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Learn the Facts

What is Domestic Violence?

Also known as domestic abuse, spousal abuse or intimate partner violence, can be broadly defined as a pattern of abusive behaviors by one or both partners in an intimate relationship such as marriage, dating, family, friends or cohabitation. Domestic violence has many forms including physical aggression (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, pushing, restraining, slapping, throwing objects); sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity); emotional abuse (controlling or domineering, using intimidation, stalking); passive/covert abuse (neglect); and economic deprivation. Alcohol consumption and mental illness can be co-morbid with abuse and present additional challenges when present alongside patterns of abuse.

Most relationships have difficult times and almost every couple argues occasionally. But violence is different from common marital or relationship discord. Domestic violence is a pattern of abuse that a partner—former or current partner, spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend—uses to control the behavior of another. It often starts with threats, name-calling, and slamming doors or breaking dishes, and escalates to pushing, slapping, and other violent acts.

ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! So many people no matter their gender, heritage, culture, or income level are affected by domestic violence. It can happen all the time or once in a while.

Warning Signs or Red Flags!
Behaviors abusers use to get and keep control in their relationships. Battering is a choice. It is used to gain power and control over another person and is never an isolated incident.

  • Use coercion and threats: Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt you. Threaten to leave you, commit suicide, report you to welfare. Make you drop charges. Make you do illegal things.
  • Use intimidation: Make you afraid by using looks, actions, gestures. Smash things. Destroy your property. Abuse pets. Display weapons.
  • Use emotional abuse: Put you down. Make you feel bad about yourself. Call you names. Make you think you are crazy. Play mind games. Humiliate you. Make you feel guilty.
  • Use economic abuse: Prevent you from getting or keeping a job. Make you ask for money. Give you an allowance. Take your money. Prevent access or knowledge of family income.
  • Use male privilege: Treat you like a servant. Make all the big decisions. Act like the “master of the castle”. Be the one to define men’s and women’s roles.
  • Use children: Make you feel guilty about the children. Use the children to relay messages. Use visitation to harass you. Threaten to take the children away.
  • Use Isolation: Control what you do, who you see and talk to, what you read and where you go. Limit your outside involvement. Use jealousy to justify actions.
  • Minimize, deny, and blame: Make light of the abuse and not take your concerns seriously. Say the abuse didn’t happen. Shift responsibility for abusive behavior and saying that you caused it.

       If you are concerned about your relationship, ask yourself the following questions. Does your partner:

  • Embarrass or belittle you or put you down?
  • Say hurtful things to you?
  • Dislike your friends and family and discourage your relationships with others?
  • Make all the decisions in the relationship?
  • Chastise you after social functions for talking with other people?
  • Act jealous of people you talk to?
  • Blame you for his or her mistakes?
  • Try to make you feel worthless or helpless?
  • Forbid or prevent you from working or going to school?
  • Keep money, credit cards, and checking accounts away from you?
  • Control access to your medicines or medical devices?
  • Threaten to have you deported?
  • Throw dishes or other objects?
  • Abuse your children or pet when mad at you?
  • Push, slap, kick, or otherwise assault you?
  • Demand sex, make you perform sexual acts you are not comfortable with, or sexually assault you?

       Warning signs that may mean that a person is a victim of domestic abuse include:

  • Bruises or injuries that look like they came from choking, punching, or being thrown down. Black eyes, red or purple marks at the neck, and sprained wrists are common injuries sustained in violent relationships. An injury such as bruised arms might suggest that a victim tried to defend herself.
  • Attempting to hide bruises with makeup or clothing.
  • Making excuses like tripping or being accident-prone or clumsy. Often the seriousness of the injury does not match up with the explanation.
  • Having low self-esteem; being extremely apologetic and meek.
  • Referring to the partner’s temper but not disclosing extent of abuse.
  • Having few close friends and being isolated from relatives and coworkers and kept from making friends.
  • Having little money available; may not have credit cards or even a car.
  • Having a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
  • Having symptoms of depression, such as sadness or hopelessness, or loss of interest in daily activities.
  • Talking about suicide or attempting suicide. For more information, see warning signs of suicide.
  • Encourage this person to talk with a health professional.

Why Victims Stay?

People who are not abused might find it hard to understand why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. Victims are often blamed. Some people falsely believe that if a person stays, she or he must be weak or needy. This is not true.

Changing or ending any relationship is hard. It can be even harder when the relationship is abusive. People stay for many reasons, such as:

  • Conflicting emotions. Abusers use verbal, emotional, and physical violence along with apologies, promises, and affection to control their victims. A victim may hold on to the hope that the abuser will change. Along with painful times, there may be loving moments. The abuser may also be the only one providing financial support for the family.
  • Shame. Victims often feel tremendous shame and embarrassment and use denial as a way of coping with the abuse.
  • Safety concerns. In many cases, the abuser has threatened to kill his partner, himself, or the children if his partner tries to leave. (This is also true of men who are abused.)
  • Lack of money and resources. Money is often tightly controlled, so a woman may fear losing financial support and may question how she will be able to support herself and her children. Women who are elderly or have disabilities may not feel that they have any other options than to stay with the abusive partner.
  • Depression and isolation. Abuse can leave victims depressed and emotionally drained. This can make it hard to act. And abusers try to isolate victims from family and friends so that the victims do not have anyone to support them if they do leave.
  • Cultural or religious pressures. In some cases, religious counselors, relatives, or friends may encourage women to stay to keep the family together no matter what.
  • Custody worries. A woman may worry about losing custody of her children if she leaves.
  • Fear of being deported. Immigrant women might stay in an abusive relationship because their partners have threatened to have them deported. Not being fluent in English might also be a challenge.

        ~ http:// www. everydayhealth .com / health-center / domestic-violence-why-victims-stay .aspx


  • In the United States, 1,000 to 1,600 women die at the hands of their male partners, often after a long escalating pattern of battering each year. Texas Council on Family Violence, 2009
  • Domestic violence is the single largest cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States. This is more than muggings, car accidents and rapes combined. Each year between 2 million and 4 million women are battered, and 2,000 of these battered women will die of their injuries. Annals of Emergency Medicine, 2000
  • 1 in 3 women have been victims of domestic violence at some point during their lives. Journal of American Medical Association, 2001
  • On average, more than 3 women are murdered by their intimate partners in the United States every day. The United States Department of Justice, 2001
  • Each day in the United States, more than 3 children die as a result of abuse at home. The United States Department of Health and Human Services, 2001
  • As many as 10 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US. Texas Council on Family Violence, 2003
  • A child’s exposure to the father abusing the mother is the strongest risk factor for transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. The American Psychological Association, 1996
  • 1 in 5 high school aged girls will be physically and/or sexually abused in a dating relationship, increasing the likelihood that the girl will abuse drugs and/or alcohol, develop an eating disorder, consider and/or attempt suicide, engage in risky behavior and/or become pregnant. The Journal of the American Medical Association, 2001
  • Over 324,000 pregnant women are involved in abusive relationships each year. The Maternal and Child Health Journal, 2000
  • An abuser’s unemployment, access to guns and threats of deadly violence are the strongest warning signs of female homicide in abusive relationships. The American Journal of Public Health, 2003

       Did you know??? The Clarks County Prosecuting Attorney

  • A battering incident is rarely an isolated event.
  • Battering tends to increase and become more violent over time.
  • Many batterers learned violent behavior growing up in an abusive family.
  • 25% to 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.
  • Domestic violence does not end immediately with separation. Over 70% of the women injured in domestic violence cases are injured after separation.