Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of gender, ethnicity, age, education, religion, disability status, or sexual orientation. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or in a dating relationship.
Abuse can take many forms and often begins by the abuser exerting control over certain parts of their partner’s life; the abuse then progresses in frequency and intensity. If you are unsure if you or someone you know is in a violent or controlling relationship read the red flags or call the hotline.
Forms of abuse include:
- Physical (Any forceful or violent behavior),
- Emotional (Any abuse that attacks someone's self-esteem and definitions of who they are),
- Economic (The use of finances where financial equality is not the goal, rather it is the financial control of one person over another), and
- Psychological (Any abuse with the threat of violence. Psychological abuse involves fear, hurt, and degradation).
Many survivors and families realize after physical abuse begins that emotional, economic or psychological abuse were present during the early stages of the relationship.
Most people relate to domestic violence as the physical act of a male spouse or partner physically harming a wife or girlfriend. Actually, the power and control issues are prevalent in all types of relationships and can include female abuse of a partner. Teen Dating Violence, violence within gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender relationships and violence against people with disabilities or who are Deaf are often overlooked. Within the last several years, these issues have been well studied and better understood; therefore, the term Domestic Violence is often referred to as “Intimate Partner Violence.” All intimate partner violence is illegal and traumatic.
Teen Dating Violence
Teen relationships can be intense, emotional and sometimes, volatile. Many times parents are unaware or underestimate how intense the relationships have become and may not see signs that the relationship has moved beyond a healthy dating relationship. Teens may confuse jealousy, excessive contact or other controlling behaviors with love. Expect Respect is a SafePlace program that helps teens learn about and build healthy relationships.
Violence Against People with Disabilities
While all of us want or need support, many individuals with disabilities rely on others for food, medication, finances, personal care, or equipment that is necessary for independence and survival. People with disabilities may experience subtle forms of abuse such as denial of these basic needs by a partner or personal care provider. This can have devastating emotional, medical or even lethal consequences. These factors can also limit a person with disabilities ability to report abuse or ask for help. The SafePlace Disability Services Program works to educate about the unique dynamics of abuse and people with disabilities. SafePlace is committed to ensuring that our services are accessible and welcoming to people with disabilities.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Violence
Partner violence appears to occur in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) community with the same frequency and intensity as the heterosexual community. Unfortunately, LGBTQ partner violence remains underreported and largely unacknowledged in both the heterosexual and LGBTQ communities. A common threat an abusive partner will use to maintain control is the threat of “outing” the survivor. LGBTQ survivors may resist seeking help due to concerns they will not receive the same fair and unbiased assistance & services from systems as their heterosexual counterparts. The SafePlace Community Education Program's SAFER Campaign (Safety Awareness for Every Relationship) explains LGBTQ violence in depth and offers information and help.