’t happen or wasn’t a big deal, blaming the victim for making the abuser angry or saying the victim made the abuser do something because of the victim’s actions or words.
- The abuser threatens to have the children taken away from the victim or uses visitation to harass the victim.
- The abuser threatens suicide if the victim leaves, or threatens to kill the victim if she leaves.
If you are being abused and need a safe person to talk to, please call our hotline at 970-668-3906 (locally) or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233). You are not alone and you don’t have to go through this by yourself. All domestic violence programs have staff who can help you think through the things you need to stay safe. They can help you make a safety plan or get a protection order. Domestic Violence Advocates believe that you are the expert on your own life.
- Talk about your situation with a friend or relative you trust. That person may be able to offer you support. Establish a code word or sign that you can use to let friends, family, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
- Plan with your children. Identify a safe place for them, such as a room with a lock or a neighbor’s house. Assure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
- If you feel safe to leave take important items with you. You may want to pack these items in advance and keep them at the home of a friend or relative.
Please call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800.799.SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224 to discuss your concerns and questions.