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Domestic Violence Back to Course Index





Incidents of domestic violence are skyrocketing due to the COVID pandemic.  Reports are suggesting there has been an increase of upwards of 180 percent from 2019 to 2020.  As stay-at-home orders went into effect in March, coupled with financial stress, unemployment, increased alcohol and drug use, along with increased anxiety and fear, we have a perfect storm.  In addition to the rates being up, funding to combat this issue is down, professionals who could assist are also quarantined or out of work, and family members cannot be there or help.  The protective measures put in place against the pandemic have brought another deadly danger.            

Abusers are unemployed, angry, and more abusive than ever, with more access to their victims than ever, and victims are more economically dependent than ever before.  Confinement fosters tension and strain, and stay-at-home orders made fleeing more difficult and thus more dangerous — making situations that are already bad … exponentially worse.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Even before COVID-19 existed, domestic violence was already one of the greatest human rights violations. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, this number is likely to grow with multiple impacts on the overall well-being of the family, the economy, and mental health.

Domestic violence can be physical or psychological, affecting anyone of any age, gender, race, or sexual orientation. It may include behaviors meant to scare, physically harm, or control a partner. And while every relationship is different, domestic violence typically involves an unequal power dynamic in which one partner tries to assert control over the other in various ways.

Domestic Violence is an inclusive term gathering into itself several other related terms such as domestic abuse, spousal abuse, battering, family violence, dating abuse, and Intimate Partner Abuse (IPA).  The definition of domestic violence is A pattern of abusive behaviors, including a wide range of physical, sexual, and psychological maltreatment used by one person in an intimate relationship against another to establish power unfairly or maintain that person’s misuse of power, control, and authority.  It is typically viewed as a pattern of antisocial behaviors that can take many forms, including physical aggression or assault (hitting, kicking, biting, shoving, restraining, slapping, throwing objects, battery), or threats thereof; sexual abuse; emotional abuse; controlling or domineering; intimidation; stalking; passive/covert abuse (e.g., neglect); and economic deprivation.  Domestic violence and abuse are not limited to obvious physical violence.  It can also mean endangerment, criminal coercion, kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, trespassing, harassment, and stalking.

The awareness, perception, definition, documentation, and treatment of domestic violence differ (slightly) from region to region in the United States.  For example, studies indicate that it is tolerated more in the South than in other regions. Also, the laws pertaining to domestic violence vary by country. While it is generally outlawed in the Western World, this is not the case in some Middle East countries. For instance, some Arab countries allow a man to discipline his wife and children physically.  The social acceptability of domestic violence also differs by country. While in most developed countries, domestic violence is considered unacceptable by most people, in many areas of the world, the views are different: according to recent studies, the percentage of adult women think that a husband is justified in hitting or beating his wife under certain circumstances is over 70% in Afghanistan, Jordan, and in the Central African Republic. Refusing to submit to a husband’s wishes is a common reason given for justification of violence.               

Domestic violence is largely thought to be male against female; however, the term includes any intimate relationship between husband against wife, wife against husband, brother against brother, uncle against nephew, grandchild against grandparent, and roommate against a roommate. The Free Encyclopedia states that domestic violence occurs when a family member, partner, or ex-partner attempts to physically or psychologically dominate another. The encyclopedia goes on to say that domestic violence often refers to violence between spouses or spousal abuse but can also include cohabitants and non-married intimate partners. Domestic violence occurs in all cultures; people of all races, ethnicities, religions, sexes, and classes can be perpetrators of domestic violence. Domestic violence is perpetrated by both men and women.

Domestic violence can be criminal, including physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological, and financial abuse is not generally criminal behavior in some legal systems, they are forms of abuse that can lead to criminal violence. There are a number of dimensions, including:

    • Mode: physical, psychological, sexual, and/or social.      
    • Frequency: on/off, occasional and chronic.
    • Severity: in terms of both psychological or physical harm and the need for treatment. Injuries may vary from mild to moderate to severe up to homicide.
    • Transitory or permanent

Often ignored, an important component of domestic violence is the realm of passive abuse, leading to violence. Passive abuse is covert, subtle, and veiled. This includes victimization, ambiguity, and neglect, spiritual and intellectual abuse.

Recent attention to domestic violence began in the women’s movement, particularly feminism and women’s rights, in the 1970s, as concern about wives being beaten by their husbands gained attention. Estimates are that only about a third of domestic violence cases are reported in the United States. That number has decreased over the last year, with fewer having any privacy to make a report, less access to doctors or other professionals who could notice and step in, and less access to shelters.                                                                                                                                       

According to the Centers for Disease Control, domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 30 million Americans. Popular emphasis has tended to be on women as victims of domestic violence. However, with the rise of the men’s movement and men’s rights, there is now advocacy for men victimized by women. In a special report on violence-related injuries by the U.S. Department of Justice, hospital emergency room visits pertaining to domestic violence indicated that physically abused men represent just under one-sixth of the total patients admitted to the hospital reporting domestic violence as the cause of their injuries. The report highlights that significantly more men than women did not disclose the identity of their attacker.  In significant numbers, males are the batterers, and females are the sufferers of domestic violence. However, that is not always the case. Fewer men report incidents.  In addition, researchers report that nearly half of men in same-sex couples have suffered some form of abuse at the hands of their partner.                                                                                                                                                                                           

There has been an increase in same-sex partner violence.  It is generally assumed that a physical altercation between two men or two women is a fight between equals; the power imbalance that often exists between a couple (of any sexual orientation) goes unaddressed. This, in turn, leads to same-sex domestic violence being reported as something other than domestic violence.


Domestic violence has been an increasing health concern in America for the past 25 years, and now more than ever. Communities have utilized education as a primary strategy to slow the violence and provide more protective mechanisms for women, men, and battered children.  Moving forward, we will need to look for new ways to reduce violence by addressing some of the factors contributing to the recent rise.  

Researchers estimate that approximately 90 percent of the violence is against females and that over 3 million experience some form of violence each year. Also, most have been attacked by a family member or someone they are acquainted with. However, domestic violence is a family problem that devastates every sector of society, overwhelming our courts and hospitals, spilling over into our streets, and filling our morgues. We must all be a part of the solution if we address this epidemic’s death toll. Every community is touched, yet the pervasive problem of domestic violence continues to be a problem that most individuals struggle with at the time of witnessing an event that seems as though it is pushing the envelope of just an argument.  When do you call the police?  When do you get involved?  Do you look away?

