Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence.
Domestic violence happens when one person believes they are entitled to control another. It may involve physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological abuse, financial abuse and animal abuse. We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic violence affects not just victims, but neighbors, co-workers, relatives, and friends.
It crosses all ages and both genders, all ethnic groups, and all socio-economic levels.
The immediate and long-term impacts are dramatic and measurable:
- The United Way ranks domestic violence as the leading cause of birth defects.
- Studies have found that child abuse occurs in up to 70% of families that experience domestic violence.
- Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems, including depression, anxiety, symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, and violence towards peers.
- Research shows that 95% of boys and 72% of girls witnessing domestic violence will carry abuse into their adult relationships, as either the victim or the perpetrator.