Information about Domestic Violence

Everyone has the right to feel safe and no one deserves to be abused!

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (DV) refers to a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another within a relationship. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrator — of domestic violence. 

People who cause harm in relationships systematically use threats, intimidation, coercion, and other forms of violence to instill fear in others. Power and control refers to the actions and fear tactics that one individual uses to intentionally dominate or manipulate another.  

Intimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. “Intimate partner” refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners. IPV can vary in how often it happens and how severe it is. It can range from one episode of violence that could have a lasting impact to chronic and severe episodes over multiple years. 

People who cause harm may use different forms of abuse to maintain power and control. Behaviors that cause harm can include:  

  • Non-physical abuse may be harder to recognize but should be taken just as seriously as physical abuse. Non-physical abuse can include emotional abuse, economic abuse, coercion and intimidation, and isolation. 
  • Emotional abuse can include insults, constant criticism, extreme jealousy, lack of trust, possessive monitoring of whereabouts and contacts, threats of suicide or personal harm, and gaslighting
  • Economic abuse includes controlling or monitoring any aspect of finances. This may include behaviors such as providing an allowance, closely watching spending, and checking receipts, limiting or preventing work, stealing from personal and savings accounts, harming credits scores, refusing to contribute financially, or forcing the other partner to support them. 
  • Coercion and intimidation are fear tactics that sometimes may not appear abusive or intentional. Some examples of coercion and intimidation in an abusive relationship can include an abusive partner providing compliments that influence their partner’s decision-making, apologizing following harm, driving by the other partner's location unannounced, nagging pressure, smashing items and punching walls, easily accessing to weapons or cleaning them, or watching or discussing violent media. 
  • Individuals in abusive relationships are often isolated from family, friends, and other support systems emotionally and physically. Abusive partners may intentionally ruin other relationships, prevent contact, not allow their partner to spend time with others, or move them away. All abusive tactics can be used to influence this and being isolated from support can increase the emotional impact and physical severity of abuse.  
  • Physical abuse can include hitting, punching, biting, (etc.) It can also include other behaviors such as interrupting healthy sleeping or eating routines, driving dangerously or abandoning passengers, forced drug use or alcohol consumption, withholding prescription medications, or preventing contact to emergency services for medical attention or law enforcement intervention. 
    • High-risk situations may include strangulation, loss of consciousness or bladder control, uncontrollable bleeding, gun violence, and any assault while pregnant. While seeking medical attention can be difficult for survivors of abuse, it is extremely important to have serious injury monitored by a health professional. 
  • Non-consensual, unwanted, or forced physical intimacy is sexual abuse. This may include explicit names or sexual insults, manipulation or coercion into sex or sex acts, refusing or preventing methods of birth control, non-consensual physical harm, strangulation, or restraint during intimacy, and intimacy while under the diminished influence of drugs or alcohol. 

Additional Information about Strangulation

If you were choked or strangled, it can be a terrifying experience and very dangerous. Even if you don't have any marks, serious injuries can happen under the skin, worsen over the next few days, and cause long-term dangerous injury and even death. 

Supporting Someone Experiencing Abuse

Always remember there are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships; leaving a partner who is abusive can be extremely dangerous.

  • Ask how you can help - and listen to the survivor's answer! Individuals experiencing harm are the experts in surviving their relationship, and the first way to support safety is by respecting their needs.
  • Help to create a safety plan, talk through all possible situations and reactions that may cause harm. Thinking through situations before they happen can help promote safety, alert wanted help, and avoid confusion. 
  • Encourage resources that offer support. There are advocates available 24/7 that can speak with anyone experiencing abuse at any stage in the relationship. Domestic violence can be difficult for everyone impacted, don't forget to take care of yourself. Self-care and healing are an important step to staying healthy.  


Safety Planning

It can be hard to think when you are in crisis; having a safety plan in place can help protect yourself, a friend, or others during an emergency.

Some examples of what to consider while safety planning include: 

  • Speaking out about what has happened to you. This could be a trusted friend, a close family member, your doctor, or a victim advocate. 
  • Thinking about who and how you can contact help in an emergency – phones without an active plan still call 911, store extra chargers & keep devices charged, consider code words/phrases to alert friends or family members, speak with neighbors about if/when to contact 911.
  • Clearing internet history or phone conversations, checking location sharing and other tracking abilities on all devices and social media accounts.
  • Thinking through what to take if leaving quickly – collecting these belongings and keeping them together and within easy access or somewhere safe offsite.  
    • Saving numbers under different names or using speed dial to quickly contact safe support people. 
  • Contacting a local DV agency or 911 in case of emergency and using non-descriptive words if it is not safe to speak freely.
  • Taking pictures of resources or keeping handouts somewhere safely hidden 
  • Keeping a log of all forms of harm – take pictures of any injuries or damage. Symptoms like bruising and swelling may form days later, documenting changes to your physical appearance can also be important.