Domestic violence was one of the leading causes of injury to women at the start of the 21st century and continues today.  It results in more injuries than muggings, stranger rapes, and auto accidents combined.  Researchers estimate that some form of domestic violence occurs in approximately one-third of marriages in the United States and significantly impacts the health care cost as the victims spend nearly 125,000 days in hospitals, make 40,000 emergency room visits, and 70,000 trips to the doctor every year.   Also, about one-half of homeless women and their children are fleeing from domestic violence situations.  Globally, 275 million children witness firsthand violence at home.  Over 4 million children witness or are involved in acts of domestic violence every year in the US.  The risk of psychological and behavioral problems increases dramatically for these children, and they are more likely to attempt suicide and/or abuse alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs.  They start their early life with a significant handicap (due to no fault of their own) and frequently never completely overcome it.  In essence, it’s a heavy load on children who witness domestic violence or are victims.

The statistics remain upsetting even as we move through COVID and restrictions are listed.  Battered women in the US are 75% less likely to die if they DON’T leave their abuser.  Read that again; when they stay, they stay alive more than when they leave.  That doesn’t mean they should stay.  That means the system for helping survivors needs to be stronger.  Physical abuse survivors are in a Catch-22. Their home isn’t safe for them, but leaving ironically puts their lives at greater risk.

It is just not death, though, nine in ten female domestic abuse victims go through extreme emotional distress.  Looking at the US domestic violence statistics more closely, you learned that more than 47% of them deal with PTSD, 20% get depressed, and over 14% live with anxiety.


Researchers have found that over 40% of battering men came from male-dominated homes where the male was either violent or controlling or both. Typically, family members were afraid of the dominant male because of threats or frequent violent acts directed at his mate or the children.  Although men are more likely to be victims of violent crime overall, a recent U.S. Department of Justice study reports that “intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women.  Of those victimized by an intimate partner, approximately 90% are women, and 10% are men. In other words, women are considerably more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner.  Even when men are victimized, 10% are assaulted by another man. In contrast, only 2% of women who are victimized are assaulted by another woman.  With these statistics, it is important to note that women are more likely to report violent incidents.  Only about half of domestic violence incidents are reported to the police.  There is growing skepticism regarding the quality of police response, which is grounded in reality. For example, a recent study by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department concluded that only 17% of the victims were asked about a restraining order, and 83% were provided with no printed information with contact information or resources, which is a department standard.  This may or may not be indicative of service across the country, but it is an alarming discovery. As noted previously, Domestic abuse occurs when one person in a relationship or marriage tries to dominate and/or control the other person. The abuser may use fear, guilt, shame, or intimidation to gain an advantage over the victim.  He or she may threaten the victim or their family (including their children).  When abuse turns violent (physical attacks), it is called domestic violence. Victims of domestic abuse/violence may be men or women, although women are more commonly victimized.  Domestic abuse/violence occurs among heterosexual couples as well as in same-sex relationships. Domestic abuse/violence does not discriminate except for gender (women are predominately the victims).  Also, it occurs across all ages, ethnic backgrounds, and social/economic levels.

Heterosexual males (in relationships) are the most frequent domestic violence offenders.  However, researchers have found that women are equally likely to hit or physically harm a partner.  Also, an average man is larger and more capable of defending himself against physical assaults; consequently, they do not react similarly to violence directed at them.  It is equally wrong regardless of who does the abuse, as no one should have to tolerate being abused by another person. In any case, the female is more likely to sustain a serious injury than the male counterpart.  Also, a man’s reaction to a woman’s violence is usually less emotional than a woman’s reaction to a man’s violent acts. The man’s reaction is usually categorized in the annoyance, anger, and self-righteousness categories, whereas the reaction for women is more traumatic, often involving varying amounts of fear or terror. When a 200-lb man hits a 120-lb woman, the impact will be greater for her than if the roles were reversed due to physical size, training, and mindset.  If either the man or woman hits a young child, the results can be devastating.  We will look at how gender roles and sexual identity has been affected by domestic violence later in the course.






Despite a common myth, domestic violence is not due to the abusers losing control over their emotions and behavior. Researchers have concluded that violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser to control the victim.  Some of the more obvious observations to support this conclusion are:


    • The perpetrator does not batter other individuals, the supervisors who treat him unfairly, or the restaurant server who spills food; he waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
    • The perpetrator can usually stop when the police arrive at the scene.  It’s amazing how quickly he can regain his composure and look calm, cool, and collected, and she is the one who may look hysterical.  If he were really “out of control,” he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
    • The incident generally escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks don’t show. An out-of-control perpetrator could not direct or limit where he kicks or punches the victim.

Many myths surrounding domestic violence can make it difficult to recognize and address. Domestic violence does not only involve physical violence.  It can take many forms, including emotional, verbal, sexual, and financial abuse. Another myth is that domestic violence only occurs in certain types of relationships or communities when it can affect anyone regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or socioeconomic status. Some may also believe that victims of domestic violence are weak or at fault for the abuse when in reality, the responsibility lies solely with the abuser. Additionally, there may be myths about the effectiveness of restraining orders or the ability of abusers to change their behavior. These myths can perpetuate harmful attitudes and beliefs and may discourage victims from seeking help or speaking out. It is important to challenge these myths and promote accurate information about domestic violence in order to support victims better and prevent future abuse.


In most states, only the physical acts of domestic violence are actionable under the law. This is generally interpreted as the use of physical force or threats to control or intimidate a victim. Certainly, dysfunctional people have many relationships in which one or both people are emotionally abusive to the other. But if there’s no battering (threat of violence or overwhelming control of that person’s life), then we’re simply talking about a bad relationship in which either party can choose to remove themselves, and not one in which a person feels threatened by serious harm if they leave. Another legal issue to consider is the mandatory arrest policies in which police are required to arrest if there is probable cause that a person has committed domestic violence. The passage of these laws was advocated by domestic violence experts to address law enforcement’s inadequate response to domestic violence victims. When officers arrive at the domestic violence crime scene, they often cite evidence that both partners have engaged in some aggressive behavior and arrest both. This “dual arrest” strategy fails to consider which two people are primarily responsible for the aggression and which is responding out of self-defense. This can have devastating effects, particularly if children are involved in the relationship. To counteract this problem, some departmental or statewide policies now provide guidelines for an officer to determine the primary aggressor in a violent incident. For example, the California Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training publish a guidebook for officers responding to domestic violence, discouraging “dual arrests” and outlining several factors to consider when determining who is the primary aggressor in a domestic violence situation. The primary aggressor is defined as “the person determined to be the most significant, rather than the first, aggressor.” Factors to consider include the history of domestic violence between the people involved, each person’s threats and fear level, and whether either person acted in self-defense. These are appropriate considerations when determining the primary aggressor and which of the two parties should be arrested.

