Understanding Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive
behaviors that one partner uses against a current or former
intimate partner. It happens in relationships where the abuser and
the victim are currently or were previously dating, living
together, married or divorced.
Domestic violence is purposeful behavior. A batterer's pattern
of abusive acts is directed at gaining and maintaining control over
the victim. Tactics that work to control the victim are carefully
chosen by the batterer, aiming to permeate every aspect of the
Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, are
predominantly female and are likely to take the blame for the
battering or feel responsible.
Perpetrators of domestic violence also come from all walks of
life, have the capacity to be very charming, move quickly into
relationships and have a need for power and control. They use both
charm and assault behaviors to gain control over their victim.
Methods of power and control include:
- Verbal abuse & threats
- Destruction of property
- Physical battering
- Sexual abuse and coercion
- Financial control
Leaving is not easy. It involves many internal and external
A complex combination of psychological, cultural, religious,
familial and financial factors contribute to a victim's decision to
remain in or leave an abusive relationship. Behind fear, domestic
violence victims frequently cite income, employment and financial
stability as the strongest, most immediate deterrents to leaving
abusive situations. The devastation of leaving a home, income,
benefits and economic security behind are scenarios that all
victims of domestic violence must overcome, regardless of their
education, job skills and personal earning potential, if they are
to care for their families and live more safe and secure lives.
Victims and survivors of domestic violence struggle for economic
empowerment in every community in this nation. Survivors and
current victims of domestic violence are over-represented in the
welfare population, and many women and children are homeless
because of domestic violence.
However, leaving an abusive situation often increases risk.
- Batterers escalate in their assaultive and coercive behaviors
when the victim is trying to separate.
- The majority of homicides occur when the victim has left the
abuser or is attempting to leave.
- The risk of being assaulted or stalked in the workplace
increases as this is often one of the places the batterer is sure
to find the victim.
Help is available 24 hours a day by calling the National
Domestic Violence Hotline telephone number at 1-800-799-SAFE
(7233). (Or call the hotline's TTY number at 1-800-787-3224.)
Looking for help in a specific state? Click here for a list of
Check out national organizations committed to ending domestic