What is Domestic Violence

The United States Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women defines domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another. 


Domestic Violence one of the top health concerns in the US. Comprehending its definition can help us fight against the many manifestations of abuse. In some cases, victims may not speak out against their abusers if they don’t realize that the behavior, they’re experiencing is domestic violence. 

It is important that friends and loved ones of victims know and understand the dynamic of a domestic violence situation. This will put them in a better place to help once they can see what domestic violence looks like. It is also important, that people know and understand the many forms abuse can take. 

Types of Abuse

  • Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone.
  • Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim’s consent. This often takes the form of marital rape, attacking sexual body parts, physical violence that is followed by forcing sex, sexually demeaning the victim, or even telling sexual jokes at the victim’s expense.
  • Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim’s sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. Emotional abuse often takes the form of constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim’s relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim’s abilities.
  • Economic abuse takes place when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant. Economic abusers often seek to maintain total control over financial resources, withhold the victims’ access to funds, or prohibit the victim from going to school or work.
  • Psychological abuse involves the abuser invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim’s family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones; prohibiting the victim from going to school or work.
  • Threats to hit, injure, or use a weapon are a form of psychological abuse.
  • Stalking can include following the victim, spying, watching, harassing, showing up at the victim’s home or work, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person’s home or workplace. These acts individually are typically legal, but any of these behaviors done continuously results in a stalking crime.
  • Cyberstalking refers to online action or repeated emailing that inflicts substantial emotional distress in the recipient.


Is this abuse?

It can be hard to recognize abuse at the beginning of a relationship.

Abusive patterns and cycles tend to emerge over time and may not appear early in a relationship. All relationships are different. But if you suspect your partner or the partner of a loved one is becoming abusive, there are some signs you can look out for.

  • Telling you that you can never do anything right.
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away.
  • Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members.
  • Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs.
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household.
  • Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses.
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you.
  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do.
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions.
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children.
  • Preventing you from working or attending school.
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets.
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons.
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with.
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol.

Experiencing even one or two of these behaviors in a relationship is a red flag that abuse may be in an abusive relationship. Experiencing any type of abuse is serious, and no one deserves to suffer from abuse of any kind, for any reason.

Courage Connection provides help to anyone experiencing domestic violence.

If you or someone you love needs help please call

Domestic Violence HOTLINE

(217) 384-4390 OR (877) 384-4390