Restraining orders can be an effective tool in helping to protect victims of domestic violence. A restraining order, also known as a protection order, is a legal document that prohibits an abuser from contacting or being in close proximity to the victim. Violating a restraining order can result in legal consequences, including arrest and potential incarceration.

Getting a restraining order against an abusive partner involves a legal process that can vary depending on the laws and procedures in your client’s jurisdiction. Generally, the first step is for them to contact their local courthouse or a domestic violence advocate to obtain information on the specific steps they need to take. They may be required to file a petition or application for a restraining order, typically involving details about the abusive behavior, such as specific incidents and any injuries sustained. They may also be required to appear in court to testify about the abuse. In some cases, they may be able to obtain a temporary restraining order that goes into effect immediately while they wait for a hearing on a permanent restraining order. It is important to remember that the legal process for obtaining a restraining order can be complex and stressful.  Additionally, it is important to prioritize their safety throughout the process, which may involve developing a safety plan and seeking the support of trusted friends or family members.

Research suggests that restraining orders can be effective in reducing the risk of further violence. One study found that victims who obtained a restraining order experienced significantly fewer violent incidents than those who did not. Restraining orders can also provide a sense of safety and control for victims, which can help to reduce anxiety and fear.

However, it is important to note that a restraining order does not guarantee safety and may not always be effective in preventing further abuse. Some abusers may continue to violate the restraining order or escalate their abusive behavior despite its issuance. Additionally, victims may face retaliation or further abuse from their abuser, which can create additional safety risks.







Domestic violence often starts gradually and may be difficult to recognize, with the abuser using tactics such as isolation, manipulation, and intimidation to control their partner. Over time, the abuse can escalate, becoming more frequent and severe, and may involve physical violence, sexual assault, and even homicide.  Recognizing what is considered domestic violence and seeking support to break the cycle and ensure safety for those experiencing abuse is important.

One of the challenges in addressing domestic violence is that some individuals may not recognize it as abuse, instead seeing it as a normal or acceptable part of their relationship. This may be due to cultural or societal beliefs that condone or even promote abusive behavior, or it may be a result of the abuser’s manipulation and gaslighting tactics, which can cause the victim to doubt their own experiences and perceptions. In some cases, victims may also minimize or excuse their partner’s abusive behavior or may fear the consequences of speaking out. This normalization of abusive behavior can be particularly dangerous, as it can allow the abuse to continue and even escalate over time. It is important to educate individuals on the signs and impacts of domestic violence and provide support and resources for those experiencing abuse. Raising awareness and challenging harmful beliefs and attitudes can help create a zero-tolerance culture for domestic violence and promote healthy, respectful relationships.

Acts of domestic violence generally fall into one or more of the following categories:        

  • Physical battering includes bodily attacks or aggressive behavior. Most people think of this type of behavior when they hear the term domestic violence. Physical violence ranges from pushing or shoving to bruising (while restraining), punching, kicking, and biting to serious injury, including death. Most experts agree that physical violence escalates with time without some type of intervention.  It starts with a relatively minor incident, excused as trivial such as pushing someone or throwing keys, and then escalates over time into more frequent and serious attacks.
  • Psychological or emotional abuse is the deliberate undermining of someone’s sense of safety and well-being.  This type of abuse includes repeated criticisms, humiliation, name-calling, extreme jealousy, harassment, threats of suicide, and isolation from friends and family.  Isolation undermines the support system and reduces the negative feedback about the relationship someone might receive from family and friends.
  • Sexual violence is unwanted or coerced sexual contact of any kind.  Married or not, a person has the right to say no.
  • Intimidation is defined in this context as the act of deterring or making someone fearful by threats of violence to manipulate or control behavior.  The abuser inhibits the victim’s behavior by threatening to hurt or kill them or their friends and family, including blackmail and threats to abduct children.  This category often includes physical violence against property, such as breaking into an individual’s home and wrecking it or displaying weapons to imply a threat.
  • Parallel violence is when an abuser acts against another person the intended victim cares about or a pet to control the partner.
  • Economic abuse often controls a victim’s ability to leave a relationship.  It involves restricting access to money or other financial resources.  This type of abuse includes keeping a partner’s income or preventing them from earning income.

Some of the psychological/personality characteristics common in abusers (in addition to their propensity to use physical violence) are:

  • Dominance or type A personality: Most perpetrators have a domineering personality with a strong need to be in charge of those around them. They like to tell people what to do and when to do it and for their orders to be followed.  They tend to direct most family activities.
  • Humiliation tendencies: A perpetrator will do almost anything to embarrass a victim.  His objective is to make the victim feel bad or feel defective in some manner. The abuser’s objective is to make the victim believe they are worthless and of no value to anyone else.  Also, the victim’s self-esteem is eroded through insults, name-calling, shaming, and put-downs.
  • Isolationism: This trait increases the victim’s dependence on the perpetrator. The perpetrator will limit transportation, money, and other items to isolate a victim from family and friends.  In severe cases, this may extend to work and school activities.
  • Threats: Threats are used to keep victims from leaving or scare them into dropping charges. The threats are generally related to the physical realm and may include a threat to harm children, other family members, or pets. He may also threaten to harm himself.
  • Intimidation: A perpetrator may use threatening looks or gestures, damage personal property, drive-bys, injure your pets, or display guns to scare a victim into submission. The message is that there will be violent consequences if you don’t obey.
  • Denial and blame: Perpetrators blame their violent behavior on a bad childhood, trouble at work, bad neighborhood, a bad day, family, or anything else that will shift the responsibility for the abuse to someone or something else. The perpetrator will also minimize his role or deny that it occurred. He will commonly shift the responsibility for his violence onto you as if somehow it’s your fault.


Domestic violence is a serious issue that affects many individuals, regardless of their gender or background. The symptoms of domestic violence can vary depending on the severity of the abuse and the individual’s physical and emotional response. Physical symptoms may include bruises, cuts, broken bones, and other injuries, while emotional symptoms can include anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and feelings of helplessness. Victims of domestic violence may also experience changes in behavior, such as withdrawal from social activities or changes in sleeping and eating habits. It is important to note that domestic violence can also include verbal and emotional abuse, which may not leave visible physical marks but can still cause significant harm. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, it is crucial to seek help and support to ensure their safety and well-being.


