What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, and intimate partner abuse) is complex and involves one partner using a variety of tactics - some violent and some not - to maintain power and control over their partner.

What is Domestic Violence?

There are many myths about domestic violence, such as who commits the violence, who receives the abuse, and why the abuse happens. Our communities are safer when we raise awareness by spreading facts instead of myths.

Below are resources and information to help you better understand the complex dynamics of domestic violence.

 

learn about the dynamics of domestic violence

  • What is domestic violence?

    Domestic violence (also known as domestic abuse, intimate partner violence, and intimate partner abuse) is complex and involves one partner using a variety of tactics - some violent and some not - to maintain power and control over their partner.

    There are many myths about domestic violence. Our communities are safer when we raise awareness by spreading facts instead of myths.
    • Domestic violence is not a one-time incident. It is a pattern of abusive behaviors that typcially occurs in a cycle, with really good times and really bad times, that escalates over time.  

    • Domestic violence is not always physical. Other forms of domestic violence include emotional and psychological abuse, sexual abuse and financial abuse.

    • Domestic violence affects individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality.

     
    Learn More:
  • Physical Abuse

    Physical abuse is defined as using force to intimidate or purposefully hurt an intimate partner. Examples of physical abuse include hitting, slapping, kicking, pushing, biting, choking, throwing objects, use of weapons, etc.

  • Emotional or Psychological Abuse

    Emotional or psychological abuse includes a variety of abusive behaviors that cause trauma to the person receiving the abuse. Some examples of emotional and psychological abuse include insults, threats, stalking, jealousy or possessiveness, control of activities or whereabouts, isolation from family or friends, blaming the victim for the abuse, etc.

  • Sexual Abuse

    Sexual abuse includes forcing sexual activity upon a partner, harming a partner sexually, or pressuring a partner to do sexual things when they don’t want to.

    Learn More: NCADV Facts about Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

  • Financial Abuse

    Financial abuse is defined as controlling or limiting a partner’s finances to exercise power and control over their partner. Some examples of financial abuse include not allowing their partner to work, getting credit cards in their partner’s name without their knowledge and consent, and controlling when/how their partner can use their own or shared money.

    Learn More: NCADV Facts about Domestic Violence and Economic Abuse

  • The Power & Control Wheel

    Power and Control Wheel: Words "Power & Control" are in the center with a variety of verbal, emotional, and financial tactics. On the perimeter of the wheel are the words "physical violence" and "sexual violence"

  • Abuse happens in a cycle
    Cycle of Abuse That includes the honeymoon phase, tension building phase, and then the explosion. Cycle of Abuse:
    • At first things are good - great even! This stage is called the "honeymoon period."
    • Next is the "tension building period" in which the abuse begins, intensifies or happens more often.
    • Finally there is the "explosion," the point in the relationship when the abuse is most severe.
     

    The cycle of abuse is different for everyone, and doesn't necessarily include physical abuse. For most people, the cycle continues and escalates over time with false promises and apologies leading back into the honeymoon period (sometimes called the “normalcy period.”

  • Why do they stay?

    Victims of domestic violence often find themselves in complex situations that leave them feeling overwhelmed and confused. A victim will often stay in an abusive relationship because:

    • They believe their partner will change
    • They still love their partner
    • They feel obligated to keep the family together
    • They have been told that divorce is a sin or contrary to their faith
    • They are financially or emotionally dependent
    • They have a low self-esteem, including feelings that they deserve the abuse, that no one else could love them, etc.)
    • They are afraid of what might happen if they try to leave
    • They feel that they have no other options

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