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  • Empowering Survivors of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is abuse that occurs between family members or between intimate partners. One person in the relationship gains power and control over the other by using physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary; however, the one constant factor of domestic violence is one partner’s consistency to maintain power and control over the other.

It is important to know that domestic violence does not always mean physical abuse. Verbal and psychological abuse can often be just as severe as physical violence and cause psychological trauma. The devastating emotional and psychological consequences of domestic violence can last a lifetime.

Domestic violence can occur between husbands, wives, ex-spouses, dating partners, same-sex partners, adult children and aging or ailing parents, parents and children, or caregivers and clients. However, the vast majority of victims are women. The abusive behavior can take several different forms, including:

Includes kicking, biting, pushing, choking, hair pulling, physical restraint, assault with weapons, torturing, burning, confining or physically hurting another person in other ways.

Includes misuse, theft, or extortion of another person’s money, property, or possessions.

The abuser stops the ability of the victim to leave by damaging the vehicle and/or hiding the vehicle. Material abuse also includes possessions disappearing from the victim’s home and forcing or tricking them to sell their home or possessions.

Includes any forced sexual activity including marital rape, physical attacks on sexual parts of the body, fondling, incest, forced sodomy, and other forms of sexual abuse.

Involves systematically destroying the other person’s self-esteem by doing any of the following:

  • Manipulation or “playing games”
  • Intimidation using hard looks, a loud voice, gestures, and actions, or destroying the person’s personal belongings
  • Degradation, humiliation, name-calling, or belittling
  • Threatening harm to the person or loved ones, suicide, destruction of property, abandonment, or deprivation of basic needs, such as food or clothing
  • Extreme controlling behavior (attempts to control the person’s behavior and restrict contact with others)
  • Involuntary servitude (forcing an adult person to perform any task and/or forcing a child to perform inappropriate or inhumane tasks)
  • Habitual scapegoating and blaming

The abuser uses tactics to limit their partner’s access to assets, concealing information and accessibility to finances, such as bank accounts. Thus, the victim has limited recourse to exit the abusive relationship, which diminishes their capacity to support themselves and force them to depend on the abuser financially.

So how do you know if you’re the victim of financial abuse? Ask yourself if your partner does any of the following:

  • Control how money is spent by giving you an “allowance”?
  • Deny you direct access to bank accounts?
  • Run up large debts on joint accounts without your permission?
  • Refuse to pay bills for accounts that are in your name in order to ruin your credit?
  • Force you to turn over paychecks?
  • Withhold money for basic necessities like food, clothing, medication and housing?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be a victim of financial abuse.

The abuser pressures the woman to have sex or tampers with her birth control to cause a pregnancy. The abuser may ensure the failure of birth control by poking holes into condoms or completely removing contraception by flushing birth control pills down the toilet, etc. Reproductive coercion also includes verbal sabotage when the abuser says things such as:

  • “You would have my baby if you really loved me”
  • “I’ll leave you if you don’t get pregnant”
  • “I’ll hurt you if you don’t agree to become pregnant”
  • …among many other verbal pressures

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