WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
Rekha • onInformation 11 years ago • 6 min read

A woman is beaten every nine seconds in the United States. Domestic violence is the most under-reported crime in the country, with the actual incidence 10 times higher than is reported. Eighty percent of children who live in homes where domestic violence occurs witness the abuse. On average, four women are murdered every day by their male partner in the U.S.

Women in the U.S. are in nine times more danger in their own homes than they are in the street. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 95 percent of reported spousal assaults are committed by men against women. Assaults committed by women against men occur in approximately 5 to 10 percent of domestic violence matters.

About 17 percent of women report experiencing physical or sexual violence during pregnancy. Battering prior to pregnancy is the primary predictor that battering will occur during pregnancy. Domestic violence is one of the nation's best-kept secrets.

Domestic violence is about one person getting and keeping power and control over another person in an intimate relationship. The abusive person might be your current or former spouse, live-in lover or dating partner. A psychologist and law school professor who is an expert in domestic violence has described it as "a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual or economic abuse to control and change the behavior of the other partner."

Domestic violence happens to people of all ages, races, ethnicities, and religions. It occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. Economic or professional status does not indicate domestic violence - abusers and victims can be laborers or college professors, judges or janitors, doctors or orderlies, schoolteachers, truck drivers, homemakers or store clerks. Domestic violence occurs in the poorest ghettos, the fanciest mansions and white-picket-fence neighborhoods.

About 95% of victims of domestic violence are women. Over 50% of all women will experience physical violence in an intimate relationship, and for 24-30% of those women, the battering will be regular and on-going. Every 15 seconds the crime of battering occurs. Most abusers are men. They may seem gentle, mean, quiet or loud, and may be big or small. There is some evidence that shows boys who grow up with domestic violence often become abusers as adults, however, many abusers are from non-violent homes, and many boys from violent homes do not grow up to be abusive.

The law defines domestic violence in very specific ways. Every state and U.S. territory has laws that allow its courts to issue protection orders, as do many Indian tribes. Each state, territory or tribe decides for itself how to define domestic violence and how its laws will help and protect victims, so the laws are different from one jurisdiction to another. Although you may be a victim of domestic violence, the laws in your jurisdiction may be written in a way that does not include or protect you. This does not mean that you are not a victim, and it does not mean that you should not seek help.

The law is a useful and important tool for increasing safety and independence, but it is not the only tool. In addition to legal assistance, you might benefit from safety planning, medical care, counseling, economic assistance and planning, job placement, childcare, eldercare or pet care assistance, or many other types of practical help and advice. You can seek assistance from advocates, shelters, support groups, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, and perhaps even your religious leader or doctor.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE is a pattern of abusive behavior which keeps one partner in a position of power over the other partner through the use of fear, intimidation and control.

PHYSICAL ABUSE: Grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hitting, hair pulling, biting, etc. Denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use.

SEXUAL ABUSE: Coercing or attempting to coerce any sexual contact without consent, e.g., marital rape, forcing sex after physical beating, attacks on sexual parts of the body or treating another in a sexually demeaning manner.

ECONOMIC ABUSE: Making or attempting to make a person financially dependent, e.g., maintaining total control over financial resources, withholding access to money, forbidding attendance at school or employment.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: Undermining a person's sense of self-worth, e.g., constant criticism, belittling one's abilities, name calling, damaging a partner's relationship with the children.

PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE: Causing fear by intimidation, threatening physical harm to self, partner or children, destruction of pets and property, mind games or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work. AM I BEING ABUSED? CHECKLIST

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it's abuse.

Does your partner Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals? Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? Tell you that you are nothing without them? Treat you roughly - grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you? Blame you for how they feel or act? Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for? Make you feel like there "is no way out" of the relationship? Prevent you from doing things you want - like spending time with your friends or family? Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson"?

Do you Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act? Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior? Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself? Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry? Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want? Stay with you partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke-up?

If any of these are happening in your relationship, talk to someone. Without some help, the abuse will continue.

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or (TTY) 1-800-787-3224

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