What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is an epidemic where one partner in an intimate relationship uses a pattern of behavior to have power and control over the other partner. These behaviors are often emotional, psychological, financial, verbal, physical and/or sexual abuse. Domestic violence crosses all ages, races, socioeconomic levels, and ethnic groups; it does not discriminate.

The Power and Control Wheel*, shown below, was developed by domestic violence professionals after interviews with hundreds of victims revealed common patterns of abusive behavior. Abusers attempt to gain power and control over their victim ussing a number of different strategies.

The inner sections of the wheel show the tactics that abusers often use first to gain control over their victims. Abusive behavior escalates over time, with the abuser increasing the level of abuse to feel a greater degree of power and control and causing the victim to “walk on eggshells” while trying to remain safe.

Physical and sexual assault are usually not seen at the beginning of an abusive relationship. The inner sections of the wheel show the tactics that abusers often first use to gain control over their victims. Abusive behavior escalates over time, with the abuser increasing the level of abuse to feel a greater degree of power and control and the victim “walking on eggshells” while trying to remain safe.

 

The following are examples of abusive behavior:

Emotional/Psychological:

 

  • Making degrading remarks about you, your appearance or your family
  • Constant criticism (name-calling, put-downs, ridiculing, blaming)
  • Yelling, swearing, humiliating you in public
  • Accusing you of flirting or having an affair
  • Harassment (constant calls and/or texts, checking up on you at home or work, using or threatening to use social media against you)
  • Treating you like a servant
Threats and Intimidation:
  • Threats can be verbal,non-verbal or implied
  • Pressure tactics (using guilt or accusations, turning friends/relatives against you)
  • Tracking your movements, checking phone bills and mileage on car
  • Destroying possessions, breaking furniture
  • Threatening to take children away
  • Threatening to kill you, family members or pets
  • Threatening to commit suicide
Isolation:
  • Alienating you from or forbidding you to see or speak with relatives and/or friends
  • Forbidding you from working or attending  school
  • Disabling the car or removing car keys
  • Disconnecting or not allowing use of the phone
  • Locking you in the house or in a room
Economic Abuse:
  • Withholding money, or denying access to money, checks, credit/debit cards, important financial documents
  • Making you account for spending by checking credit card statements and receipts, and counting change
  • Forcing you to ask for money
  • Demanding that you turn over your paycheck or stealing your money
Use of Children:
  • Threatening to take your children away from you
  • Using visitation to harass you
  • Telling your children lies about  you
  • Withholding financial  support  for  children
  • Threatening to report you to child protective  services
  • Abusing you in front of the children or abusing the children in front of you
  • Using your children to spy on you
  • Encouraging your children to mistreat you
Physical:
  • Pushing, punching, slapping, kicking, biting, strangling/choking
  • Pulling hair, pinching, burning, cutting, whipping, restraining
  • Throwing objects
  • Using a weapon or using any object as a weapon
Sexual Abuse:
  • Fondling, kissing, or rubbing parts of your body or removing your clothes without your consent
  • Pressuring or forcing you to have vaginal, anal, or oral penetration through insertion of genitals, fingers, or objects
  • Pressuring or forcing you to give or receive oral sex
  • Forcing, threatening, or otherwise coercing you to perform sexual acts
  • Physically attacking or injuring sexual parts of your body
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