Understanding Abuse

Domestic Violence

      Domestic Violence-Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Anyone of any race, gender, age, sexual orientation, social status or religion can be a victim of domestic violence.

     Although it is not always easy to immediately recognize an abusive relationship, knowing some of the signs of domestic violence can help save a life.

Abuse occurs in many forms:

  • Physical

  • Emotional 

  • Financial 

  • Sexual 

  • Digital

  • Reproductive coercion

 Sexual Assault

& Rape

Sexual Assault & Rape- is an act in which a person intentionally sexually touches another person without that person's consent, or coerces or physically forces a person to engage in a sexual act against their will. Sexual violence happens in every community and affects people of all genders and ages.

Forms of sexual violence include:

  • Rape or sexual assault

  • Child sexual assault and incest

  • Sexual assault by a person’s spouse or partner

  • Unwanted sexual contact/touching

  • Sexual harassment

  • Sexual exploitation and trafficking

  • Exposing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent

  • Masturbating in public

  • Watching someone engage in private acts without their knowledge or permission

  • Nonconsensual image sharing

Teen Dating Violence

 Teen Dating Violence-Is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional aggression within a dating relationship, including stalking. It can occur in person or electronically and might occur between a current or former dating partner.


  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.

  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner, a figure that far exceeds rates of other types of youth violence.

  • One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.


Stalking is defined as: a course of conduct directed at an individual that “places that person in reasonable fear of the death of, or serious bodily injury to that person; an immediate family [member] … of that person; or a spouse or intimate partner of that person; or causes, attempts to cause, or would reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress …” to that person, a family member or an intimate partner.


Know the signs:

  • Repeatedly call you, including hang-ups.

  • Follow you and show up wherever you are.

  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, texts, or e-mails.

  • Damage your home, car, or other property.

  • Monitor your phone calls or computer use.

  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.

  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.

  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets

  • Find out about you by using public records or on-line search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.

  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.

Effects of Violence on Children

Children who live in homes with domestic violence can be deeply affected by the emotional, verbal and physical abuse they have witnessed and experience resulting symptoms of trauma. Many children will feel responsible for the violence and some will even attempt to break up the violence, some of whom end up injured. Many children will blame themselves for not only causing the violence but also for not preventing it. Children must understand that the violence in their homes is not their fault.


  • 5 million children witness domestic violence each year in the US

  • 40 million adult Americans grew up living with domestic violence

  • Children who’ve experienced domestic violence often meet the diagnostic criteria for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the effects on their brain are similar to those experienced by combat veterans

  • Domestic violence in childhood is directly correlated with difficulties in learning, lower IQ scores, deficiencies in visual-motor skills, and problems with attention and memory

  • Those who grow up with domestic violence are six times more likely to commit suicide and 50 times more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol

  • Children of domestic violence are three times more likely to repeat the cycle in adulthood, as growing up with domestic violence is the most significant predictor of whether or not someone will be engaged in domestic violence later in life

(Stats from Children of Domestic Violence)