Emotional Abuse

       Put-downs (erodes victims’ self-esteem)

       Name Calling/personal insults

       Playing the psycho game (make someone think they are going crazy)

       Humiliation (public reprimand; exploit/exaggerate any mistake in public)

       Causing guilt (false accusations)


Economic Abuse

       Limit job opportunities (outside the home)

       Denying a person money or access to money

       Limit how much a person can spend (allowance)

       Taking the other person’s money


Coercion and Threats

       Making or carrying out threats to do something to hurt the other person.

       Threatening to leave the other person, commit suicide, or report the other person to law enforcement

       Making the other person do illegal things



       Making the other person afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions

       Smashing things

       Abusing pets

       Displaying weapons


Using Children

       Making the other person feel guilty about the children

       Using visitation to harass the other person

       Threatening to take the children away


Abusing Privileges

       Treating the other person like a slave

       Making all the decisions  


 Many theories have been developed to explain ongoing violence in intimate relationships.  Some have named family dysfunction, inadequate communication skills, stress, chemical dependency, and financial distress as theories.  These problems may be associated with domestic violence, but they are not the cause. 

Removing the factors that perpetuate anger will not end violence.  Domestic violence is about power and control.  Power and control over one or a select few.  Power and control is the primary factor in this kind of conduct.  The violence begins and continues because it is an effective method for gaining and keeping control over another person, frequently with few negative consequences.

Much can be predicted about the pattern that exists within the abusive relationship.  Batterers typically externalize blame, explaining their violence is due to stress, the partner’s behavior, alcohol, etc.  Poor self-esteem, inadequate, and powerless in the world is frequent attributes of those who abuse.  They take these feelings of inadequacy and lack of power over the outside world out on those that are on the inside and intimate.  Their chief source of identity and ego gratification often depends on their ability to control their partner.

Often blame is placed on those who stay in abusive relationships.  On the surface, the situation seems obvious.  However, the barriers to leaving an abusive relationship are plentiful.  Survivors of abuse typically experience shame, guilt, embarrassment, and isolation. How many men want to admit they are physically abused?  How many would make jokes about a man explaining he was forced to have unwanted sex?  Homelessness in women is a leading outcome of leaving violent marriages.  The threat of losing children is a terrifying nightmare.  At the very least, leaving means a loss of income, the difficulties associated with single parenting, and frequent harassment at work.  Friends and family will not always believe the victim. 

There is also the very real emotional pull that comes from the fact that most violent relationships are not violent at all times.  The human spirit is full of hope.  Abusers can be every bit as loving as they can be cruel.  One of the most important points to remember is that leaving is dangerous. 

Violent relationships frequently develop into cycles of violence.  The cycle can be described as:


The cycle begins with Phase One:  Escalating or Tension Building.  In this phase, the batterer is in a low stage of anger.  They degrade, humiliate, and verbally harass the victim.  They are easily irritated and agitated.  Often a husband will have a growing fear that his wife will leave, and he has increased surveillance of her behavior and a higher degree of jealousy.  There is a definite increase in stress and anxiety.  The victim does everything they can to keep the peace. They often place blame on outside stressors. 

Characteristics/interactions of this phase include:


    • The abuser begins to get irritable and begins verbal attacks; generally is in a continuous hostile/angry mood
    • Abuse may begin; may initially be minor; may include threats to the victim, other family members, friends, and others; may include a threat to commit harm to self)
    • There is generally a breakdown of effective communication, and loss of trust may become protective of joint property and joint financial resources.
    • They may attempt to limit victims’ outside contact with family and friends
    • The victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
    • The victim feels they are walking on eggshells
    • Tension increases to the critical/explosive stage

The second is Phase Two:  Acute battering.  In this phase, there is a violent discharge of tension or rage.  The batterer appears to have impaired awareness and lacks control.  Often batterers in treatment say, “She knew just what to do to push my buttons; she did it on purpose.”  This can be explained by the victim in this phase as they often feel passive acceptance and believe that trying to escape is futile.  Sometimes, they know the next phase will come if they get through the incident.  The victim is isolated, depressed, and often emotionally collapses after the violence.   The characteristics/interactions of this phase include:


    • Abuser physically and emotionally attacks victim; may attack other family members or friends; may inflict physical and/or emotional harm to the victim
    • The abuser may appear to lose awareness of their surroundings and loss of control of their actions (researchers have concluded that most abusers know what they are doing at all times)
    • Alcohol and or other drugs may increase the risk of severe injury
    • The abuser will generally isolate the victim and limit their communication
    • The abuser may restrain the victim
    • The abuser may leave the scene with children (the victim is emotionally stressed by the absence of children and fear that they may be harmed)
    • Police are generally involved; parties are generally separated until they regain their composure and request reconciliation.
    • Restraining/protective court orders may be required

The third is Phase Three:  The Honeymoon Phase.  The batterer loves and asks for forgiveness.  They promise “never again.”  They are dependent on the victim’s acceptance and validation.  The victim experiences guilt and responsibility for the batterer.  They hope this is the last time until the behaviors begin again in phase one.  The characteristics/interactions of this phase include:

    • The abuser acts as if the incident never happened
    • The abuser may apologize and be very remorseful (generally temporary); promise that it will never happen again; attempt to explain away the incident.
    • The abuser may shower the victim with gifts and affection
    • The victim may hope that the abuse is over

The cycle can happen several times in an abusive relationship.  Each stage lasts a different amount of time in each relationship.  The cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.  It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle.






Abusive individuals can exhibit a wide range of complex and varied characteristics. One of the most common traits of abusive individuals is a need for control, which can manifest in different ways, such as being overly jealous or possessive, isolating their partner from friends and family, and monitoring their partner’s every move. Abusive individuals may also be manipulative, often using guilt or fear to control their partner’s behavior. They may display a lack of empathy and understanding for their partner’s feelings and needs and may even blame their partner for their abusive behavior. Additionally, abusive individuals may have a history of substance abuse or other destructive behaviors and may struggle with anger management issues. It is important to note that not all abusive individuals exhibit the same characteristics and that abusive behavior can occur in any relationship regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

    • Male
    • Dependent, inadequate personalities
    • Violent family of origin
    • History of violence
    • Abusive to alcohol or other drugs
    • Easily frustrated
    • Poor control of impulses
    • Rigid beliefs
    • Mood swings







Abuse occurs in all socioeconomic groups, all genders, religions, races, educational backgrounds, ages, and sexual orientations. In a national survey of over 6,000 American families, 50% of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children

The following factors are areas of increased risk for abuse:

    •  Females between the ages of 19 to 29
    •  Pregnancy
    •  Individuals who come from abusive homes or have had previously abusive relationships
    •  Women who are single and under 35 are more likely to report the abuse

One of the most significant risk factors is a history of abuse, whether experienced as a victim or witnessed as a child. Substance abuse can also increase the risk of abusive behavior, as individuals under the influence of drugs or alcohol may have impaired judgment and be more likely to act impulsively. Other risk factors include a lack of social support, financial stress, and mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety. Additionally, cultural factors and social norms that support or condone abusive behavior can also contribute to its occurrence. It is important to note that while these risk factors can increase the likelihood of abusive behavior, they do not necessarily mean that an individual will become abusive. It is important to address and intervene in these risk factors to prevent and reduce the occurrence of abusive behavior.


