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Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior/tactics used by someone against their intimate partner in an attempt to gain or maintain power and control. Domestic violence is culturally learned and socially condoned. Types of abuse can include physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. Domestic violence can also be perpetrated by and/or against a member of the same family or household.

Domestic violence is not limited to specific groups based on race, socioeconomic status, gender identity, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, age, religious affiliation, or social location, but rather is perpetrated by abusers from all social groups. Every survivor of domestic violence has the right to legal relief and supportive services.

While the dynamics of abuse in the relationship are often the same for members of different communities and social groups, an individual’s experience, response, and needs in relation to abuse are unique and can vary. LGBTQ victims, victims of color, victims with varying abilities, victims of different age groups, immigrant victims, and refugee victims may experience different forms of abuse and barriers to services that are directly related to their identity.  Every victim of domestic violence, whether female, male, trans, gay or straight, has the right to safety and assistance.


Abusers use a variety of tactics to gain and maintain power and control in their relationships. It is important to note that abusers choose to perpetrate these acts and those acts are not the result of their partner’s behavior. The types of abuse include, but are not limited to:

Emotional abuse can include name-calling, put downs, humiliation, and other acts that seek to lower a victim’s self esteem.

Psychological abuse can include using threats, playing mind games, making the victim think that they are crazy, and other acts that instill fear in the victim.

Economic abuse can include controlling the money, bank accounts, or assets belonging to the family; not allowing the victim to work; interfering with the victim's work to the point that they lose their job; making the victim completely responsible for bringing in income to the family; and other acts that set up a financial dependence in the relationship.

Sexual abuse can include forcing the victim to engage in non-consensual sexual acts, withholding sex, and other acts that exploit a victim’s right to express their own sexuality. 

Technology abuse can include the misuse of technology (like mobile devices, computers, GPS, social media) to stalk, harass and exert power and control over a victim.

Isolation can include preventing a victim’s contact with family and friends, re-locating a victim to a new location where they don't know anyone, controlling a victim's interactions with people, and other acts that separate a victim from their support network.

Stalking can include repeated and unnecessary contact via text message, phone calls, email, or social media, planned appearances at places that the victim frequents, monitoring the victim's activities through the use of technology, and other acts that control a victim’s movement or induce fear. 

Physical violence can include kicking, hitting, punching, choking, pushing, withholding food, withholding a victim's medication or access to mobility or sensory related equipment, keeping a victim from seeking necessary medical attention, and other acts that inhibit a victim’s physical well-being.


Does your partner:

  • behave in an over-protective manner or become extremely jealous?
  • threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or themselves?
  • call, text, or email you at an excessive rate?
  • deny you access to resources, such as: bank accounts, credit cards, or the car, or control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
  • prevent you from seeing family or friends?
  • get suddenly angry or lose their temper?
  • destroy personal property or throw things around?
  • control how you dress?
  • withhold medication or deny you access to health care?
  • threaten to reveal your personal medical status or history?
  • use your status within a religious community to harass, threaten, or intimidate you?
  • participate in behaviors that make you question your mental health?
  • threaten to expose your citizenship status or have you deported?
  • use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
  • hit, punch, slap, kick, shove, choke or bite you?
  • deny you access to your immigration documents?
  • control where you go, when you can go, and who you are with?
  • make you perform sexual acts that you did not want to do?
  • control your expression of gender identity or sexual orientation?
  • threaten to “out” you if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer?
  • humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?
  • exploit their military status to prevent you from leaving?
  • prevent you from completing your schoolwork or work tasks?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence. You are not to blame and you are not alone. Help is available. Click here to find your local domestic violence service provider.