Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviors that one former or current intimate partner uses against the other.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive and assaultive behaviors that one former or current intimate partner uses against the other. Often the abuse begins subtly and progresses over time. The aim is to gain power and control and trap the partner in the relationship.
Forms of Abuse
Physical abuse is a powerful way that an abusive person gets and keeps their partner under control and it instills an environment of constant fear. Physical violence may include: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting or killing pets, and denying medical treatment.
Sexual abuse may include: physically forcing sex, making you feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing you to participate in demeaning or degrading sexual acts, violence or name calling during sex, and denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.
Emotional abuse can include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, “crazy making”, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming you for their behavior, threatening and making you feel fearful, isolating you from family and friends, excessive jealously, accusing you of having affairs, and watching where you go and who you talk to.
Some forms of financial abuse include: giving you an allowance, not letting you have your own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with your job, and ruining your credit. It is so powerful that many victims of abuse describe it as the main reason that they stayed in an abusive relationship or went back to one.
How to know if you are in a financially abusive relationship
Does your partner:
This list is by no means exhaustive; economic abuse may include other forms of controlling behavior.
What to Do if You Are Experiencing Domestic Violence
Through the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE  or TTY 1-800-787-3224), help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotline advocates are available for victims and anyone calling on their behalf to provide crisis intervention, safety planning, information and referrals to agencies in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Assistance is available in English and Spanish with access to more than 170 languages through interpreter services. If you or someone you know is frightened about something in your relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline (www.loveisrespect.org, 1-866-331-9474, or TTY 1-866-331-8453) provides help and resources, including confidential online support, for teens who are concerned about what is going on in their relationships.
To learn about nearby domestic violence shelters, victim advocacy programs, or other services for victims, contact your state's domestic violence coalition. A complete list of up-to-date contact information for all domestic and sexual violence coalitions across the United States and its Territories can be found at www.VAWnet.org. Here are additional helpful resources:
Sources for this fact sheet:
National Network to End Domestic Violence. “Forms of Abuse.” About Domestic Violence. http://www.nnedv.org/resources/stats/gethelp/formsofabuse.html. Last accessed: October 25, 2010.
Postmus, Judy L. (October 2010). “Economic Empowerment of Domestic Violence Survivors.” Applied Research Forum: National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women.