The most crucial reason to stay is leaving is dangerous.  The most dangerous time in a violent relationship is when the victim is attempting to end the relationship.  Men and women alike are frequently embarrassed to admit they have been physically abused.  Often leaving means continued and escalated harassment.  In an attempt to control the individual leaving, threats are frequently made concerning finances and child custody.

There is also a mixed emotion for love and hope, along with manipulation, intimidation, and fear.  Often the abusers will threaten to hurt themselves or other loved ones if the victim does not stay.

Support systems often become weaker once the threat is increased and pointed at them.  A friend who offers a friend a safe place to stay can become threatened and scared.  Clergy and secular counselors are often trained to see only the goal of saving the marriage.  Financial institutes do not want to get involved in family issues.







Less than 10% of primary care physicians screen for domestic violence routinely during regular office visits.  In emergency rooms, less than 3% of female patients disclosed or were screened for domestic violence by a nurse or physician, yet an estimated 17% to 27% of the injuries that bring

women to the emergency room were caused by their partner. Using protocols to identify and treat those in the population that is at increased risk of domestic violence and any others who meet certain criteria increases the identification rate to 30%.  The National Institute of Justice and the Centers for Disease Control indicated that women make almost 700,000 healthcare visits due to injuries resulting from physical assault, most of which are inflicted by intimate partners.  All women and men who present with injury and implausible explanations should be evaluated with abuse in mind.

Injuries are not the only symptom of domestic violence.  Many chronic healthcare problems, such as alcoholism and other substance abuse issues, depression, and other mental health problems, are also caused by this type of violence. 

According to The Family Violence Prevention Fund, all females over the age of 14 should be asked questions about domestic violence.  Their publication has a set of clinical guidelines for routine screening for domestic violence in healthcare settings.  They recommend these guidelines be utilized in all primary care, urgent care, obstetrics/gynecology, family planning, mental health, and residential settings.  Screening should be a part of all initial intake forms, including prenatal visits.  The number one most prevalent time in a woman’s life to be battered is during pregnancy.

The following is a checklist that could be utilized as a tool for healthcare providers:


Does your partner:

___Put you down, embarrass, or make fun of you in front of others?


___Make fun of your goals or discourage you?


___ Intimidate or attempt to control you?


___ Tell you that you are nothing without them?


___Attempt to make all of the decisions?


___Treat you rough-grab, push, pinch, shove, or hit you?


___make you feel bad about yourself?


___Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where

       you said you would be?


___Blame you for how they feel or act?


___Blame alcohol or other drugs for how they act?


___Pressure you sexually?


___Are you ever afraid of them?


___Are you afraid they will hurt themselves or someone else if you leave the  



___Do you find yourself attempting not to make them angry at all costs?


To ensure the effectiveness of the screening, healthcare providers should be educated about the dynamics of domestic violence, the safety and autonomy of abused patients, and the cultural aspects of this type of violence.  These screeners should be trained to investigate abuse and intervene with abuse victims.  This screening should be conducted in a private setting and in person under the best circumstances.  A non-judgmental approach is essential.

As a medical professional, you must know how to build rapport and ask the appropriate questions. 

Questions can be in the form of general framing questions such as:

    • Violence against women is becoming such a prevalent problem in our society that I have begun including it in all my assessments.  Can you tell me about your experiences?
    • I’m concerned about how your injuries were caused.  Are you comfortable telling me how they occurred?


Questions can be direct such as: 

    • Does your partner threaten, attempt to control, push, or hit you?
    • Are you or have you ever been concerned for your safety?

If, as a medical professional, you are concerned for a patient who is not currently admitting to abuse or is not ready to leave the relationship, you can refer them to counseling and or give them telephone numbers to shelters and protective agencies.  Sometimes discussing the safety of children and pets motivates them to get the help they need.




As mentioned earlier, frequently, same-sex relationships experience violence just as heterosexual relationships; however, even with the increased recognition of same-sex relationships, same-sex domestic violence remains vastly unacknowledged and unreported.                                                                     

Along with stress factors connected with domestic abuse in both same-sex and heterosexual couples — money, unemployment, and drug abuse, there is also a strong association between internalized homophobia and abuse in male couples.  The stress of struggling with his sexual identity might cause a gay man to inflict physical or emotional abuse on a partner.  Same-sex domestic violence is essentially manifested in the same manner as domestic violence in heterosexual couples:

    • Physical violence
    • Psychological abuse Sexual abuse
    • The withholding of economic resources
    • The destruction of property
    • But, unlike heterosexual relationships, a same-sex abuser can also use the threat of “outing” their partner to their family, friends, and employer as a weapon against them.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 43.8% of lesbian and 61.1% of bisexual women have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime, as opposed to 35% of heterosexual women.

26% of gay men and 37.3% of bisexual men have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime compared to 29% of heterosexual men.

In a study of male same-sex relationships, only 26% of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence.  Fewer than 5% of LGBTQ+ survivors of intimate partner violence report seeking orders of protection.  

Transgender victims are more likely to experience intimate partner violence in public than those who do not identify as transgender.

Bisexual victims are more likely to experience sexual violence than people who do not identify as bisexual.

LGBTQ+ Black/African American victims are more likely to experience physical intimate partner violence than those who do not identify as Black/African American.

LGBTQ+ white victims are more likely to experience sexual violence than those who do not identify as white.

LGBTQ+ victims on public assistance are likelier to experience intimate partner violence than those not.

The LGBTQ+ community also has other methods of emotional abuse and intimidation to consider.  “Outing” or threatening to reveal one partner’s sexual orientation/gender identity may be used as a tool of abuse in violent relationships. It may also be a barrier that reduces the likelihood of help-seeking for the abuse.

Prior experiences of physical or psychological trauma, such as bullying and hate crime, which are common among LGBTQ individuals, may make LGBTQ+ victims of domestic violence less likely to seek help.  This can seriously impact self-esteem and reach out with the belief that someone will take it seriously.

