What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic abuse is when a person (The Abuser) controls, hurts, coerces, punishes, and/or intimidates an intimate partner or family member. This can be a one time occurrence but is usually a pattern of behavior created by the abuser’s desire for power and control.  Also it is very common as three out of four Americans know someone who is or who has been a victim of domestic abuse.  One in four women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime.  

The abuse is not always violent or physical, it can be emotional, verbal, psychological, sexual, and/or financial in nature.  Unfortunately, this type of abusive situation rarely improves over time without some form of intervention - in fact in America alone statistics show that 3 women are killed by either former or current intimate partners EVERY DAY.  75% of the deaths related to intimate partner violence occur while the victim is attempting to leave. This is why it is important to be aware of the signs and to reach out and help using a safety plan.

Domestic violence is not confined to any one socioeconomic, ethnic, religious, sexual orientation, racial or age group and knows no geographic or educational boundaries. However, women do account for 85% of the victims reported in these incidents.  Domestic abuse is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.

Types of Abuse

Purple Reign Campaign Everyday Heroes Against Domestic Abuse

Physical Abuse - is the easiest form to recognise.  Actions may  include:

  • Pushing, shoving, or shaking
  • Slapping, hitting, or punching
  • Beating, torture
  • Cutting, stabbing
  • Kicking, tripping
  • Choking or strangling
  • Restraining with force, imprisonment, tying up
  • Throwing the victim, throwing objects, throwing objects at the victim
  • Abandonment in a dangerous place
  • Grabbing roughly, twisting of the arm
  • Taking "playful wrestling" too far, pinching, poking, pulling hair
  • Subjecting to reckless driving
  • Attacking or threatening with weapons
  • Scratching, biting, bruising, or spitting
  • Burning or scalding
  • Refusing to help when the victim is sick, injured or pregnant, or withholding medication or medical treatment.
  • Starvation, withholding food as punishment, force feeding
  • Shooting, drowning, attempted murder, and murder
  • Destruction of property
  • Using any object to inflict pain, punishment, or to intimidate
  • Any use of physical force resulting in physical injury

Psychological or Emotional Abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. 
This type of abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. Examples include:

  • Verbal abusive behaviors:
    • Yelling, foul language, swearing, name-calling
    • Constant criticism, sarcastic, belittling and degrading remarks/comments intended as put downs (either alone or to humiliate in front of others)
    • Blaming
    • Shaming
    • Using a threatening tone of voice
    • Threats (of physical violence, towards children and pets, to destroy property or reputation, or ruin job)
    • Manipulating with lies, threats, and intimidation
    • Interrogating
    • Decision making for the victim
    • Attacking victim’s vulnerabilities, such as language abilities, educational level, skills as a parent, religious and cultural beliefs, physical appearance, and/or race/heritage
    • Accusations of infidelity
  • Nonverbal abusive behaviors:
    • Isolation
    • Intimidation
    • Controlling
    • Being ignored or given the “silent treatment”
    • Withholding approval, appreciation or affection as punishment
    • Jealously, excessive possessiveness
    • Playing mind games
    • Stalking
    • “Virtual” stalking by use of email, social networking, and other forms of technology
    • Monitoring victims phone calls, texts, emails, social networking, and monitoring other forms of victims communication and actions
    • Setting time limits
    • Preventing victim from leaving the house
    • Disconnecting the phone
    • Hiding the car keys
    • Preventing victim from going to a place of worship or from praying
    • Abusing a pet
    • Destroying victim's treasures

Sexual Abuse (in terms of domestic violence) is forced sexual contact between persons who have had consensual sexual interaction before. Abusive behaviors may include:

  • Rape, forcing sex or specific sexual acts, sexual violence
  • Forced sex for money
  • Minimizing the importance of a partner’s feelings towards sex
  • Criticizing partner's sexual performance
  • Publicly showing sexual interest in other people
  • Sexual/degrading name calling
  • Forcing removal of clothing, stripping
  • Touching in ways that make the victim feel uncomfortable, unwanted fondling and touching
  • Treating members of a particular gender as objects
  • Jealousy, angry and assumes the victim will have sex with anyone and accuses the victim of promiscuity or infidelity
  • Withholding sex and affection as punishment
  • Insisting that the partner dresses in a more sexual way than comfortable
  • Coercing sex by manipulation or threats
  • Coercing victim into sexual acts that they are uncomfortable with, such as sex with a third party, physically painful sex, sexual activity that the victim finds offensive, or verbal degradation during sex
  • Inflicting injuries that are sex-specific
  • Denies the victim contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Telling sexist, homophobic, or racial jokes to humiliate, embarrass, intimidate, or hurt

Financial or Economic Abuse -
firmly keeps the victim under control of the abuser by the following behaviors which can leave them financially dependent on the abuser:

  • Strict allowances
  • Forced to give strict accounts/receipts for all money spent
  • Being denied money needed to buy food and other essentials
  • Stealing money from the victim
  • Being sabotaged at work by constant calls or kept from reporting to work.
  • Controlling the finances
  • Withholding money and/or credit cards
  • Exploiting assets for personal gain
  • Withholding basic necessities such as food, clothes, medications, and shelter

Physical Abuse