Domestic Violence Explained

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as: violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic setting, such as in marriage or cohabitation. Also known as intimate partner violence, it is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another. These behaviors include physical harm, fear tactics, isolation, and/or forcing their partner to do things they do not want to do. Behaviors are any type of violence, threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, and/or economic deprivation. Most times, you will see combinations of different types of abuse happening in a relationship.

Survivor: the individual who is being targeted for abuse.
Abuser: the individual who is inflicting the abuse.


According to the Center for Disease Control, 85% of survivors are women assaulted by male partners. It is important to remember, however, that in the other 15% of cases, men assaulted by women or men and women in same-sex relationships may be the survivors. These men and women may face additional isolation and fear due to social attitudes toward gender roles and/or sexual orientation. 

Domestic violence can happen at any age, race, socioeconomic status, or religious status. You do not have to be married to experience this - you can be dating or living together.

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The Warning Signs

In a lot of cases, your partner may seem perfect in the beginning of the relationship. This makes it harder to notice the warning signs. You usually don’t see the controlling behaviors all at once, it is a gradual process that intensifies the longer you are together. Keep in mind - domestic violence does not always look the same across different relationships because each individual is different. The most common factor you will see is that the abusive partner will do things to get and maintain control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right

  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away

  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members

  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs

  • Controls every penny spent in the household

  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses

  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you

  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do

  • Prevents you from making your own decisions

  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children

  • Prevents you from working or attending school

  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets

  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons

  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with

  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

If you experience even just one type of these behaviors in your relationship, this is a red flag that abuse may be present. Any type of abuse is serious and no one deserves to experience abuse of any kind. If you have concerns about what is happening in your relationship, you can call the domestic violence hotline @ (800) 799-SAFE, where advocates are available 24/7. All calls are free and confidential. You can also receive the same support through live chat services - click here.

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