Domestic Violence, the number one public health problem in the United States, affects all aspects of society in staggering dimensions. It is the chief cause of injury to women, more than the next three causes combined: rape, auto accidents and muggings.
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
You may be in an EMOTIONALLY abusive relationship if your partner:
- Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you
- Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive
- Tries to isolate you from family or friends
- Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with
- Does not want you to work
- Controls finances or refuses to share money
- Punishes you by withholding affection
- Expects you to ask permission
- Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
- Humiliates you in any way
- Checking your cell phone or email without permission
- Constantly putting you down
- Degrading you in front of friends and family
- Telling hurtful “jokes” despite your requests to stop
- Taking your statements out of context
You may be in a PHYSICALLY abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Damage property when angry (throw objects, punch walls, kick doors, etc.).
- Slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you
- Abandones you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place
- Uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you
- Forces you to leave your home
- Trapps you in your home or keeps you from leaving
- Prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention
- Uses physical force in sexual situations
- Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate
- Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon
- Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act
- Grabbing your face to make you look at them
- Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere
You may be in an ECONOMIC abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
- Preventing you from having or keeping a job
- Interfering with your efforts to maintain a job by sabotaging childcare, transportation, or other arrangements
- Not including you in family financial decisions
- Not allowing you access to the family finances
- Demanding an account of everything you buy
- Controlling your access to financial information
- Not allowing you to talk to others about money
- Not allowing your name to be on accounts, which would allow you to build credit
- Forcing you to put your name on accounts and then destroying your credit
- Making fun of your financial contribution and saying it is not worth anything
- Expecting you to behave in a certain way because you make less money or are not the “breadwinner”
- Destroying or interfering with homework
- Preventing you from learning English
- Forcing you to work “illegally” when you do not have a work permit
- Threatening to report you to INS if you work “under the table”
- Taking the money your family back home was depending on you to send to them
- Forcing you to sign papers in English that you do not understand i.e. court papers, IRS forms, immigration papers
- Harassing you at the only job you can work at legally in the U.S., so that you lose that job and are forced to work “illegally”
You may be in a SEXUALLY abusive relationship if your partner:
- Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
- Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
- Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
- Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
- Held you down during sex.
- Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
- Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
- Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
- Ignored your feelings regarding sex
If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions you may be in an abusive relationship; please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or your local domestic violence center to talk with someone about it.
If these experiences are happening to you, you might feel hopeless, desperate, confused, and alone. You may not want to tell people about your situation because you feel afraid, ashamed, or embarrassed. You are not alone, and you can find help.