Do you have a question about domestic violence? Please review the questions below along with some important answers.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of one partner controlling another through threats and abuse. It is a learned behavior; it can be unlearned if the abuser takes responsibility for his actions and seeks help. This broad definition can alert you to the early signs of escalating emotional and verbal brutality found in domestic violence, even before you witness or suffer a physical assault.

Who are the Victims?

Married and unmarried, wealthy and low income, gay straight and lesbian, young and old, spanning all religious, ethnic and racial groups. 85% of reported victims are women; that’s why this page refers to abusers as male and victims as female. 

Who are the abusers?

They can be from any walk of life and be friendly, solidly employed and churchgoers. Red flags include: jealousy, explosive temper, constant criticism, and difficulty expressing feelings, controlling behavior, childhood exposure to abuse destruction of property, threats and physically abusive acts.

How widespread is it?

A woman is assaulted by her partner every nine seconds in the U.S. There are four million victims a year. 30% of all female murder victims are slain by their male partners. One in three Americans say they have witnessed domestic violence.

How can I identify it?

Identifying verbal abuse or physical violence is simple. But be alert to indirect evidence of domestic violence so that intervention can occur as early and safely as possible. Is someone you know:

  • Afraid of her partner?

  • Constantly apologizing for her partner’s behavior?

  • Unable to go out with friends or family because of her partner’s jealousy?

  • Ever forced to have sex?

  • Denied money or barred from getting a job?

  • Threatened with arrest or being reported to the authorities by her partner?

  • Hit, kicked, shoved or had things thrown at her? Ever been kept from leaving a room by resistant or been blocked at a doorway?

Is there a pattern to it?

Domestic violence is not an isolated event. Each incident builds on what has happened before and the abuses become more frequent and sever. Remember, it is not about anger, drunkenness or drugs but about control of a partner. The violence is not always physical. It can include:

  • Verbal abuse that humiliates or demeans;

  • Emotional Abuse like threats, stalking, extreme jealousy, controlling behavior and isolation from others;

  • Economic abuse that traps a partner in poverty or debt, prevents a partner from working or having access to money;

  • Sexual Abuse, including forced sex, harsh sexual criticism, and flagrant public “cheating”;

  • Physical Abuse like hitting, strangling kicking, pinching, hair-pulling, arm twisting, tripping, biting, restraining, shoving or using weapons.

Is it a crime?

Physical assault and battery are crimes no matter where they take place-on the street or in the home. So are harassment, stalking and sexual assault. Abusers are arrested and jailed. Law Enforcement agencies in our area consider domestic violence a very serious crime and hold perpetrators accountable for their actions.

Is there ever any excuse?

Batters often come up with excuses and frequently blame the victim, deny the abuse and minimize the severity of their violence. There is never an excuse for abusing anyone and no possible reason for brutality or coercion in a “loving” relationship. We all get angry at people we care for. But domestic violence tends to swing between brutality and “making up,” with the level of abuse always rising. It is all about control, not equality.

What can I do?

If you believe someone is in physical danger, call 911-just as you’d want someone to do for you. If you suspect that someone is trapped in a pattern of domestic violence, call a domestic violence hot line for insight and advice. You need not give your name. The staff at the hotline can help you think through what to say or do to help the victim find safety. Even if you don’t know anyone who’s being abused, you can still create a safer clime by getting the word out in the community.

Are there things NOT to say to a women in an abusive relationship?

It doesn’t help to start planning a rescue or escape for her. Ask, rather than tell her what YOU think is going on. And don’t start criticizing her partner however much you may feel he deserves it. (The best way to show you are on her side is by staying out of the business of the relationship itself. If she was able to confront him and leave she would have already have done it.) The idea is to gently break through the isolation she is living in and offer a bridge she can use when she chooses.