Domestic violence and its effects are present year-round. 2024 is still a fresh, new year and began with a month that holds meaning for several communities in terms of awareness building, many of which intersect with the work to end domestic violence. In this edition of our blog, ICADV’s Communications Coordinator, Oyindamola Olawepo, explores domestic violence and its connections with stalking, human trafficking, data privacy, poverty and economic justice, disabilities, and racial justice. 


When a conversation turns to the topic of domestic violence, it can seem like so many different terms are being used. To some it might beg the question, “Is domestic violence more than physical? Or why does domestic violence seem so complicated?” At other times, the language has changed so much that that you are left wondering if people are still talking about the same thing. The truth of the matter is, people who choose violence have found more effective ways to be abusive, leading to changes in nuances, language, and bandwidth of the subject-matter. Recently, I was talking to a friend about a video we saw online, and he said, “at least there are no bruises on her, so no abuse, but I hate the way he was talking to her.” I had to correct him and tell him that the words are also a form of abuse, and that abuse is much deeper than the physical violence.

Domestic Violence (DV) is defined by the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) as “a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse, or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).” The Office of Violence Against Women (OVW) goes deeper in their definitionDomestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another person. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, psychological, or technological actions or threats of actions or other patterns of coercive behavior that influence another person within an intimate partner relationship. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound.”

You may be wondering, why talk about DV 101 now? We all know what DV is, or we know the definition of DV. Well, did you know that January is an awareness month for a lot of issues that subtly or majorly intersect with DV, like Stalking and Human Trafficking, Data Privacy week (technology abuse), Poverty and Economic Awareness Month (financial abuse), Braille Awareness (disabilities), and Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (racial justice). Now let’s discuss the awareness topics for the month and the intersection they have with DV.  


DV and Stalking

Stalking Prevention and Awareness Resource Center (SPARC) defines stalking as A pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress.Stalking is an issue that affects all genders, and SPARC estimates that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 6 men will experience stalking of some kind. The intersection between stalking and DV is a deep one as many people who choose harm use this means of oppression to keep tabs on their partners, current or former. Stalking is a means to show that they maintain control of their previous partners. There is no easy way to get out of an abusive situation, but a survivor finding out they are being stalked can be an ex-partner can be terrifying. This is just another tactic employed by people who cause harm to drive fear and maintain a semblance of control. SPARC is one of the many agencies and organizations working in the intersectionality to end DV and stand against stalking. 


DV and Human Trafficking

This combination seems like a confluence of major evil. Polaris defines Human Trafficking as “the business of stealing freedom for profit. In some cases, traffickers’ trick, defraud or physically force victims into selling sex. In others, victims are lied to, assaulted, threatened, or manipulated into working under inhumane, illegal, or otherwise unacceptable conditions. It is a multi-billion-dollar criminal industry that denies freedom to 24.9 million people around the world.Some life situations and experiences can make people more vulnerable to people who cause harm. The U.S. department of State defines Human Trafficking as ““Trafficking in persons” and “human trafficking” are umbrella terms—often used interchangeably—to refer to a crime whereby traffickers exploit and profit at the expense of adults or children by compelling them to perform labor or engage in commercial sex.”  After being a victim, finding a semblance of normalcy wherever they can find one, this makes Human Trafficking victims susceptible to being and staying in abusive relationships. For some, they are not aware that they are being abused and do not know of resources to help them make changes in their lives. Polaris is one of the many organizations and agencies working in the intersectionality to end DV while standing with Human Trafficking Victims and Survivors. 


DV and Racial Justice

Though the United States has made strides on human rights issues over the last several years, there still needs to be advocacy for racially diverse groups. Its been over 50 years since the famous MLK Jr. Speech “I have a dream”, and it will seem they are still dreaming, still waiting, and still fighting for the rights to do a lot of things. Because racism and oppression continue to exist, it is easy for people that choose violence to oppress people of color and it is difficult for racially diverse individuals to receive the support and assistance that they need, this is what makes it easy for People that choose violence to be able to oppress racially diverse individuals. Many DV incidents that happen in communities of color go unreported and mostly entail oppression and manipulation. People are already made to feel less than by the government, and, when an abusive partner keeps reminding them of that reality of racism, it seems like they could have it worse Black, Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) individuals get oppressed by people because they have a different skin tone, hair texture or personality, and then having a person who cause harm as a partner, making them feel less than and just continue the violence. This is the reality of survivors from different races. Ujima  and StrongHearts Natives are some of the many organizations and agencies working in the intersectionality to end DV while standing with racially diverse individuals (BIPOC). 


DV and Technology Abuse

People who choose violence have gone as far as cloning the phone of their victims to keep tabs on them, installing tracking software or devices on their laptops and cars, doxing them, etc. How do we quell this behavior? The blessing and curse of technology has us tracked in every sphere and space. The blessing in this is that it works for emergency reasons when one needs to be tracked. The curse is that it gives access to all people to keep tabs on you. An abusive person thrives here because they can keep tabs, subjecting a DV survivor/victim to more abuse. This month as we celebrate Data Privacy week, let us think about ways to ensure safety across the board for all. The Safety Net Project from the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) has the necessary resources to help promote the safety of all individuals. 


DV and Financial Abuse

We have mentioned how manipulation is a power and control tactic commonly employed by people who cause harm, but the use of financial manipulation cannot be overemphasized. People who choose violence mostly ensure that their partners are financially dependent on them to the degree that they have a hard time leaving or finding financial stability when they do. We at the Illinois Coalition have a brochure on Domestic Violence and Financial Abuse. NNEDV defines Financial abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain power and control in a relationship. The forms of financial abuse may be subtle or overt but in general, include tactics to conceal information, limit the victim’s access to assets, or reduce accessibility to the family finances. Financial abuse – along with emotional, physical, and sexual abuse – includes behaviors to intentionally manipulate, intimidate, and threaten the victim to entrap that person in the relationship. In some cases, financial abuse is present throughout the relationship and in other cases financial abuse becomes present when the survivor is attempting to leave or has left the relationship. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has a quick guide on economic and financial abuse 


DV and Disabilities

One of the least reported forms of violence is violence against people with a disability. This type of violence might not get reported as much, because there are many reasons people with disabilities are vulnerable to domestic violence: dependence on a caregiver, lack of resources, ableism, language barriers (for those who use ASL), etc. The truth of the matter is that DV against people with disabilities is very real, and we are working to eradicate it as we work to end Domestic Violence. Activating Change has statistics and resources to help understand the intersectionality between DV and disability. They state that “people with disabilities are three to five times more likely than people without disabilities to be victimized; deaf survivors are not able to receive victim services from a Deaf advocate in 71% of states across the country; people with disabilities are three to four times more likely to be incarcerated than people without; people with psychiatric disabilities are nine times more likely to be sexually assaulted in jail or prison.  



    • As we acknowledge these days and as we are working to eradicate domestic violence, we need to educate ourselves on a lot of new information.  
    • Let us continue to educate ourselves and remember that people who choose abuse will change their tactics to be more effective and subtle, and we have to change how we support survivors to keep our method of approach equally as dynamic for complete eradication of domestic violence. 
    • Domestic violence is a public health issue with roots in almost every facet. Sometimes the effect of this epidemic in other cultures happens differently, and we should look out for those differences as we work to help victims and survivors.  
    • Let us do better for the community by training ourselves, speaking up when we see something. Remember, Everyone knows Someone 


Oyindamola Olawepo, ICADV Communications Coordinator