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.