This information has been provided by the website of the National Domestic Violence Hotline. For more information or 24-hour hotline support, visit their website at or call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224.

Get Educated

Abuse is a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another. Battering is a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. Battering includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

General Statistics

  • On the average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends every day.1
  • 92% of women say that reducing domestic violence and sexual assault should be at the top of any formal efforts taken on behalf of women today.2
  • 1 out of 3 women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime.3
  • 1 in 5 female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner. Abused girls are significantly more likely to get involved in other risky behaviors. They are 4 to 6 times more likely to get pregnant and 8 to 9 times more likely to have tried to commit suicide.3
  • 1 in 3 teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been hit, punched, slapped, choked or physically hurt by his/her partner.4
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence during their pregnancy. 5
  • Violence against women costs companies $72.8 million annually due to lost productivity.6

1. Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003. 2. Progress & Perils: New Agenda for Women, Center for the Advancement of Women. June 2003. 3. Silverman, Jay G., Raj, Anita, and Clements, Karen. “Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality.” Pediatrics, August 2004. 4. Teenage Research Unlimited. Findings from study commissioned by Liz Claiborne Inc. to investigate the level of and attitudes towards dating abuse among American teenagers aged 13 to 18 [online] 2005 Feb [cited 2006 Mar 20]. Available from: 5. Gazmararian JA, Petersen R, Spitz AM, Goodwin MM, Saltzman LE, Marks JS. “Violence and reproductive health; current knowledge and future research directions.” Maternal and Child Health Journal 2000; 4(2):79-84. 6. Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. 2003. Center for disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Atlanta, GA

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 

You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
·         Calls you names, insults you or continually criticizes you.
·         Does not trust you and acts jealous or possessive.
·         Tries to isolate you from family or friends.
·         Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.
·         Does not want you to work.
·         Controls finances or refuses to share money.
·         Punishes you by withholding affection.
·         Expects you to ask permission.
·         Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
·         Humiliates you in any way.  

You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:
·         Damaged property when angry (thrown objects, punched walls, kicked doors, etc.).
·         Pushed, slapped, bitten, kicked or choked you.
·         Abandoned you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
·         Scared you by driving recklessly.
·         Used a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
·         Forced you to leave your home.
·         Trapped you in your home or kept you from leaving.
·         Prevented you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
·         Hurt your children.
·         Used physical force in sexual situations.  

You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:
·         Views women as objects and believes in rigid gender roles.
·         Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
·         Wants you to dress in a sexual way.
·         Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
·         Has ever forced or manipulated you into to having sex or performing sexual acts.
·         Held you down during sex.
·         Demanded sex when you were sick, tired or after beating you.
·         Hurt you with weapons or objects during sex.
·         Involved other people in sexual activities with you.
·         Ignored your feelings regarding sex.

How can I help a friend or family member who is being abused?

  •  Don’t be afraid to let him or her know that you are concerned for their safety. Help your friend or family member recognize the abuse. Tell him or her you see what is going on and that you want to help. Help them recognize that what is happening is not “normal” and that they deserve a healthy, non-violent relationship.
  • Acknowledge that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation. Let your friend or family member know that the abuse is not their fault. Reassure him or her that they are not alone and that there is help and support out there.
  • Be supportive. Listen to your friend or family member. Remember that it may be difficult for him or her to talk about the abuse. Let him or her know that you are available to help whenever they may need it. What they need most is someone who will believe and listen to them.
  • Be non-judgmental. Respect your friend or family member’s decisions. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. He or she may leave and return to the relationship many times. Do not criticize his or her decisions or try to guilt them. He or she will need your support even more during those times.
  • Encourage him or her to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.If he or she ends the relationship, continue to be supportive of them. Even though the relationship was abusive, your friend or family member may still feel sad and lonely once it is over. He or she will need time to mourn the loss of the relationship and will especially need your support at that time.
  • Help him or her to develop a safety plan.
  • Encourage him or her to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Find a local domestic violence agency that provides counseling or support groups. Offer to go with him or her to talk to family and friends. If he or she has to go to the police, court or a lawyer, offer to go along for moral support.
  • Remember that you cannot “rescue” him or her. Although it is difficult to see someone you care about get hurt, ultimately the person getting hurt has to be the one to decide that they want to do something about it. It’s important for you to support him or her and help them find a way to safety and peace.