Domestic Violence
The other half of the Family Violence Cycle

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Domestic Violence: Key Points


  • Ways in Which a Person May be Victimized

  • Effects of Domestic Violence on Children

Ways in Which a Person May be Victimized

Emotional Abuse

  • Telling the victim’s family or friends lies about her

  • Belittling, embarrassing, or humiliating her in front of family and friends

  • Making her feel guilty for all the problems in the family

  • Accusing her of trying to attract or of sleeping with other people

Economic Abuse

  • Preventing her from getting or keeping a job

  • Forcing her to work "under the table" when she does not have a work permit or
    threatening to report her for working illegally

  • Preventing her from obtaining job training or schooling

  • Forcing her to sign papers that she does not understand, including legal documents

  • Requiring her to ask for money or taking the money she has earned

  • Preventing access to bank accounts or other income

  • Not filing papers in order for her to gain legal or working status in the country


  • Making her afraid by using looks, actions, gestures

  • Destroying property, including items with special meaning to her or the children

  • Abusing pets

  • Displaying or past use of weapons

  • Hiding or destroying important papers, including health care cards, driver's license,
    passport, or immigration papers

Coercion and Threats

  • Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt her, her children, friends, or family members

  • Threatening to harm or harass her employer or co-workers

  • Threatening to leave her or to commit suicide if she leaves

  • Threatening to withdraw immigration papers that legalize her residency or report her

  • undocumented status to the authorities

  • Threatening to take the children away or out of the country

  • Threatening to make her look crazy and like she is a bad parent by calling police, children’s services, or a psychiatrist about her if she tells anyone about the abuse


  • Controlling what she does, who she sees, what she reads, and where she goes

  • Limiting her involvement outside the home

  • Not allowing her to learn English or keeping her from friends or family who speak her language

  • Using jealousy to justify actions

  • Not permitting her to partake in activities that are important to her

Minimizing, Denying & Blaming

  • Making light of abuse and not taking her concerns about it seriously

  • Denying that the abuse is happening

  • Shifting responsibility for the abusive behavior

  • Saying she caused the violence

Effects of Domestic Violence on Children 


  • Feeling guilty for the abuse and for not stopping it

  • Grieving for family and personal losses

  • Confusion regarding conflicting feelings toward the parents

  • Fearful of abandonment, expressing feelings, the unknown, or of personal injury

  • Angry about the violence and the chaos in their lives

  • Depressed, feeling helpless and powerless

  • Embarrassed about events and dynamics at home


  • Believe they are responsible for the violence

  • Blame others for their own behaviors

  • Believe that it is acceptable to hit people they care for to get what they want, to express

  • their anger, to feel powerful, or to get others to meet their needs

  • Have a low self concept originating from a sense of family powerlessness

  • Do not ask for what they need, let alone what they want

  • Do not trust

  • Feeling angry is bad, because people get hurt

  • Rigid stereotypes, for example to be a boy be a girl means. .to be a man, woman, husband, wife means

Behavioral (often seen in opposite extremes)

  • Act out vs. withdraw

  • Overachiever vs. underachiever

  • Refusal to go to school

  • Caretaking, more concern for others than self - parent substitute

  • Aggressive vs. passive

  • Rigid defenses (aloof, sarcastic, defensive, "black and white thinking")

  • Excessive attention seeking (often using extreme behaviors)

  • Bedwetting and nightmares

  • Out of control behavior, not able to set own limits or follow directions


  • Isolated from friends and relatives

  • Relationships are frequently stormy, start intensely and end abruptly

  • Difficulty in trusting, especially adults

  • Poor conflict resolution and anger management skills

  • Excessive social involvement (to avoid home life)

  • May be passive with peers, or bully peers

  • Engage in exploitive relationships either as perpetrator or victim

  • Play with peers gets exceedingly rough


  • Somatic complaints (headaches, stomachaches)

  • Nervous, anxious and a short attention span

  • Tired, lethargic

  • Frequently ill

  • Poor personal hygiene

  • Regression in development tasks (bedwetting, thumb sucking - depending on age)

  • Desensitization to pain

  • High risk play and activities

  • Self abuse



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