Transgender victims of intimate partner violence are more likely to experience threats and intimidation, harassment, and police violence within intimate partner violence than gay or lesbian individuals.

Specific forms of abuse occur within relationships where one partner is transgender, including:

 Using offensive pronouns such as “it” to refer to the transgender partner
 Ridiculing the transgender partner’s body and/or appearance
 Telling the transgender partner that he or she is not a real man or woman
 Ridiculing the transgender partner’s identity as “bisexual,” “trans,” “femme,” “butch,” “genderqueer,” etc.

Several barriers exist to addressing LGBTQ+ intimate partner violence:

 Societal beliefs that domestic violence does not occur in LGBTQ+ relationships
 Anti-LGBTQ+ bias (homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, etc.)
 Lack of appropriate training regarding LGBTQ+ domestic violence for service providers
 A fear that airing the problems among the LGBT+ population will take away from progress toward equality or fuel anti-LGBTQ+ bias
 Domestic violence shelters are typically female-only; therefore, transgender individuals may not be allowed entrance due to their gender/genital/legal status

While abuse among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer or questioning “plus” (LGBTQ+) people occurs at the same rates and in similar ways as their heterosexual peers, LGBTQ+ people may face forms of abuse or barriers to accessing support specifically based on prejudices against their gender expression or sexuality.  They may fear isolation or ostracization from their family or community stemming from prejudice, shame, or embarrassment around their identity and fear of not receiving services.  

Social Service and First Responders should be aware of potential obstacles to reporting and unique to this population.  For an LGBTQ+ person seeking support and services, the possibility of being confronted with heterosexism and multiple service barriers can be a deterrent.  Domestic Violence looks different to different people and in different relationships.  Violence and emotional abuse are not ok, regardless of the perpetrator or victim’s identified gender.  Prevention remains the primary goal; however, how professionals respond can have a huge impact.


Teen relationships follow the same pattern and have the same undercurrent, as do the relationships of adults.  Young individuals are often struggling with self-esteem, gender roles, and sexual activities they are comfortable with and those they are not.  Even in the best of relationships, this is a time when individuals do not have assurance in who they are and what they want or need.  Self-esteem can often easily be manipulated; isolation from family is often already occurring as the teen develops independence.  When a boyfriend displays extreme possessiveness, it is taken as he must love and care about me.

Domestic violence in teen relationships is frequently termed Teen Dating Violence (TDV) and/or dating violence. 

Dating violence can take place in person, online, or through technology. It is a type of intimate partner violence that can include physical violence, sexual violence, psychological aggression, and stalking, just like adult instances.  

Teen dating violence can profoundly impact well-being, self-esteem, health, and opportunity. Unhealthy relationships can start early and last a lifetime.  Social service professionals must be careful to recognize embarrassment and ulterior rewards.  It can seem cool to have someone “love” or be all consumed by you, like in the movies.  Young adults can also be naive that someone that cares about them would or could hurt them.  They may put up with negative behavior to keep a first significant other.  Teens often think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a “normal” part of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. Many teens do not report unhealthy behaviors because they are afraid to tell family and friends.

Data from CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey and the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey indicate that:

  • Nearly 1 in 11 female and approximately 1 in 14 male high school students report having experienced physical dating violence in the last year.
  • About 1 in 8 female and 1 in 26 male high school students report having experienced sexual dating violence in the last year.
  • 26% of women and 15% of men who were victims of contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their life first experienced these or other forms of violence by that partner before age 18.

Some teens are at greater risk than others.  Sexual minority groups are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence, and some racial/ethnic minority groups are disproportionately affected by many types of violence.

The elderly represent a population that often does not have a voice to defend themselves.  Special consideration should be given to screening for abuse in this population.

Understanding cultural issues are paramount in investigating domestic violence.  Understanding how and why domestic violence occurs is impossible without considering the varying religious and cultural beliefs and practices.  In many countries, society is permissive to violence.  Popular songs, movies, nightly news, and literature normalize violence as a common, almost everyday experience.

The patriarchal structure of the family is traditional in many countries, with the husband’s authority unquestioned.  Often in many cultures, there is a major emphasis on compliance and not speaking out.  Laws in many cultures are designed to protect the male head of the household’s right to make decisions about the family.  A female who stands up to her husband or protests a beating causes the family, and herself, shame and embarrassment. 

A few fundamental religions and cults promote keeping women and children in line with advice from the pulpit to beat unruly wives and children. 

Because America is a melting pot of cultures, it is necessary to keep these statistics and cultural aspects in mind.  It is important to recognize that these situations are standards not considered wrong by families of these cultures.  If you question a female from that culture, the answer will be no if someone has done something out of line.  They will often not report violence as they do not see it as a reportable concern.

To intervene successfully in all these cultures, it will be necessary to change both men’s and women’s socialization patterns and establish a new definition of authority.


 Every American suffers from the effects of domestic violence.  Although women are who you predominately think of when discussing domestic violence, men are also frequent victims.  Conservative estimates mean that between 3.3 and 4.3 million children witness domestic violence yearly, with devastating results.  Pets are

also frequently abused as part of the pattern.

An estimated three to five billion dollars yearly are lost due to this problem.  Lost wages, lower productivity, sick day usage, and medical and legal expenses combine to drain the national economy. 

When discussing domestic violence, the issue of homelessness is brought to the surface.  Statistics indicate that domestic violence affects approximately 50% of homeless women and children.  For women alone, estimates range from 17 to 24%. 



Susan, a social worker in a metropolitan area, is called into a middle school to meet with Amara, a Muslim 14-year-old girl.  A teacher had some concerns over how withdrawn Amara had been lately.  Her grades had not decreased.  She had gotten higher marks over the last quarter, but Amara wasn’t as outgoing as she had been.  She seemed depressed and displayed quite a bit of anxiety.  When Ms. Harmon, her teacher, asked Amara if everything was ok, she replied, “Yes.”.  She didn’t offer anything else.  Amara had been wearing long sleeves when the weather had gotten much warmer, and she was losing weight.  These signs all concerned the teacher.  Ms. Harmon had attempted to reach out to Amara’s parents.  They both said everything was fine.  When Amara came in without lunch for the second day in a row and told her teacher it was just punishment for not focusing on studying, she made a call.  

