Identifying and Escaping Domestic Violence

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:

  • rape
  • murder
  • punching
  • slapping
  • pushing
  • grabbing
  • threats of violence
  • verbal attacks
  • other forms of intimidation
  • extreme jealousy
  • possessiveness
  • 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.

The Facts

  • 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.