What is Domestic Violence?

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. Battering happens when one person believes he or she is entitled to control another. Assault, battering and domestic violence are crimes.

Battering escalates. It often begins with behaviors like threats, name-calling, violence in the presence of the other (such as punching a fist through a wall), and/or damage to objects or pets. It may escalate to restraining, pushing, slapping, and/or pinching. The battering may include punching, kicking, biting, sexual assault, tripping, throwing. Finally, it may become life threatening with serious behaviors such as choking, breaking bones, or the use of weapons.

Below are just some of the acts of domestic violence:

PHYSICAL VIOLENCE
Any use of size, strength, or presence to control, hurt, or cause fear to someone else.

They can be divided into three categories:

Physical Contact Between Two People

  • pushing
  • holding against your will
  • slapping
  • biting
  • choking
  • hitting while pregnant
  • sitting on you
  • attack with a gun
  • forced sex
  • shoving
  • grabbing
  • hair pulling
  • kicking
  • backhanding
  • pushing you out of car
  • attack with object
  • pinning against wall
  • punching with a fist
  • banging head on wall
  • kneeing
  • burning
  • attack with a knife
  • hitting you with the car
  • hurting your pet
  • hurting children
  • scratching
  • pinning you down

Physical Use of Objects

  • throwing objects
  • breaking things
  • driving recklessly to scare you
  • punching wall
  • hitting locker
  • ripping up pictures
  • breaking car window
  • slamming doors
  • tearing clothes

Use of Size or Presence

  • blocking the doorway
  • blocking your car
  • taking away your car keys
  • taking your money or checkbook
  • unplugging the phone so you can’t call friends or family
  • clenching fists as if to hit

VERBAL VIOLENCE
This includes any use of words or voice to control or hurt another person.

  • yelling
  • insults
  • being sarcastic
  • calling you stupid
  • threatens to use violence
  • threatens to kill
  • name calling
  • threatens to hurt others

EMOTIONAL VIOLENCE
This type of violence involves any actions or lack of action that is meant to control or demean someone.

  • threatening suicide
  • following you
  • spending all your money
  • asking who you were with
  • intense jealousy
  • criticizing your looks
  • saying no one else would have you
  • preventing you from going to school
  • laughing at you
  • making fun of you
  • telling you that you are crazy
  • pressuring you for sex
  • checking up on you
  • insulting your friends
  • not allowing you to use phone
  • asking what you were doing
  • lying

What a Battered Person Faces When They Leave
Many people assume that once a battered individual takes the first step outside of their home or relationship, the hardship and abuse will end. Victims face many difficulties when they leave, including fear of injury or death, economic hardship, fear of losing their children, and poor criminal justice response.

Fear of Injury or Death
The highest risk for serious injury or death to a battered woman comes when she is leaving or when she has left her violent partner. (Barbara Hart, 1988) 78% of stalking victims are women. 60% of female stalking victims are stalked by intimate partners. (Center for Policy Research, Stalking in America, July 1997)

Economic Hardship
74% of employed battered women experience harassment at work by their abusive partner, either in person or on the telephone. This harassment often results in their being late to work, missing work altogether and possibly losing their jobs. (Zorza, “Woman Battering: A Major Cause of Homelessness,”Clearinghouse Review, 1991)

Up to 50% of all homeless women and children in this country are fleeing domestic violence. (Elizabeth Schneider, Legal Reform Efforts for BatteredWomen, 1990)

Fear of Losing Children
Of the domestic violence-related child abductions, most are perpetrated by fathers or others acting on the father’s behalf. Battering men use custodial access to the children as a tool to terrorize battered women or to retaliate for separation. (David Finkelhor, Gerald Hotaling & Andrea Sedlak,Protective Services Quarterly, 1993)

Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live inhouseholds with children under age 12. (U. S. Department of Justice, Violenceby Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses,Boyfriends and Girlfriends, March 1998)

Poor Criminal Justice Response
Injuries that battered women received are at least as serious as injuries suffered in 90% of violent felony crimes, yet under state laws, they are almost always classified as misdemeanors. (Joan Zorza, The Gender Bias Committee’s Domestic Violence Study, 33 Boston Bar J.4, 13, July/August 1989)