When Susan asked Amara about how things were at home, Amara responded openly and positively.  “I have a close family.  My grandparents live with us, and my and brother get along and help with the responsibilities.  I have a strict dad, but he loves us and cares deeply about how we are raised.  He sees what all my friends do and won’t stand for those kinds of things.  He wants to make an impression on me about focusing.  It is all for my good.  He knows I won’t make the same mistakes if I am hungry again.  It is fine.  It isn’t like he just abuses us because it is fun.  It hurts him too to have to correct my mom and me.”  When Amara’s parents arrived, her father was livid.  He was very upset that someone in social services was involved in how he raised his family.  He was very stern with Susan but remained in control.  He quickly stated, “I am the head of my household.  My daughter is being raised properly.  She will not suggest otherwise.  I must correct her at times to ensure she is safe and well-off, and it is of no concern to yours.  We are done here.”  

Susan quickly addressed Amara’s father.  “I am here to ensure your daughter’s safety and well-being.  I am talking with her, and I am not done.  I have a duty and a responsibility.  I will speak to you when we are done.  Please have a seat, and I will call you shortly.”  Amara’s expression turned to anger.  Susan, expected possibly fear, but she was not expecting Amara to be angry.  Amara said, “I don’t want to talk any longer.  I told you everything was ok.  There is nothing more to talk about.  You are just causing trouble because you don’t understand our culture.  Just leave me alone.”  Her father gave her a stern look, and she fell silent.  Amara’s mother took her by the arm and led her to a bench toward the door.   Amara’s father said, “My daughter has repeatedly told you she was fine.  We may have different standards for acceptable behavior, but you should not judge what you don’t understand.  I will not justify how I manage my family to you.  We do not want to talk to you.  We do not want you involved.”


What might be different about Amara’s Muslim culture that Susan should have been aware of before handling this meeting this way? 

The Muslim family system is generally more authoritarian than the standard structure we are used to in America.  This certainly does not always mean abusive, but Susan needs to recognize that the structure will be patriarchal, and what she might see as abusive, the women in the family may not.  This will affect questions such as, “is everything ok at home?”  Everything might seem ok to the participants, but may not be ok.  Some things might not seem ok to Susan but be ok for the family.  She must ask more open-ended questions to determine if harm is being done.  “Are you ok?” is subjective.  Susan might have handled Dad’s behavior with a lighter touch.  Respect can go a long way.  She does have a job to do, but how she treats everyone will determine how helpful they are.  Amara found Susan’s behavior disrespectful.  


Anna and Nathan met at high school. However, neither completed their senior year. During their five-year relationship, they lived together for periods, on and off, and had a child who was aged two when they separated. Anna has experienced physical and mental health problems since early adolescence, which, as an adult, have prevented her from gaining employment. She is on a disability pension and, as the child’s primary carer, receives parenting and public housing support. When younger, Anna took party drugs to cope with her anxiety and depression but feels now that she has grown out of the habit. Nathan’s drug-taking, dealing, and associated criminal activity have dominated his life for many years and resulted in a serious conviction for which he served a sentence of probation on one occasion. Anna describes Nathan as extremely aggressive—and more so when taking drugs or alcohol—and possibly having a mental illness, though she believes undiagnosed. The child has been diagnosed with various behavioral disorders, which are now managed with medication and ongoing medical treatment. Family Court parenting orders grant Anna residence and allow Nathan weekly contact; however, Nathan rarely sees or has contact with the child.

From early on in the relationship, Nathan would regularly (and wrongly) accuse Anna of cheating on him. He would often check on where she was and who she was spending time with and constantly monitored her money while refusing to contribute to rent and other joint expenses. On a few occasions, when Nathan got drunk and felt that Anna was giving him attitude, he would put his hands around her throat, strangling her in front of others. Anna became pregnant when Nathan was on probation, and child protection was alerted to Nathan’s physical and emotional violence towards her. On a visit during her pregnancy, a child protection officer told her the child would be taken away from her if she stayed with Nathan. Anna wasn’t overly concerned because she had good family support around her and was attending parenting and prenatal classes and getting set up at home.

Nathan’s physical violence escalated during and after the pregnancy. Nathan wielded a knife at Anna, causing her to barricade herself in a locked room. While the baby slept, he strangled and beat her so badly that she blacked out and, with help from a family member, was taken by ambulance to the hospital and treated for multiple fractures and facial and scalp wounds. Two months later, he yanked her arm forcefully, resulting in a serious elbow injury and a lengthy recovery. Nathan was often drunk or stoned during these violent rampages and would always flee the scene leaving Anna to fend for herself. On one occasion, Nathan assaulted Anna while they were walking with their child to the corner grocery store. He took off with the child, leaving Anna with severe cuts, bruising, and torn clothes on the street. Police were called, and as a result, she successfully got a two-year protection order with the child named as a protected party.

The order was due to expire in the coming months. Anna has spoken to a local domestic violence support worker who is encouraging her to seek an additional order. Anna reports feeling both frustrated and terrified because, despite having these orders and being on the police high-alert list, Nathan has repeatedly and flagrantly breached the orders and continues to do so regularly by stalking Anna and the child, calling and letting her know where she has been and with whom, and threatening physical harm and even death. Nathan has access to guns and knives and on one occasion, when he was facing the possibility of a jail term for another offense, threatened to shoot Anna’s mother and Anna herself if Anna tried to disappear with the child. Anna has returned to the police repeatedly to make statements attesting to Nathan’s breaches and, at times, has had to appear at the hearing, even though intimidated by the prospect of Nathan being in the courtroom. Nathan was found guilty of a breach but never received anything other than a fine as a penalty. Following each hearing, Anna expected that the police would contact her to advise the outcome, but she found that she had to call and ask. She was only told about the fines and can’t say whether convictions were recorded or whether Nathan has ever been charged with stalking, assault, or any other offense related to his domestic and family violence towards her and the child.

Anna believes that Nathan continues to be involved in criminal activities. Although Nathan doesn’t physically approach Anna, he continues to monitor her and the child through his family and friends. Anna feels constantly unsafe and under threat and won’t venture out of the house without people who can protect her and the child. Anna regularly changes her appearance and telephone number and has recently changed the locks on her house. The police have cautioned her to lock herself in. Still young, Anna is desperate to establish a normal and happy life; however, she feels trapped and damaged by Nathan’s ongoing domestic and family violence and by what she perceives to be the failure of the justice system to recognize the seriousness of Nathan’s crimes and to punish him appropriately, and to protect her and the child adequately.

Nathan has never paid child support.  She wants the court to prevent Nathan from visitation but is concerned the court would criticize her for seeking to prevent a relationship between Nathan and the child.  At the same time, child protection has told her that if she remained with Nathan, the child would be removed.

