What Is Domestic Violence?

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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Domestic violence also includes any actions or threats of actions that are used to influence another person.
Domestic violence often occurs in cycles, with periods of “normal or happy times” followed by increased tension and abuse. The cycle of violence repeats, sometimes over a period of months, sometimes within the same day. Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. Domestic violence occurs in same-sex relationships, and men can be victim as well.
If you or someone you know may be in an abusive relationship; please call our hotline at 920-743-8818 to talk to someone about it.
Domestic violence can be…
• Physical
• Sexual
• Emotional
• Psychological
• Economic
• Spiritual

Does your partner…
• Intimidate
• Manipulate
• Humiliate
• Isolate
• Frighten
• Terrorize
• Coerce
• Threaten
• Blame
• Hurt, injure and/or cause bruising

Do you…
• Have constant fear of your partner
• Feel helplessness or emotionless
• Believe you deserve to be mistreated
• Feel humiliated
• Feel embarrassed to disclose to your friends/family
• Feel your partner blames you for their own abusive behavior
• Feel your partner’s temper is unpredictable
• Feel your partner always tries to control you

If you have experienced any or all of the above you may be in an abusive relationship; please call our hotline at 920-743-8818 to talk to somebody. No one deserves to be abused!
Physical Abuse: Hitting, slapping, shoving, grabbing, pinching, biting, hair pulling, etc. are types of physical abuse. This type of abuse also includes denying a partner medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use upon him or her.
Sexual Abuse: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact or behavior without consent. Sexual abuse includes, but is certainly not limited to, marital rape, attacks on sexual parts of the body, forcing sex after physical violence has occurred, treating one in a sexually demeaning manner and controlling reproduction by sabotaging methods of birth control.
Emotional Abuse: Undermining an individual’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem is abusive. This may include, but is not limited to constant criticism, diminishing one’s abilities, name-calling, or damaging one’s relationship with his or her children.
Economic Abuse: Making or attempting to make an individual financially dependent by maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding one’s access to money or forbidding one’s attendance at school or employment.
Psychological Abuse: Elements of psychological abuse include, but are not limited to, causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner, children, or partner’s family or friends; destruction of pets and property; or forcing isolation from family, friends, or school and/or work.


Domestic violence can affect anyone. Anyone can be an abuser, and anyone can be a victim. Perpetrators of domestic violence against male victims include female and male intimate partners, as well as caregiver abuse against elderly and/or disabled male victims.

• Male victims face added barriers of not being believed or being ridiculed when they try to report.
• Stereotyping of male victim-hood and the stigmas attached (he must be queer, soft, weak, or a ‘woman’) increases the sense of shame and makes men more reluctant to report.
• Even as victims, men have a higher risk of losing custody, and thus may fear reporting.
• These attitudes and resulting behavior often re-victimizes victims, especially if they are gay/bisexual/transgender.


Elder Abuse and Abuse of Individuals with Disabilities: Elder abuse is the mistreatment of an elderly person by a family member or caregiver. Abuse of individuals with disabilities occurs when an intimate partner, family member or caregiver abuses someone of any age who has a disability. Abuse of elders and individuals with disabilities can include physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological abuse, financial exploitation, and/or neglect, including the denial of basic needs such as food and medical care.

Partner Abuse: Domestic violence by an intimate partner is experienced by older adults in three primary scenarios. Domestic violence begins shortly after the wedding day and continues throughout the marriage. The victim may stay because of personal values, religious beliefs, children and/or economic dependency. The victim as an older adult may remain for the same reasons, but there can be added issues such as declining health, fear of going to a nursing home, or losing financial assests

  1. Up until the couple reached older adulthood, there had been no domestic violence. Now with retirement, children grown and deteriorating health, the abuser feels a lack of control and therefore a need to exert power over the partner to establish some type of control.

A person loses a partner and begins a new relationship with someone that happens to be abusive. It is usually a very instant romance and quick decision to be together. If the victim was previously in a healthy relationship, it is much easier for him/her to recognize the new relationship as an abusive one, and therefore easier to leave.
Abuse by Adult Child or Other Household Member: Types of abuse may be verbal, physical, emotional, financial, sexual, or neglect.
Teen Dating Abuse: Approximately one in five high school female students say they were physically and/or sexually abused by their dating partner. Dating violence can happen among young people, and can affect youth regardless of social, economic, racial, ethnic, gender or sexual orientation differences. It can happen to both girls and boys.
Child Abuse: Child abuse, or child maltreatment, is an act by a parent, caretaker, sibling, family member, or other person that results in physical or emotional harm to a child. Emotional abuse, physical abuse, and neglect are all different forms of child maltreatment. Child abuse must be reported by law.
Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses and the community at large. Children who grow up witnessing domestic violence are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence is a normal way of life, thereby increasing their risk of becoming society’s next generation of victims and abusers. 


This chart (powercontrolwheelnoshading) shows you the kinds of behavior abusers use to get and keep control over their partners. Battering is never an accident. It is an intentional act used to gain control over the other person. Physical abuse is only one part of a whole series of behaviors an abuser uses against his/her partner. Violence is never an isolated behavior. There are other forms of abuse, which are shown in the Power and Control Wheel.


Keeping Safe
If you need immediate help because you are in danger, call 911.
If you are experiencing violence or threatening behavior from a partner, spouse, ex-partner, ex-spouse or someone you are dating (whether that person lives with you or not), there are steps you can take to plan for your safety, and for the safety of your children. This is called “safety planning”. Safety Planning is a tool to help you think about your safety. Keeping safe does not always mean leaving your home. Below is a safety plan to review:
If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell would be best.
Have a packed bag ready and keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home, even if you don’t think you will need to.
Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
Open a savings account in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
Keep the shelter phone number close at hand and your cell phone charged at all times for emergency phone calls.
Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave the abuser. REMEMBER – LEAVING THE ABUSER IS THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME.
Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
Inform your child’s school, daycare, etc., about who has permission to pick up your child.
Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see them near your home.
Keep your restraining order on you at all times. (When you change your purse, that should be the first thing that goes in it.)
Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order.
Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
Inform family, friends, and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.
Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of the abuser if possible.
Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train. Use a variety of routes to go home by if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (e.g., in your car, on the bus, etc.).
If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
Decide whom you can call to talk freely and openly to give you the support you need.
Plan to attend a women’s or victim’s support group for at least two weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.
Decide which friend, teacher, relative, or police officer you can tell.
Drivers license
Child’s birth certificate
Lease, rental agreement, house deed
Insurance papers
House and car keys
Address book
Medical records (all family members)
Social Security card
School records
Work permits
Green card
Divorce papers