Domestic abuse/violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship. Domestic violence can be physical or psychological, and it can affect anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation.
Domestic violence does not discriminate. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to people who are married, living together or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Why Do People Abuse?
Abuse is about power and control.
Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?
If you've never been in an abusive relationship, it's hard to understand why it’s so difficult to leave.
Victims of domestic violence in the LGBTQ communities often experience abuse in ways that are specific and unique to these communities.
Abuse and Immigrants
Everyone has the right to live life free of abuse. Immigrants in the US may have specific concerns about getting help.
Pregnancy and Abuse
Pregnancy and parenthood cause physical, emotional, financial and social changes, which can become even more challenging when your partner is abusive toward you.
Domestic violence and abuse stem from a desire to gain and maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abusive people believe they have the right to control and restrict their partners, and they may enjoy the feeling that exerting power gives them. They often believe that their own feelings and needs should be the priority in their relationships, so they use abusive tactics to dismantle equality and make their partners feel less valuable and deserving of respect in the relationship. No matter why it happens, abuse is not okay and it’s never justified.
Anyone can be abusive and anyone can be the victim of abuse. It happens regardless of gender, age, sexual orientation, race or economic background. If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You might also blame yourself for what is happening. But, no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner’s abusive actions. Being abusive is a choice. It’s a strategic behavior the abusive person uses to create their desired power dynamic. Regardless of the circumstances of the relationship or the pasts of either partner, no one ever deserves to be abused.
It's not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.
In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don't always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.
Domestic violence doesn't look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner.
Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:
Power and Control Wheel and other wheels developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP):