Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is the physical, emotional, psychological,and/or sexual abuse of one person by another with whom there is a relationship. Abusers use violence and threats of violence to gain power and control over their partners. Violence is never appropriate. Domestic violence can range from verbal harassment to homicide. Interviews with hundreds of victims by domestic violence professionals revealed common patterns of batterer behavior. Batterers attempt to gain power and control over their victims using a number of different strategies. Physical and sexual violence are the most extreme and frightening of the tactics that batterers use to dominate their victims.

Domestic violence is not only about physical assault. Batterers often use other kinds of psychological tactics to gain control over their partners. Someone may be a victim of domestic violence when the abusive partner is using tactics to gain power and control in the relationship, even when there has not been physical violence.

The following are examples of abusive behavior. Do any of these behaviors apply to you or someone you know?


  • Pushing, punching, slapping, kicking,biting, strangling
  • Pulling hair, pinching, burning, cutting, whipping
  • Throwing objects
  • Using a weapon


  • Making degrading remarks about you, your appearance or your family
  • Constant criticism (name calling, put-downs, ridiculing, blaming)
  • Yelling, swearing, humiliating you in public
  • Accusing you of flirting or having an affair
  • Harassment (constant calls, checking up on you at home or work)
  • Treating you like a servant

Threats and Intimidation
(can be verbal, non-verbal or implied):

  • Pressure tactics (using guilt or accusations, threatening you that he will have an affair, turning friends/relatives against you)
  • Tracking your every move; checking telephone bills; checking mileage on car
  • Destroying possessions/breaking furniture
  • Threatening to take children away
  • Threatening to kill you, family members or pets
  • Threatening to commit suicide

Sexual Abuse:

  • Forcing or threatening to force you to perform sexual acts
  • Physically attacking or injuring sexual parts of your body
  • Rape

Economic Abuse:

  • Withholding money, denying access to money, checks and important financial documents
  • Making you account for spending, checking receipts, and counting change
  • Forcing you to ask for money
  • Demanding that you turn over your paycheck or stealing your money


  • Alienating you from or forbidding you to see or speak with relatives/friends
  • Forbidding you from working or attending school
  • Disabling the car or removing car keys
  • Disconnecting or not allowing use of the telephone
  • Locking you in the house or in a room

Use of Children:

  • Withholding help with childcare
  • Threatening to take your children away from you
  • Using visitation to harass you • Telling children lies about you
  • Withholding financial support for children
  • Threatening to report you to child protective services
  • Physically or sexually abusing you in front of the children or abusing the children in front of you