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What is Domestic Violence?

The U.S. Department of Justice defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the abusers partner.  Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological and includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.

  • Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, pulling hair, and other physical assault.

  • Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent or treating a partner in a sexually demeaning manner.

  • Emotional Abuse: Undermining a partner's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem through behaviors such as constant criticism or name-calling.

  • Economic Abuse: When an abuser tries to make an individual financially dependent by controlling financial resources, denying access to money, or forbidding attendance at school or employment.

  • Psychological Abuse: Causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical violence to self, partner, children, or partner's family or friends; destruction of pets and property; and forcing isolation.

    Domestic violence can happen to anyone. The reach of domestic violence extends beyond the person experiencing it. Domestic violence impacts family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community. A child who grows up witnessing domestic violence experiences many social and physical problems and learns that violence is normal, increasing the danger of becoming the next generation of victims and abusers.

    Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women