What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviours used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.


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Domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim — or perpetrators — of domestic violence. That includes behaviours that physically harm, intimidate, manipulate or control a partner, or otherwise force them to behave in ways they don’t want to, including through physical violence, threats, emotional abuse, or financial control.

Source: https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/understand-relationship-abuse/

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Forms of Abuse

Physical abuse: this is the actual act or threat of an act that will cause bodily harm including but not limited to pushing, pinching, hitting, kicking, choking, burning, reckless driving, blocking exits, throwing objects and attacking with objects/weapons.

Emotional abuse: Use of actions and words that cause fear. Examples – isolating from others, insulting, demeaning, terrorizing, ignoring or undermining partner’s beliefs, downplaying or mocking partner’s accomplishments or intelligence, threatening to harm oneself if one partner does not comply with demands, instilling guilt and shame in a partner, denying the abuse and gas lighting.

Economic/financial abuse: Acts that result in financial control of another individual. Examples – limited or no access to money, not allowing the partner to work, stealing from the victim, withholding the victim’s paycheck or funds, and instilling fear in the partner about their expenses.

Stalking: Unwanted and obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person. Example – following in a vehicle, standing outside of work, or home, repeatedly calling one’s home or cell.

Cyberstalking: the use of the Internet or other electronic means to stalk or harass an individual. Examples: sending harassing emails or texts, stalking via social websites; tracking individuals’ online footprints to use for control at a later time, etc.

Find your Voice. We can Help.  For anonymous confidential help call or text the Awaaz Helpline –  at 210-446-6464

Am I being Abused?

Look over the following questions. Think about how you are being treated and how you treat your partner. Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.

Does your partner…

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? 
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets? 
  • Call you several times when you are away from them or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? 
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  • Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, lock you out or leave you stranded somewhere after a fight to “teach you a lesson?”

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act.
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behaviour.
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Do You Think Your Partner Might Be Abusive?

The following signs often occur before the manifestation of full abuse and may serve as red flags to indicate the future of the relationship. Think about the following questions and apply them to your partner. If you can identify with one or more of the scenarios or answer “yes” to any of the questions below, you may be with an abusive partner.

Does your partner…

  • Did your partner grow up in a violent family?
  • Does your partner tend to use the force of violence to “solve” their problems?
  • Does your partner have a quick temper? Do they overreact to little problems and frustration? Are they cruel to animals? Do they punch walls or throw things when they are upset?
  • Do they abuse alcohol or other drugs?
  • Do they have strong traditional ideas about “roles” in relationships? For example, do they think all women should stay home, care for their husbands, and follow their wishes and orders?
  • Are they jealous of your other relationships — anyone you may know? Do they keep tabs on you? Do they want to know where you are at all times? Do they want you with them all of the time? 
  • Do they have access to guns, knives or other lethal weapons? Do they talk of using them against people or threaten to use them to get even?
  • Do they expect you to follow their orders or advice? Do they become angry if you do not fulfil their wishes or if you cannot anticipate what they want?
  • Do they go through extreme highs and lows almost as though they are two different people? Are they extremely kind one time, and extremely cruel another?
  • When your partner gets angry, do you fear them? Do you find that not making them angry has become a major part of your life? Do you do what they want you to do, rather than what you want to do?
  • Do they treat you roughly? Do they physically force you to do what you do not want to do?
  • Do they threaten or abuse your pets?

Threats and physical abuse are prevalent in relationship violence, often occurring in an escalating cycle. 

Source: https://www.thehotline.org/identify-abuse/domestic-abuse-warning-signs/

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Relationship Violence and Culture

Societal and cultural factors contribute to perpetuating violent relationships. Below is a diagram that depicts some of how this is done.

A violent relationship, shown at the centre of the wheel, exists within the larger environment of society and culture.

It is important to acknowledge the cultural norms that victims bring with them. These norms dictate how they may experience domestic violence and how they may react to it. People who live in rural communities may adhere to strong values of independence that prevent them from seeking help from “outsiders” or urban programs. People of color may adhere to a code developed through historical experience that has taught them not to trust the “white” culture and the formal systems it offers for assistance (e.g., the criminal justice system, the social service system and domestic violence programs). Elderly people may have been conditioned not to discuss “personal” issues with strangers and are therefore reluctant to use “self-help” programs that require people to disclose abusive experiences. When people in same-sex relationships disclose domestic violence, they risk exposure to societal norms that condemn them as “evil” and expose them to hate crimes.

Common Myths

Let’s take a look at common excuses that abusive partners use and talk about why these, like all “reasons,” aren’t justification for violent and hurtful behaviour.

“I was drunk.” / “I was using drugs.”

Substance abuse isn’t an excuse for abuse. Some people drink and use drugs and don’t choose to abuse their partners. Ask yourself: how does your partner act when drunk around their friends? How do they treat you when they’re sober? A statistics teacher would tell you, “Correlation does not imply causation.” Just because two things happen together (like drinking and violence), it does not mean that one causes the other.

“I’m possessive because I care about you.”

Acting jealous, controlling, or possessive is not a way to show someone you care.

 “You got in my face/made me mad/got me wound up on purpose, and I had no choice. I can’t control it.”

Stress and anger issues don’t cause abusive behaviour. An abusive partner’s actions are always a choice that they make. If they realize that they have an anger issue-what are they doing about it? Ask yourself: how does your partner react when they are angry with other people (Moved this down)

“I have mental health issues or a personality disorder — ex. I’m bipolar, I have PTSD.”

Some people have mental health issues and don’t act abusive toward their partners. If an abusive partner is dealing with a mental health issue, ask yourself: have they been diagnosed by a professional? Are they seeking help or taking medications? Do they act abusively toward others (friends, family, coworkers), not just you?

 “I am stressed at work”

Everyone experiences different levels of stress at work- if your partner is working, he/she does too. There are ways to deal with stress at work, but taking it out on your partner is not one of them. It is an excuse to abuse. Would they fly off the handle at their boss? Chances are probably not, because they know they can’t get away with that behaviour around others.

 “I grew up in a violent home where I experienced or witnessed abuse.”

There are a lot of people who grow up in violent homes who choose not to abuse their partners. Many choose this because of how they grew up — they know how it felt to live in that situation and want healthier relationships for their partner and family. Do you find yourself making these excuses for how you act toward your partner? Or, on the other hand, do any of these excuses sound similar to what you’ve heard your partner tell you when they’re treating you badly?

Being able to recognize excuses for what they are — blames, minimizations, denials — can be a step toward realizing that abuse is never the fault of the person on the receiving end. Remember: abusive partners always have a choice about their words and actions.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence