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About Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is the leading cause of injury to women ages 15 - 44 in the United States - more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.

  • 1 in 3 women will experience domestic violence over the course of their lifetime.
  • 1 in 3 teenage girls will be physically assaulted by a boyfriend.
  • Domestic violence is the leading predictor of child abuse.
  • Boys who witness domestic violence in their homes are more likely to perpetrate abuse later in life.
  • 50% of girls growing up in an abusive home will go on to experience abuse as an adult.

Domestic violence occurs when one person in an intimate relationship exercises power and control over the other through a pattern of intentional behaviors, including psychological, emotional, physical and sexual abuse. There is no way to define a “typical” victim of domestic violence - it can affect anyone from any socioeconomic, demographic, geographic or educational background. The greatest risk factor for victimization is simply being a woman.

While most people are able to recognize an abusive relationship when it involves physical violence, relationships involving psychological or emotional abuse are more subtle, but no less destructive. If allowed to continue, these behaviors can escalate to include more physically dangerous abuse over time. It is important to recognize key characteristics of domestic violence so that abuse can be stopped before it becomes threatening.

The Power and Control Wheel helps us understand the different ways an abusive partner can use power and control to manipulate a relationship. Each part of the wheel explains different tactics perpetrators use both physically and mentally.

The progression of violence is outlined below, and includes repeated use of one or more of the following behaviors:

Verbal Abuse

  • Name-calling
  • Put downs
  • Yelling
  • Use of Profanity
  • Unfounded accusations
  • Cruel and hurtful remarks
  • Degrading the victim in public
  • Diminishing accomplishments
  • Flying into rages

Physical Abuse

  • Choking / Strangulation
  • Holding the victim against her will
  • Throwing or breaking objects
  • Pushing
  • Shoving
  • Slapping
  • Biting
  • Punching
  • Kicking
  • Using a weapon or threatening to use a weapon
  • Murder

Emotional Abuse

  • Isolation
  • Ignoring
  • Controlling finances or employment
  • Lack of trust/suspicion
  • Following or stalking the victim
  • Criticizing
  • Threats of suicide
  • Threats of taking away children
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Threats of murder
  • Minimizes or denies behavior, explosive or critical reactions

Sexual Abuse

  • Rape
  • Forcing unwanted sexual acts
  • Use of weapons during sex
  • Forced sex involving multiple partners
  • Inflicts pain during sex
  • Video recording sex acts without permission
  • Threatening to post personal pictures without permission