About Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of physical, sexual, verbal and/or emotional abuse in a dating or domestic relationship. Usually domestic violence is not just a one-time incident, but a pattern of abuse over time that causes the victim harm and fear. As the abuse continues, the abuser gains power and control over the victim.
Identifying and Escaping Domestic Violence
Relationship abuse takes many forms:
- threats of violence
- verbal attacks
- other forms of intimidation
- extreme jealousy
- controlling behavior
In the beginning, a victim may not recognize the warning signs of an abusive relationship, such as jealousy and controlling behavior. Or, a victim may believe that the first abusive behaviors are isolated incidents that will not happen again. Many victims also believe the violence was their fault. Abusers often apologize for the abuse and promise that it will never happen again. Early in a relationship, any or all of these reasons can convince the victim to stay and "work it out." Later, fear, isolation and confusion caused by the continued violence can keep a victim trapped, afraid to tell anyone what is happening or to reach out for help.
The Impact of Abuse
The impact of domestic violence is felt by every member of our society. Abuse happens in all types of intimate and family relationships. It can come from a boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent, a husband or wife, a sister or brother, someone the victim is living with or other family members. And, domestic violence does not discriminate. It affects people of all races, religions and cultures, regardless of how much money they have or what neighborhood they live in. Victims can be male or female, and domestic violence happens in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships. While domestic violence happens to people of all ages, it is particularly devastating to youth.
- Approximately 2.3 million people in the United States each year are raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.
- Girls and women between the ages of 16 and 24 are the most vulnerable to domestic violence, experiencing the highest per capita rates of non-fatal intimate partner violence.
- A woman is more likely to be injured, raped or killed by a current or former partner than by any other person.