What is Domestic Abuse?

Understanding Domestic Abuse

Domestic Abuse (which is also called relationship abuse, intimate partner violence or domestic violence) is a pattern of abusive behavior that is used by one person to gain or maintain power and control over a current or former intimate partner. Intimate relationships are often complex and overwhelming.

If you feel afraid, alter your behavior to avoid making your partner angry or are frequently fearful of upsetting them, know that nothing you have done justifies being abused…ever.

Please read the following characteristics of domestic abuse.  Your safety and well-being are important.


What Does Domestic Violence Look Like?

Below are signs that you may be in an emotionally, physically or sexually abusive relationship. If any of these statments describe your situation, please call our Crisis Hotline at 651-645-2824.

  • Chronic anger or jealousy; accuses you of cheating
  • Excessive silent treatment or ignores you
  • Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you
  • Dishonors, maligns your character to others
  • Gaslighting, shifts the blame on you
  • Exploits personal disclosures you privately shared
  • Shows distrust and acts jealous or possessive of you
  • Isolates you from family or friends
  • Prevents you from taking English classes
  • Threatens your immigration status or to have you deported
  • Outing or threatening to reveal your sexual orientation or gender identity
  • Uses offensive pronouns – such as such as referring to you as “it”
  • Body shames you or compares you to others
  • Telling you that you are not a real woman or man
  • Excessively monitors your activities, phone calls, etc.
  • Hides or withholds important documents (passport, birth certificate, licenses, work permit, etc.)
  • Uses threats of harm to themselves to manipulate you
  • Withholds affection
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets
  • Humiliates or intimidates you in any way
  • Physical harm
  • Damages property when angry
  • Pushes, punches, slaps, bites, kicks, or strangles you
  • Grabs or pulls your hair
  • Withholds food or medication
  • Drugs you or denies you sleep
  • Abandons you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place
  • Scares you by driving recklessly or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you
  • Forces you to leave your home
  • Traps you in your home or keeps you from leaving
  • Prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention
  • Harms your children or family members
  • Uses physical force in sexual situations
  • Views/treats women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles
  • Wants you to dress in a sexual way
  • Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names
  • Forces you into having sex or performing sexual acts you did not want to do
  • Insists it is your duty to have sex
  • Subjects you to unwanted, persistent and/or public grabbing/touching
  • Holds you down during sex against your will
  • Demands sex when you are sick, tired, or after beating you
  • Fails to disclose critical information, i.e., the presence of STDs
  • Uses coercive tactics, such as withholding of affection to gain consent
  • Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex
  • Involves other people in sexual activities with you against your will
  • Ignores your feelings regarding sex
  • Tampering with and/or withholding your birth control
  • Prevents you from receiving prenatal care
  • Refuses to use protection or not withdrawing during sex, as previously agreed upon
  • Forcing you to keep or terminate a pregnancy
  • Forces you to have or prevents you from having reproductive surgeries/procedures
  • Pressuring timelines
  • Ridicules, insults or diminishes your religious or spiritual beliefs, and/or prevents you from practicing​ your beliefs
  • Shames and/or silences you based on religious imperatives; ​
  • Demeans your mental health or questions your stability on the basis of their spiritual leanings ​
  • Uses religious texts to justify abusing you (such as marital rape, physical abuse or limiting your decisions or choices)
  • Prevents you from pursuing your education or employment goals, interferes with your work performance, and/or stalks you at work or school
  • Forces you to work following an abusive incident and/or when it is physically and/or mentally detrimental for you to do so
  • Withholds money and/or prevents you from accessing finances, threatens or punishes you for spending money
  • Demands major possessions and property (e.g. cars, leases) be in their name, not yours​
  • Invests your money or accrues debt in your name without your knowledge
  • Coerces you to purchase items, refinance a mortgage or take out a loan
  • Refuses to work or contribute to the household and places the burden you
  • Fails to provide adequate care to child/ren
  • Neglects Child/ren’s medical and/or educational needs
  • Harms pets ​
  • Threatens to take the child/ren and/or pets away​
  • Discredits your parenting abilities
  • Contradicts your parenting ​
  • Uses the children to stalk, spy or reveal information on you ​
  • Coerces your children to choose sides ​
  • Fails to honor child custody/parenting time arrangements

“We need you. You are the center of our world. You may have a profound sense of hopelessness, feel defeated, and your world feels shattered – but there is hope. There are more of us who are here to help than there are those who will try to hurt you. We can work together and together we will never give up.”

– Child of a Victim

Domestic Violence Statistics

20 people per minute

are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States on average.

1 in every 4 females

will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

1 in 15 children

are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to the violence.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence