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Domestic Violence - What is it?



What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of violent and/or coercive behaviors that a person uses against an intimate partner in order to gain power and control in that relationship. The behaviors exerted can include physical, sexual, emotional and economic abuse.

Domestic violence is not about losing control or an inability to manage anger. It is about the misuse or abuse of power to exert control over another human being. The most common forms of domestic violence are:

  • Physical assaults/battery

  • Sexual assault, including pressured, coerced, or forced sex

  • Psychological/emotional abuse

  • Threats of violence against the victim, others, or self

  • Destruction of property

  • Violence against pets

  • Stalking and harassment

  • Intimidation, humiliation, degradation

  • Isolation

  • Economic coercion

  • Use of children to control the adult victim

  • Exploitation or belittlement

  • Threats or use of weapons

  • Other forms of oppression


How Prevalent is Domestic Violence?
Studies have revealed that:

  • Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is battered.

  • The leading cause of death in pregnant women is homicide.

  • Domestic violence is the single most common cause of injury to women, more than auto accidents, rapes and muggings combined.

  • Every year three to four million women are beaten by their husbands or boyfriends, and every day, an average of three die.

  • Women of all races are vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner

  • Nearly 25 percent of American women report being raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, or date at some time in their lifetime.

  • Twenty to thirty percent of visits by women to emergency rooms are the result of battering by their husbands or boyfriends.

  • More than a quarter of a million women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy.

  • Annually, at least half a million women are stalked by an intimate partner.

Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. National crime survey data shows that men commit 95 percent of all assaults on female spouses or girlfriends. In 2001, women accounted for 85 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence and men accounted for approximately 15 percent of the victims. Women are much more likely than men to be killed by an intimate partner.

Forty percent of all women murdered are killed by their husbands or boyfriends whereas less than four percent of murders of men are from intimate partner abuse.

The estimate is that 10 percent of all men killed are murdered by an intimate partner, with a significant percentage attributed to a woman acting in self-defense.


How do I know if someone is a Victim of Domestic Violence?
There are sometimes warning signs that domestic violence is occurring in a relationship.
These warning signs can include:

  • One partner frequently checks up on the other (by listening in on phone calls, constantly asking about whereabouts, calling a person at work all day, checking a person's car mileage).

  • One partner not allowing the other to have guests over to the home when the other partner is not present (this can include family or friends).

  • Visible injuries or an attempt to cover or hide injuries.

  • One partner putting the other down (name-calling, public or private humiliation, or making the other partner feel crazy).

  • Evidence of destruction of property such as holes in walls, broken furniture, or doors and windows that do not latch.

  • One partner trying to control or isolate the other, for example, by telling her not to see certain friends or family members, keeping her away from school or work, making her stay home when she wants to go out.

  • One partner acting jealous or possessive.

  • One partner cutting off utilities or denying access of the telephone to the other.

  • One partner threatening to hurt the other partner, or that partner’s friends, family members, or pets.

  • One partner forcing the other to engage in sexual activities in ways or at times that are uncomfortable.

  • Displaying anger in a way that scares the other partner or others.

  • One partner blaming the other for all of the family’s problems.

  • The use of dominating or intimidating body language.

  • One partner minimizing or denying the concerns of the other.

A lack of police incident reports or arrests is not an indication that intimate partner violence has not happened. Law enforcement is rarely involved with families where domestic violence is occurring. It has been suggested that the most lethal and dangerous situations never come to law enforcement or other system attention.



This site has been underwritten by a grant from One Child International Inc. of Palm Beach County, Florida.
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