Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, education, religion, disability status, or sexual orientation. It can happen to couples who are married, living together, or in a dating relationship.
Abuse can take many forms and often begins by the abuser exerting control over certain parts of their partner’s life. The abuse then progresses in frequency and intensity.
Forms of abuse
- Physical: Any forceful or violent behavior
- Emotional: Any abuse that attacks someone’s self-esteem and definitions of who they are
- Economic: The use of finances to control or limit a partner
- Psychological: Any abuse with the threat of violence, including fear, pain, and degradation
Many survivors and families realize after physical abuse begins that emotional, economic, or psychological abuse were present during the early stages of the relationship.
People tend to recognize domestic violence as the physical act of a male spouse or partner physically harming a wife or girlfriend. Actually, power and control issues are prevalent in all types of relationships and can include female abuse of a partner. Teen dating violence; violence within gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender relationships; violence against people with disabilities, and violence against Deaf people of all identities are often overlooked.
Within the last several years, these issues have been well studied and better understood. Therefore, the term “domestic violence” is often referred to as “intimate partner violence.” All intimate partner violence is illegal and traumatic.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- Nearly 1 in 4 women in the United States have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime
- 1 in 7 men in the U.S. have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime
- Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetimes (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively)
- The costs of intimate partner rape, physical assault, and stalking exceeds $5.8 billion each year, nearly $4.1 billion of which is for direct medical and mental health care services
- 3 million intimate partner violence victimizations occur among U.S. women ages 18 and older each year
- Intimate partner violence survivors lose a total of nearly 8 million days of paid work
Teen dating violence
Teen relationships can be intense, emotional, and sometimes, volatile. Many times parents are unaware or underestimate how intense the relationships have become and may not see signs that the relationship has moved beyond a healthy dating relationship. Teens may confuse jealousy, excessive contact, or other controlling behaviors with love. Expect Respect is a program of SAFE that helps teens learn about and build healthy relationships.
Violence against people with disabilities
While all of us want or need support, many individuals with disabilities rely on others for food, medication, finances, personal care, or equipment that is necessary for independence and survival. People with disabilities may experience forms of abuse such as denial of these basic needs by a partner or personal care provider. This can have devastating emotional, medical, or even lethal consequences. These factors can also limit a person with disabilities ability to report abuse or ask for help. The SAFE Disability Services Program works to educate about the unique dynamics of abuse and people with disabilities. SAFE is committed to ensuring that our services are accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender violence
Partner violence appears to occur in the LGBTQIA community with the same frequency and intensity as the heterosexual community. Unfortunately, LGBTQIA-partner violence remains underreported and largely unacknowledged in both the heterosexual and LGBTQIA communities. A common threat an abusive partner will use to maintain control is the threat of “outing” the survivor. LGBTQIA survivors may resist seeking help due to concerns that they will not receive the same fair and unbiased assistance and services as heterosexual survivors. The SAFE Community Education Program’s SAFER Campaign (Safety Awareness for Every Relationship) explains LGBTQIA violence in depth and offers information and help.
If you have questions about getting help, call our 24-hour Hotline:
For Deaf people of all identities, please use relay/VRS.