Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is commonly understood to be a behavior pattern of coercive power and control established through the various forms of abuse of one’s intimate partner.

The term ‘domestic violence” is often used interchangeably with other terms like intimate partner violence, family violence, dating violence, etc.

Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, gender identity, sexual orientation, class, ethnicity, culture or religion.

It can occur in current or former dating, cohabiting, or married relationships.

Often domestic violence is misunderstood to be only about physical forms of violence. Domestic violence as it’s understood today is about one partner (or former partner) gaining and maintaining power and control over their partner.

Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling acts and not one separate incident.

Domestic violence is not caused by drugs, alcohol, anger, mental illness or any other excuse.

Types of Abuse

Types of Abuse Include:

  • Physical violence
  • Sexual violence
  • Violence and/or threats towards the children
  • Isolation
  • Intimidation and threats
  • Economic control
  • Emotional and psychological abuse
  • Stalking

This page provides limited information about domestic and sexual violence in order to offer a baseline understanding of what this violence and abuse may look like in an individual’s lived experience. It is not meant to cover all of the issues we address or the needs of the reader.


Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is probably the easiest kind of behavior to recognize and understand as violent. It can be directed toward you or anyone you care about, including pets. Aggressive physical contact should always be considered abusive and serious even if it doesn’t cause marks or permanent damage.

Some examples of physical abuse:

  • Scratching, biting, grabbing or spitting
  • Shoving and pushing
  • Slapping and punching
  • Throwing objects to hurt or intimidate
  • Destroying possessions or treasured objects
  • Hurting or threatening to hurt your children and/or pets
  • Disrupting sleep patterns to make you feel exhausted
  • Burning
  • Strangling
  • Attacking or threatening to attack with a weapon
  • Any threats or actual attempts to kill you

Emotional Abuse

Emotional or psychological abuse is any behavior, verbal or non-verbal, that your partner does to control you and/or damage your emotional well-being.

Some examples of emotional abuse:

  • Name-calling and mocking, especially when targeting very sensitive issues
  • Intimidating you when they are upset
  • Yelling in your face or positioning their body in a menacing way
  • Making humiliating remarks or gestures
  • Manipulating your children
  • Telling you what to do and/or where you can and cannot go
  • Placing little value on what you say
  • Interrupting, changing topics, not listening or responding, and twisting your words
  • Putting you down in front of other people
  • Saying negative things about your friends and family
  • Preventing or making it difficult for you to see friends or relatives
  • Cheating or being overly jealous
  • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior by blaming others or saying you caused it
  • Monitoring your phone calls, texts, car and computer use

Economic Abuse

Money is often a tool that abusers use to establish absolute control in their relationships. An abusive partner might take all measures to ensure that you’re entirely financially dependent on them to prevent you from leaving or feeling like you have any power or say in your relationship. Another form of economic abuse might be your partner shifting all of the responsibility of keeping a roof over the family’s head onto you but still trying to make sure that you don’t have access to money.

Economic abuse can take many forms, such as the following:

  • Denying you access to funds
  • Making you account for every penny spent
  • Putting all bills or credit cards in your name without your consent or knowledge
  • Making sure that major assets (like your house) are not in your name
  • Demanding your paychecks
  • Interfering with your work or not letting you work
  • Taking your car keys or otherwise preventing you from using the car

Stalking and Harassment

An abusive partner or ex-partner might inappropriately demand your time even when you make it clear that you don’t want contact with them.

Stalking and harassment can look like the following:

  • Making unwanted visits or sending you unwanted messages (over the phone, computer, etc)
  • Following you
  • Checking up on you constantly
  • Embarrassing you in public
  • Refusing to leave when asked