Domestic violence is a deliberate pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, that one intimate partner does to another to gain power and maintain control.
It is not marital conflict, a lover’s quarrel, or just a private family matter. It is a serious social problem. The batterer may be a husband, ex-husband, boyfriend, partner (including same sex), ex-partner, or a housemate. Abuse and violence are learned behaviors.
- Physical abuse – includes slapping, hitting, kicking, choking, grabbing, pinching, shoving, punching, etc. or the use of a weapon; also includes being forced to use alcohol or drugs.
- Sexual abuse – includes any coerced or forced sexual contact, undermining a person’s sexuality, unprotected sex, and rape in marriage.
- Verbal/emotional abuse – includes name-calling, insults, put- downs, threats, belittling, silent treatment, criticism etc.
- Psychological abuse – includes intimidation, isolation from family and friends, harassing, and/or attempts to control one’s behavior.
- Destroying possessions or treasured objects, hitting walls, breaking doors, abusing and /or killing one’s pets are acts of psychological domestic violence.
- Economic abuse – includes attempts to make someone financially dependent i.e. withholding money, keeping someone from working or school, harassing someone at work, controlling all incomes, and requiring justification for any monies spent.
- Legal abuse – includes dragging out legal/custody proceedings, refusing to pay support or alimony, withholding assets, and fighting for custody solely to maintain control over the victim’s whereabouts.
The effects of abuse are serious: Victims of domestic violence may suffer short term and long term symptoms of isolation, depression, low self-esteem, physical illness, withdrawal, anger or rage, confusion or chronic fear. Without intervention domestic violence will escalate and can lead to the serious injury or death of the victim and / or the batterer.
Abuse may occur frequently or infrequently, but in most cases it tends to escalate in severity and frequency over time.
- Constantly criticize you and your abilities as a spouse or partner, parent or employee?
- Behave in an over-protective manner or become extremely jealous?
- Threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or himself?
- Prevent you from seeing family or friends?
- Get suddenly angry or lose his temper?
- Destroy personal property or throw things around?
- Deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards, or the car, or control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
- Withhold medication or deny you access to health care?
- Threaten to reveal your HIV status?
- Force you to work in jobs not of your choosing?
- Use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, shove, choke or bite you?
- Deny you access to your immigration documents?
- Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you want to?
- Make you have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually that you don’t want to do?
- Control your expression of gender identity or sexual orientation?
- Threaten to out you if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transsexual?
- Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence.