Facts about domestic violence and abuse:

  • Abusers are found in all groups, socioeconomic levels, religions, backgrounds, genders, and cultures.
  • Abusers may hide in plain sight from others as law-abiding and nonviolent outside of their homes, or they may have a long history of breaking the law.
  • Victimization occurs in all types of relationships and is not limited to female victims in heterosexual relationships.
  • Abuse occurs in long-term, formal commitments as well as in briefer, more informal relationships.
  • Abuse can persist and may escalate after one person has acted to end a relationship.
  • Domestic violence (DV), sometimes referred to as intimate-partner violence, is not simply about violence. It is a systematic pattern of power and control exerted by one person over another that can result in many forms and degrees of agression, including emotional, verbal, financial, sexual, and physical.
  • Abuse does not always include physical violence and assault; when it does, there may be no outward signs of injury. 
  • The trauma caused by domestic abuse/DV can last a lifetime and persist across generations. Knowledgeable help and support can help survivors and their children move beyond the effects of trauma and forge safe, stable lives.

WARNING SIGNS / RED FLAGS -- an abuser may show a few or many of these:

  • Checks your email, phone, calendar, or social media without your permission; feels entitled to invade your privacy
  • Extremely controlling behavior
  • Follows you or tracks your location (stalking); asks others for information about you; may call/text you excessively
  • Wants to dictate how you should look, what you can wear or eat, where you can go, whom you can see
  • Pressures you about sex or forces you into it when you don’t want to
  • Unfairly accuses you of cheating, looking at or flirting with others, of wanting to be with someone else
  • Expects financial control, withholds money, takes your earnings (or prevents you from working); may be secretive about spending, debts, income, account and property information. More information on financial abuse can be found here: Financial Abuse Fact Sheet
  • Takes, searches, damages, hides, or destroys your phone, keys, car, purse, wallet, clothing, important documents or other property, or threatens to do so
  • Gives you unwanted gifts and attention; may show up unannounced and/or leave things you don’t want in your car, home, at your work, etc.
  • Threatens to ruin your reputation, get you fired, keep you from seeing your children, or report you for crimes you didn’t commit; threatens deportation if you’re not an established citizen
  • Fails to take responsibility, blaming you and others for his or her angry outbursts, bad moods, and bad behaviors
  • Feels entitled to take advantage of you and others
  • Gaslights you by denying events, questioning your sanity, etc., possibly causing you or others to doubt your own memory, perceptions, and grasp of reality. Brainwashes you that you're unworthy, no one else would have you, no one will believe you, etc.
  • Expects you to do all of the household chores, no matter how busy, tired, or sick you are; angrily refuses to do his or her fair share
  • Allows his/her family members or friends to be abusive toward you
  • Tries to control your time, isolates you from others, doesn't want you to work or go to school
  • Insists that you get pregnant or controls your birth control, or intentionally gets pregnant knowing you don’t want that
  • Possible history of past abusive relationships, may fail to disclose past domestic-violence charges to you
  • Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then neither can anyone else”
  • Threatens to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, pets, and/or livestock
  • Threatens self-harm or suicide when upset with you or faced with the  relationship ending
  • Starts a relationship with an initial dating phase of “love bombing,” showering constant attention and flattery on you, but now you can do nothing right
  • Escalates his or her abusive behavior over time; has you walking on eggshells more and more; you may be feeling increasingly discouraged, depressed, and/or anxious about the relationship
  • Makes empty apologies, promises, and excuses -- and may temporarily be on better behavior -- but there is never any lasting desired change
  • Hurts you physically (hitting, slapping, punching, pinching, jabbing, kicking, biting, strangling, suffocating); may use or threaten to use a weapon
  • Restrains you from leaving, telephoning for help, taking your children to a calmer environment, etc.
  • Verbally abuses you; intimidates, insults, belittles, and criticizes you; humiliates you in private or in front of others; compares you unfavorably to others; tries to turn others, including your children, against you; sabotages and undermines you
  • Has problems with anger management, rage, defensiveness, intolerance to frustration and criticism
  • May try to present a perfect picture to outsiders including family, friends and therapists, while being abusive in private
  • Forces you to use alcohol or drugs when you don't want to
  • Intentionally deprives you of sleep
  • Denies your needs for medical care
  • Gets abusive only when drinking or using drugs. Abuse is inexcusable at any time, however, whether sober or under the influence.