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Domestic Abuse

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship to maintain control.

Domestic violence does not discriminate by gender or economic status. Anyone of any race, age, economic status,  sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are just dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels throughout the world.

Domestic violence includes behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want to manipulate. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation to keep control. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship between partners.

Power & Control Wheel* to describe most accurately what occurs in an abusive relationship.

Think of the wheel as a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep their victim in the relationship to keep control. While the inside of the wheel is comprised of subtle, continual behaviors, the outer ring represents physical, visible violence to control. These are the abusive acts that are more overt and forceful, and often the intense acts that reinforce the regular use of other more subtle methods of abuse also used.

*Although this Power & Control Wheel uses she/her pronouns for the victim and assumes a male perpetrator, abuse can happen to people of any gender or economic status in any type of relationship.

Power and Control Wheel

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive!

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows through time.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away from them
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing or calling friends or family members
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs and name calling
  • Controls every penny spent in the household funds
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses or funding
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare or intimidate you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do all the time
  • Prevents you from making your own knowledgeable decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children to control
  • Prevents you from working or attending school to better yourself
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets or children
  • Intimidates you with physical presence, guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with doing
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol you don't want to partake in

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