Definition

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another.

Understanding the Full Spectrum of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, from any background. It doesn’t discriminate based on age, race, sexual orientation, income, education, ability, or gender—anyone can suffer from abuse, at any time.

While physical abuse might be the first thing that comes to mind when one hears the term “domestic violence,” an abusive partner may try to exert control in a number of other ways. This can include verbal abuse, social isolation, and exerting control over finances. Remember that domestic violence is about power; its purpose is for the abuser to control the victim in whatever form(s) it takes, through whatever means it takes.

Read more about the different types of abuse using the link below.

Are You Experiencing Abuse?

If you think your interactions with your partner might be abusive, click the link below to take a short quiz. The questions and your answers might help you determine if you need to seek help for an abusive relationship. 

The Extent of the Problem

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender. However, domestic violence continues to affect women at a disproportionately high rate. In 2007, 45% of female homicide victims were murdered by intimate partners; 5% of male homicide victims were murdered by intimate partners (Catalano, Smith, Snyder, and Rand, 2009). Cultural norms about the status in relationships between men and women, in addition to other gender-based inequities, continue to fuel this problem.

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control in order to gain and maintain power and control over family or household. As with all forms of violence, the root cause of this violence is oppression. Societal attitudes of racism, sexism and homophobia increase the vulnerability of people more likely to experience emotional, financial and physical violence at the hands of those that are meant to love and nurture them.

It’s common for those outside a domestic violence situation to question why someone doesn’t just leave the abusive relationship. In addition to the many obstacles a survivor faces while trying to leave, their risk of extreme violence or death vastly increases once they do leave their abuser. “Women who are separated from their partners have the highest rates of intimate partner victimization (42%) as opposed to 1% for married women, 9% for divorced women and 5% for women who have never been married” (Catalano, 2007). This is why it is imperative to help survivors access the right support, resources, and protections during that critical period of time. Achieving safety requires the right tools and options be available at the point the survivor needs them.

Impacts to Society

Though the cost to society pales in comparison to the individual cost, it’s important to note that the effects of domestic violence extend far beyond the homes in which it occurs. Read more about the societal impacts of domestic violence by clicking the button below.