Domestic Violence

Phillip Evans, M.S.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence (DV) can be defined as any pattern of behavior employed by a current or former spouse, intimate partner, or date including physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, sexual violence, harassment, stalking, or financial control in order to coerce, control, or isolate another within a current or former opposite sex or same sex relationship.

Does DV happen very much?

Yes. According to the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, between two and four million women annually are victimized by DV. Further, over half of the women visiting medical emergency rooms report at least one incident of intimate violence during their lifetime. Clearly, DV is being reported in epidemic proportions.

MYTH: All women and men who batter are big, mean, and ugly.

TRUTH: Women and men of all races, classes, cultures, and appearances have used or experienced abusive and controlling behaviors within their relationships.

MYTH: I must be the only person with this problem.

TRUTH: Battering is a widespread problem of epidemic proportions.

MYTH: If I (the abuser) wasn't physically violent, then it's not really abusive.

TRUTH: DV includes verbal, psychological, financial, and physical abuse.

I am not sure I am being abused; how do I know?

You are abused if...

  • you are called names, cursed at, or blamed whenever things go wrong.
  • your free time is limited to your partner's interests only.
  • your access to money is limited or prohibited.
  • you feel the need to cover for or make excuses for your partner's behavior.
  • you have been shoved, hit, shaken, or slapped.
  • your partner makes light of their abusive behavior toward you.
  • you are continually put down or humiliated.
  • your partner intimidates you through looks, actions, destruction of property, or the display of weapons.
  • your partner controls what you do, who you see, and who you can talk to.
  • your partner threatens or abuses your loved ones or pets.
  • there is always a scene if you express an opposite opinion.
  • you live in fear of your partner.
  • you are sometimes "punished for misbehaving."
  • you have been forced to have sex.
  • you have been deprived of keys, money, etc. as punishment.
  • your partner has withheld approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment.
  • your partner has ridiculed or insulted your most valued beliefs, your religion, your race, or class.
  • your partner has been very jealous and/or harassed you about imagined affairs.
  • your partner has insisted that you dress the way they want.
  • your partner has driven away your friends.
  • your partner has subjected you to dangerous, reckless driving.
  • your partner has thrown things at you.
  • your partner has raped you.
  • your partner has threatened to kill themself or you.

What can be done about DV?

First, know what DV is. DV is any pattern of behavior including physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, sexual violence, harassment, stalking or financial control employed by a current or former spouse, intimate partner, or date in order to coerce, control, or isolate another within a current or former relationship. Second, develop a Safety Plan. In a safe place, unknown to the batterer, set aside keys, emergency money, phone numbers (relatives, crisis lines, emergency services), and documents (passports, drivers license, checkbook, insurance). Know how to get out of your home safely and quickly. Plan beforehand where you will go. Call 911. If you are currently being battered, or someone you know is, call right away for help. DV is a crime, NOT a "private family matter." Next, exercise your legal rights. Seek protective orders if available. Seek custody of children and/or dependent elders. Seek legal counsel (call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233, for TDD call 800-787-3224). Finally, get help. Services are available for both victims and perpetrators of DV.

Where do I seek help?

National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233)

Counseling Services (256-782-5475)

Is there anything else to know about DV?

Yes. Always remember the following:

  • You are not to blame for being beaten or abused.
  • You are not the cause of another's violent behavior.
  • You do not like it or want it.
  • You do not have to take it.
  • You are an important human being.
  • You are a worthwhile person.
  • You deserve to be treated with respect.
  • You do have power over your own life.
  • You can use your power to take good care of yourself.
  • You can decide for yourself what is best for you.
  • You can make changes in your life if you want to.
  • You are not alone. You can ask others to help you.
  • You are worth working for and changing for.
  • You deserve to make your own life safe and happy.
  • You have the right to make mistakes.
  • You have the right to change your mind.

Courtesy of California State University, Hayward