Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior or coercive control in any relationship that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over another.
Domestic violence and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Domestic Violence does not look the same in every relationship. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many things to gain power and control over their partners.
Examples of abuse include:
name-calling or putdowns
keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends
stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
actual or threatened physical harm
Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.
The violence takes many forms and can happen all the time or once in a while. An important step to help yourself or someone you know in preventing or stopping violence is recognizing the warning signs
ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM!
Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavior problems.
If you are being abused, REMEMBER...
You are not alone
It is not your fault
Help is available
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE BEING ABUSED ?
Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.
Does your partner…
Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
Tell you that you are nothing without them?
Treat you roughly-grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets?
Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
Blame you for how they feel or act?
Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for?
Make you feel like there "is no way out'' of the relationship?
Prevent you from doing things you want-like spending time with your friends or family?
Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson?"
Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior?
Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?
If any of these situations are happening in your relationship, talk to someone you trust or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (available 24/7/365): 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
Without help, the abuse will continue.
Why do victims sometimes return to or stay with abusers?
· A better question is, “Why does the abuser choose to abuse?”
· The deck is stacked against the victim when confronted with leaving or not.
· Abusers work very hard to keep victims in relationships.
· There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave.
* In fact, a victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left. 
*On average, three women die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner every day.
*We, as a community, must do more to ensure the safety of victims when they leave.
· Batterers are very good at making victims think that the abuse is their fault. Victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it.
· Victims stay because they are made to think they cannot survive on their own, financially or otherwise. Often abusers create a financial situation that makes leaving nearly impossible.
· Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship.
· A survivor may return to the abuser because that’s the person she the survivor fell in love with, and she believes his promises to change. It’s not easy for anyone to let go of hopes and dreams.
Do abusers show any potential warning signs?
· There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd, but most abusers share some common characteristics.
· Some of the subtle warning signs include:
*They insist on moving too quickly into a relationship.
*They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true.
*They insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
*They are extremely jealous or controlling.
*They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
*They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs.
*Their words and actions don’t match.
· Any one of these behaviors may not indicate abusive actions, but it’s important to know the red flags and take time to explore them.
Is it possible for abusers to change?
· Yes, but they must make the choice to change.
· It’s not easy for an abuser to stop abusive behavior, and it requires a serious decision to change. Once an abuser has had all of the power in a relationship, it’s difficult to change to a healthy relationship with equal power and compromises.
· Sometimes an abuser stops the physical violence, but continues to employ other forms of abuse – emotional, sexual, or financial. Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.
Are men victims of domestic violence?
· Yes, men can be victims of domestic abuse.
· According to data collected from 2003 to 2012, 82 percent of domestic, dating, and sexual violence was committed against females, and 18 percent against males.  This is cooroborated by a 2012 study which states that about 4 in 5 victims of domestic, dating, and sexual violence between 1994 and 2010 were female.
· Men living with male partners are more likely to report domestic, dating, or sexual violence than men living with female partners. 15.4 percent of same-sex cohabiting men reported experience sexual/physical violence or stalking, compared to 10.8 percent of men with a female partner.
· Pervasive stereotypes that men are always the abuser and women are always the victim discriminates against male survivors and discourages them from coming forward with their stories.
· Male survivors of domestic violence are less likely to seek help or report abuse. Many are unaware of services for male survivors, and there is a common misconception that domestic violence programs only serve women.
· When we talk about domestic violence, we’re not talking about men versus women or women versus men. We’re talking about violence versus peace. We’re talking about control versus respect.
· Domestic violence affects us all, and all of us – women, children and men – must be part of the solution.
How does the economy affect domestic violence?
· A sour economy does not cause domestic violence but can make it worse. It’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.
· The severity and frequency of abuse can increase when factors associated with a bad economy are present.
*Job loss, housing foreclosures, debt, and other factors contribute to higher stress levels at home, which can lead to increased violence.
· As the violence gets worse, a weak economy limits options for survivors to seek safety or escape.
· Domestic violence programs need more staff and funding to keep up with the demand for their services.
· Victims may have a more difficult time finding a job to become financially independent of abusers.
What can I do to help?
· Everyone can speak out against domestic violence. The problem will continue until society stands up with one resounding voice and says, “no more!”
· Members of the public can donate to local, statewide or national anti-domestic violence programs or victim assistance programs.
· We can teach our children about what healthy relationships look like by example and by talking about it.
· You can call on your public officials to support life-saving domestic violence services and hold perpetrators accountable.