Domestic violence is a pattern of violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the abuse of a spouse or partner at a variety of levels – physical, psychological, emotional, ﬁnancial or sexual. Domestic violence is not just a one-time incident, but a pattern of behaviors over time. It is a common worldwide phenomenon that continues to grow each year.
Both men and women experience domestic violence, but it is particularly higher among women. It often occurs because the abuser believes that their actions are justifiable, deserved or acceptable. However, these actions are absolutely never just.
How Do You Know if You Are Being Abused?
Sometimes it may be difficult to recognize the abuse. Abusers use many ways to isolate, intimidate and control their partners. Early on, your partner may seem attentive, generous and protective in ways that later turn out to be frightening and controlling. Initially the abuse is isolated incidents for which your partner expresses remorse and promises never to do again or can rationalize the situation as being stressed or caused by something you did not do.
What You Can Do if You Are Being Abused?
Even though you cannot stop the abuse caused by your partner – only he or she can do that – you can find help and support for yourself and your family.
- Confide in someone you trust. They may be your friend, a family member, a neighbor, a co-worker, or staff members of support agencies. Talk to them in a private, safe place. You do not need to face abuse alone.
- Tell your physician, nurse, psychiatrist or therapist about the abuse.
- Get medical help if you have been hurt, go to the hospital or your doctor.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE, your state domestic violence coalition, and/or a local domestic violence agency.
- Call the police if you are in danger.
- Go to a safe place such as a domestic violence shelter.
Violence in the home harms everyone in the family. Children are especially vulnerable. When they see violent behavior between family members, or when they’re abused themselves, they may grow up to be abusive to their partners or children. If you’re coping with the violence in your home, remember you’re not alone. Abusive behavior affects every neighborhood, ethnic background and economic class. No family is immune. But no family should be victimized by violence. You know your situation better than anyone else. Don’t let someone talk you into doing something that isn’t right for you.