What is Domestic Violence?

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Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence — also called intimate partner violence — occurs between people in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can take many forms, including emotional, sexual and physical abuse and threats of abuse. Abuse by a partner can happen to anyone, but domestic violence is most often directed toward women. Domestic violence can happen in heterosexual and same-sex relationships.

Controlling Behavior

Controlling behavior refers to how an abuser maintains control or dominance over the victim. They usually believe they are justified in their controlling behavior, and the consequent abuse is the core issue in domestic violence. This behavior is often subtle, pervasive, and nearly always insidious. 

Controlling behavior can include the following:

Physical Abuse

Physical abuse is one of the most common and known forms of domestic violence. Generally, this form of abuse refers to physically aggressive and indirectly physically harmful behavior. Additionally, it involves withholding the resources necessary to maintain health and the threat of physical abuse.

They may include, but are not limited to, the following:

Psychological and Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse is any behavior exploiting the victim’s insecurity, vulnerability, or character. It involves undermining or attempting to undermine the victim’s self-worth and self-esteem. Such behaviors usually include constant degradation, brainwashing, manipulation, intimidation, or control of the other partner to the individual’s detriment.

These acts constitute the following acts:

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse is any behavior that utilizes sex to control or demean the victim. You should note that having consent in the past does not guarantee current permission. This form of abuse typically involves physical and verbal behavior. Some of these acts include the following:

Financial Abuse

In the case of financial abuse, the perpetrator wields their influence over the financial resources in the relationship as a way to oppress the victim. This form of domestic abuse may appear as denying or limiting the victim’s access to funds. Here are some ways an abuser can manipulate economic resources:

Verbal Abuse

Verbal abuse typically involves coercion, threats, and blame. This form of abuse refers to any abusive language used to embarrass, threaten, or denigrate the other person. Verbal abuse can include the following acts:


Isolation is closely related to controlling behaviors discussed above. It is a unique form of domestic abuse, meaning it can be inflicted by the abuser but can also be resorted to by the victim for several valid reasons. The idea is to maintain control over their victim primarily. By keeping the victim from doing what they want to, seeing who they want to see, controlling how the victim feels and thinks, or keeping them from setting and meeting goals, the abuser isolates the victim from personal and public resources that can help them leave the relationship.

By keeping their partner isolated, the perpetrator is holding the victim from contact with the outside world, which may reinforce the victim’s beliefs and perceptions. It is important to note that isolation often begins as an expression of love to their victims with sentiments such as, “if you loved me, you would want to spend time with me, not your family .” It gradually progresses, and the isolation expands, excluding or limiting their contact with anyone but the perpetrator. Finally, the victim is left alone without any internal or external resources to change their life.

It is also good to note that in other cases, the victim isolates themselves from existing support systems and resources due to shame of bruises and injuries, the abuser’s treatment of family and friends, and the abuser’s behavior in public. Additionally, self-isolation may develop from fear of public humiliation or harm to themselves and others. Sadly, the victim can also feel guilty for the perpetrator’s behavior, the relationship condition, or several other reasons based on the messages received from the abuser.


Stalking is a severe form of emotional and psychological abuse. It is majorly experienced by women, with four out of five cases of this abuse being against the female gender. Simply put, stalking is the unwanted and persistent pursuit of another person. The quest usually leads the victim to fear physical harm or death to themselves, friends, kids, family, and other loved ones. It may occur during or after a relationship or marriage has ended. This form of abuse can harm the victims, causing intense feelings of stress and anxiety, sleep difficulties, excessive vulnerability, depression, anger, eating disorders, and more.

General Statistics


Sexual Violence






Children & Domestic Violence



[i] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/teen_dating_violence.html

[ii] [vi] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/datingmatters_flyer_2012-a.pdf

[iii-vii] http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/cdc_nisvs_overview_insert_final-a.pdf

[viii-xvii] https://www.loveisrespect.org/pdf/College_Dating_And_Abuse_Final_Study.pdf

[xviii-xxiii] http://www.urban.org/UploadedPDF/412750-teen-dating-abuse.pdf

Economic Impact


Physical/Mental Impact