Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pervasive problem in virtually all countries, cultures, classes, and income groups. It is a complex and multifaceted problem with individual solutions that are appropriate for different women in different socio-cultural contexts.

Both short and long-term measures must be considered. Short-term measures consist of assistance programs that protect the individual woman who has been or is being abused. They often focus on the critical period after a woman leaves her home, providing her with food, shelter, and guidance. This is the period when a woman is most at-risk from the perpetrator seeking retribution, or when she might return to the home out of a sense of hopelessness. Long-term measures seek to educate the public and empower the woman to re-establish her life without violence.

Definition of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Domestic violence is not limited to physical violence, but also includes verbal abuse, emotional abuse, and economic abuse. It can be progressive social isolation, deprivation, and intimidation. Remember that domestic violence is a power game; its purpose is for the abuser to control the victim in whatever form(s) it takes.

Almost all of the domestic violence cases have women as the victims and men as the perpetrators. For the purposes of this manual, male pronouns will be used to refer to the perpetrators and female pronouns will be used to refer to the victims of domestic violence.

​Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence includes many forms of abuse. These are:

Physical abuse - pushing, punching, choking, burning, shooting, dragging, restraining, locking in the house, throwing down stairs, kicking, poking, slapping, cutting, tripping, raping, holding down, hair pulling, squeezing, suffocating, kidnapping, etc.

Verbal abuse - name calling, yelling, making demeaning comments, nagging, cussing, threatening, belittling, constant phone calls, actively undermining her authority with children, telling her that she is a bad parent, telling her she can’t control her kids, setting her up so that he can humiliate her in public or in front of family and friends. This often occurs early in the relationship and continues throughout as it increase in severity. Victims often report that this type of abuse is more difficult to heal from than the physical injuries because they are such betrayals of trust and injurious to self esteem. Verbal abuse is often accompanied by Controlling Behavior.

Controlling behavior - Its purpose is to undermine the victim’s independence, make her feel bad about herself, and get her to take the responsibility for whatever is wrong. Often there is a long period of controlling behavior that begins with dating relationships and is initially interpreted as love by both abuser and victim. These behaviors include: verbal messages of star-crossed love: You’re the only one that understands me, I can’t live without you, I could never love anyone else, We will take care of each other’s every need. Examples of this would be: sexual jealousy that grows to extreme proportions very quickly, including obsessive focus on prior relationships or becoming extremely angry when prior relationships are even hinted about; accusing other men of looking at her or flirting with her; telling her what she should wear, who she can talk to, and that his opinion is always the right one; making scenes or being critical of her family and/or friends; doing things that sabotage her getting together with family / friends; doing things that sabotage her employment like refusing to get a car repaired so she has transportation, going back on agreements to provide child care and/or other parenting obligations.

Sexual abuse - making degrading sexual comments, forcing sex, assaulting breasts or genitals, forcing a partner to have sex with a third person, criticizing appearance, bragging about infidelity, forced cohabitation.

Emotional abuse - making threats of violence, forcing a woman to do degrading things, controlling her activities, frightening her, or using her children or grandchildren as leverage against her, killing a family pet, creating crisis, embarrassment, threatening to tell others about sexuality in the case of gays / lesbians.

Financial (economic) abuse - destroying property, prized possessions, relatives’ property; taking her money; denying her money; restricting access to household finances and withholding medical treatment; not allowing her to work or attend school; forcing her to work.

Neglect - omitting or failing to do what a reasonable person should do under the circumstances. It includes failure to provide food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene to a dependent person who needs such assistance; failure to take care of the needs of the dependent person; and the failure to protect the dependent person from health and safety hazards.