Memorial Regional Health: Stopping domestic violence before it starts
- Tells you you can never do anything right
- Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
- Prevents you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
- Insults, demeans, or shames you with put-downs
- Controls every penny spent in the household
- Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
- Looks at you or acts in ways that frighten you
- Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
- Prevents you from making your own decisions
- Tells you you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
- Prevents you from working or attending school
- Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
- Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
- Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
- Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
Nearly half of all domestic violence incidents go unreported to the police, making intimate partner violence an often silent problem within households and communities.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime, and one in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence isn’t a crime that affects only women. In fact, it can affect people of all ages, genders, races, and sexual orientations.
“Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them,” according to the hotline. “They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship.”
Is this abuse?
Sometimes, it’s difficult for victims of abuse to know if they’re being abused. Because domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, or IPV, doesn’t always include physical violence, this can cause confusion for victims.
But there really is no gray area when it comes to domestic violence. It includes behaviors that “arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want,” the hotline reports.
The Power & Control Wheel is how the Hotline describes and defines abusive relationships. It’s a diagram of the tactics an abusive partner uses to keep his or her victim in the relationship, such as using coercion and threats, intimidation, emotional abuse, economic abuse, isolation, children, minimizing, denying, and blaming.
The reasons someone uses these tactics to gain control do not matter. Abuse is never justified. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that intimate partner violence starts early and continues throughout the lifespan, which means it’s important to stop it before it starts.
“Supporting the development of healthy, respectful, and nonviolent relationships has the potential to reduce the occurrence of IPV and prevent its harmful and long-lasting effects on individuals, families, and the communities where they live,” according to the CDC. This approach includes teaching safe, healthy relationship skills to children and teens, disrupting developmental pathways toward partner violence, strengthening economic support for families, and increasing victim-centered services that support survivors.
What to do
If you’re not sure whether your relationship qualifies as intimate partner violence, there are tools that can help you make this determination. A good rule of thumb is, if you have to ask, the answer is probably “yes.”
Online learning resources can help victims better understand domestic violence and what to do about it. One of the best national resources is the hotline.
National, state, and regional organizations are working toward addressing the problem at the societal, community, relationship, and individual levels, according to the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence, in an effort to end domestic violence.