What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a pattern of coercive tactics abusers use to obtain and maintain control and power over their partner.

 power and control wheel

Domestic Violence is assault or threat by one family or household member (current or former) against another. Household members are defined by law as spouses, former spouses, persons who have lived together, persons who have had a child together, or persons related by blood adoption, or law.

Tactics of control include, but are not limited to: 

  • Physical abuse: pushing, pinching, hitting, biting, kicking, slapping, hair pulling, etc. 
  • Emotional and verbal abuse: put-downs, public humiliation, name-calling, mind games, manipulation, etc.
  • Isolation: moving victim away from family, not allowing victim to see family or friends, extreme jealousy, interfering with victim's ability to hold a job, etc.
  • Threats and intimidation: threats of violence against victim, relatives, pets, or property; threats of suicide; threats of taking the children, etc.
  • Sexual abuse and rape: inappropriate or unwanted sexual attention; jealously, withholding sex and affection, affairs, criticizing/minimizing partners feelings a needs regarding sex, forced sex, etc. 

The Existence of emotional and verbal abuse, isolation, intimidation and threats within the relationship may indicate that physical abuse will follow. Even if these coercive tactics are used without physical abuse, these incidents and their effects should not be minimized.