Domestic violence and domestic abuse are defined as patterns of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Intimate partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, lesbian, or transgender; living together, separated or dating.
The abuse often begins with isolation, jealousy, threats or name-calling and may include emotional, sexual or verbal abuse. It can progress to physical violence like pushing, hitting and kicking. If the abuse escalates, it can result in serious injuries, hospitalization, or even death.
Power and Control
Domestic violence is used primarily for one purpose: to exert and maintain total control over the victim. In addition to physical violence, abusers can use many different tactics to exert power over their partners. These warning signs may help you decide if you or someone you know is being abused.
Anyone Can Be a Victim
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Both men and women can be abused, but most victims are women.
Children living in homes where domestic violence is occurring are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Frequent exposure to violence in the home not only predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems, but also teaches them that violence in relationships is normal. This may increase their risk of becoming the next generation of victims and abusers.
In fact, 62% of 11- to 14-year-olds who have been in a relationship know friends who had been verbally abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend, according to a 2008 study by Liz Claiborne, Inc.