What is domestic violence, what is abuse?

Webster's Dictionary defines it as 'exertion of physical force, vehement feeling, expression, coercion, infringement or constraint over another' person that the attacker knows. But what exactly does it mean and how do I know whether I am, or someone I care for is experiencing it?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of behavior that includes the use of or threat of violence and intimidation in order to gain power and control over another person. Violence is not just about bruises and black eyes. Domestic Violence is not always perpetrated in male/female relationships; it can happen in same-sex relationships. Domestic violence also can occur in teen relationships. In a few cases, women can perpetrate violence against their male partners. Domestic Violence occurs in every country, every race, every religion, every class and salary bracket and in every neighborhood; even yours. Violence in the home does not just happen to the poor, minority folks on the 'wrong side of the tracks', as is so often portrayed. However, it is women who live in poverty who face the greatest challenges in leaving due to financial, educational, culture and language barriers.

Does someone you love ...

  • ...  threaten to hurt you, your children, your family or your pets?
  • ...  put you down in private or public, or keep you from contacting your family and friends?
  • ...  say it's your fault when he or she hurts you or say it won't happen again (but it does)?
  • ...  throw you down, push, hit, choke, kick, slap you, or break your things?
  • ...  force you to have sex when you don't want to?

Yes, to any of those questions could mean that you are in a violent relationship. But you are not alone, you Do Not deserve it and you Do have options. (read on for further info.)

  • The latest statistic states that one in three women will experience domestic violence in any of its forms by an intimate partner in their lifetimes.
  • One-third of high school and college students experience violence in a relationship during their dating years.
  • 3.3 million Children are exposed to Domestic Violence every year.
  • Men who batter their wives are likely to assault their children, too.
  • Often the violence is most lethal when the victim is leaving the relationship and often continues even after the relationship has ended.
  • Almost 50% of all homeless women and children are fleeing violence in the home.
  • The most frequent and most dangerous calls that police officers receive are Domestic Violence related.

Love & Respect Isn't:

  • Expecting all your needs to be met
  • Manipulation
  • Proving yourself
  • Fear
  • Scoring
  • Intimidation
  • Giving up yourself
  • Dependency
  • Cruelty
  • Selfishness and obsession
  • Empty, emotionless sex
  • Violence and pain
  • Jealously and possessiveness
  • Taking
  • See Violence-Power and Control Chart

Love & Respect Is:

  • Vulnerability and openness
  • Pleasure
  • Responsibility and commitment
  • Communication
  • Honesty and caring
  • Trust and respect
  • Sharing
  • Compromising
  • Closeness
  • Recognizing/Honoring Differences
  • Expressing emotional sexuality
  • Friendship
  • Strong positive feelings
  • Giving
  • See Non-Violence-Equality Chart

How can I tell if someone is or could potentially be an Abuser?

Just as their Victims, Domestic Violence offenders come in every race and physical size. They are from every country, educational level, occupational background, and religious group. Although there is no way to "pick out" an abuser from any other person on the street, there are some classic characteristics that can be common denominators.

  • They believe that the use of violence or abusive behavior is acceptable to gain control over their partner.
  • They think their charm, behavior or status (real or imagined) makes them invisible or not punishable.
  • They deny they have any problems.
  • They blame others for their behavior, especially the victim.
  • They try very hard to get sympathy from others by making up stories about how hard their life or relationship is.
  • They portray a perfect or 'too good to be true' image and seem very reasonable.
  • They have witnessed abuse in their home growing up and may abuse their own children and family members.
  • They treat other people, even those close to them, with a lack of respect and kindness.
  • They have difficulty in controlling their temper, explode and then apologize profusely and try to make up. Will go to great lengths to justify their unusual behavior.

Where can one turn for additional information or help?

If you or someone you know is in an unhealthy or unsafe relationship there is help and options of your choosing for you. You can keep yourself safe and end the cycle of violence. No one deserves to live their life in pain; you deserve to be safe in your own home or workplace or church or public place. You deserve to be safe in life. Knowledge is power, gather information and empower yourself so that you can make the best and safest decision for you and your family. The right information, at the right time can help you make the right decision for you-only you can make that decision.

If you are in immediate danger, please contact 911 first. The Toll-Free 24 Hour National Emergency Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) is always available and has advocates to assist you and provide information in more than 20 languages. There is a State Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Every State in the U.S. that can connect you with information, resources and connections to shelters, programs and services in your state. Please see the Resources page on this website for further information and hotlinks to other sites. If you or someone you know needs help, please get help somewhere. Reach out, there is information and assistance available for you.