Anna can’t see what else she can do to improve her situation. She doesn’t have the financial resources to hire a private lawyer, and her health is so compromised that her future employment prospects are limited. She is also very concerned about the daily and long-term impacts of the violence and fear on the child.

What can be done to further help Anna? As a social service professional, you can listen first and foremost.  It is difficult to be young and feel like nobody can help.  Anna mentioned having a strong support system at home.  Can she utilize these family members better?  Does she have a safety plan?  A professional can help her with legal aid resources and understanding her and her child’s rights.  Help can be given with documenting and court expectations.  Local shelters and groups might have resources for employment and child care.  



 There are many options to give to those in need.  As a health care provider, you must be prepared with the resources and suggestions. 


If a person is not prepared to immediately leave an abusive relationship, they must develop

safety plans.  While in a violent relationship, a victim must be prepared to leave if physically threatened.  They should be prepared to call for help by phone or yell if it is safe.  If a confrontation occurs, the advice is to stay close to an exit and avoid being in the bathroom, kitchen, or any weapons.  The potential target of violence should consider safe ways to exit the house in advance quickly.  They need to determine which doors, windows, stairways, etc., are the quickest and safest to use and where they will be when they have exited.  In some cases, it is a good idea to get spare keys to their vehicles made and placed in an accessible place.  Keys are often taken from them in an argument.

Belongings are not a factor in the face of violence.  Getting to a safe place is far more important.  If there is ongoing abuse if safe, advice can be given to keep a bag of clothing and essentials at a friend’s residence.  Neighbors who are aware of the violence need to be identified and should be encouraged to call the police if they hear a disturbance.  Developing a code for children, friends, and neighbors is advised when help is needed. 

If a person is already preparing to leave a violent relationship, additional elements of a safety plan can be considered.  Separate savings account with a safe address is sometimes recommended when safe.  Money, spare keys, important documents, and extra clothing can be left with a friend so that leaving can occur quickly.  Arrangements for where a victim will stay can be made in advance.  Arrangements for pets in danger can also be made.  A calling card and the number of the closest emergency shelter should always be on hand.  The most dangerous period is when someone is leaving a violent relationship. 

Upon leaving a dangerous relationship, additional locks, different routes to and from work, sometimes informing employers is necessary, and an unlisted phone number should be obtained.  A safety plan for the children needs to be developed when the parent is not with them.  Daycare centers and schools must be informed about who can and cannot pick up the children.  If the person has obtained a restraining order, they should always keep a copy of their person.  All threatening phone messages should be documented, tapes of threats should be retained, and all instances of violating a protective order should be reported. 

Many domestic violence programs can offer assistance and help in obtaining a civil protection order and a referral to a lawyer who can help pursue criminal prosecution.  Laws vary widely in different cities, counties, and states.  In most jurisdictions, judges can issue protective orders, order abusers to leave home, award temporary custody, and order temporary child support.  Unfortunately, a court order offers little protection against a determined abuser. 

In the past, police traditionally regarded domestic violence as a family dispute in which they did not get involved beyond the immediate incident.  The system is changing, and frequently both parties are arrested and left to the court system to untangle.  In many areas, the arrest of the alleged batterer is mandatory.  Even if victims withdraw charges due to fear or emotional confusion, the perpetrator of the violence will still be prosecuted.  Victims are not able to drop charges. 

Many communities generally offer some sort of shelter and services for battered women and their children.  The addresses and telephone numbers of shelters are kept as secret as possible.  Under most circumstances, the police can make a referral with these numbers.

Most court systems recommend domestic violence counseling.  Individual therapy for victims generally focuses on assisting them to look at and correct distorted thinking and deal with the terror of long-term abuse, anger, and anxiety that they experience.  Many victims love their abusers.  This is a time of confusion and loneliness.  Building rapport, establishing a support system for the survivor, and helping them recognize and correct the distorted belief systems are critical components of treatment. Many will fall into similar types of relationships without personal growth.  Violence, feelings of guilt, and the inability to make decisions for them are normal; what is strange and different is a healthy relationship.  Helping them explore their history of relationship patterns can enable them to seek out positive relationships the next time.  Individuals need to deal with family-of-origin issues and any reasons they stayed in an abusive relationship so they do not repeat the same decisions in future relationships. 

Group therapy can be very effective in this issue.  This therapeutic mode of treatment allows individuals to build a support network and hear the stories of others in similar situations.  They also become more confident in their abilities as they support others.  They begin to recognize that they were not responsible for their partner’s behavior.  Well, if she wasn’t pretty enough, together enough, a good enough mother, a good enough cook, then no one could be for him Group therapy is also helpful in showing the effects of domestic violence on children.

As a professional, you need to have your resources handy.  Each local area has hotline numbers and resources specific to that location. 


The following are national resource numbers:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE 

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence:  1-800-537-2238

Battered Women’s Justice Project:  1-800-903-0111

Resource Center on Domestic Violence/Child Protection and Custody: 800-527-3223

Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence:  1-888-792-2873

Family Violence Prevention Fund:  415-252-8089


References, Recommended Reading, and State Coalition List


  1. Aldgate, J., & Statham, J. (2001). The Children Act Now: Messages from research. Stationery Office.
  2. Arney, F., & Scott, D. (2010). Working with vulnerable families: A partnership approach. Cambridge University Press.
  3. Myhill, A. (2017, May 1). Measuring domestic violence: Context is everything. Latest TOC RSS. Policy Press.;jsessionid=2pc02959fvm4m.x-ic-live-02
  4. Usher, K., et al. (2020, April 20). Family violence and COVID-19: Increased vulnerability and reduced options for support. International Journal of Mental Health Nursing. Wiley Online Library.

State Coalition List

Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 4762
Montgomery, AL 36101
(334) 832-4842 Fax: (334) 832-4803
(800) 650-6522 Hotline
Email: [email protected]

Alaska Network on Domestic and Sexual Violence
130 Seward Street, Room 209
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-3650 Fax: (907) 463-4493

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
301 East Bethany Home Road, Suite C194
Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 279-2900 Fax: (602) 279-2980
(800) 782-6400 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1401 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 170
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 907-5612 Fax: (501) 907-5618
(800) 269-4668 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 1798
Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 444-7163 Fax: (916) 444-7165
(800) 524-4765 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 900
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 831-9632 Fax: (303) 832-7067
(888) 778-7091

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
90 Pitkin Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
(860) 282-7899 Fax: (860) 282-7892
(888) 774-2900 In State DV Hotline
Email: [email protected]

Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
100 West 10th Street, #703
Wilmington, DE 19801
(302) 658-2958 Fax: (302) 658-5049
(800) 701-0456 Statewide
Email: [email protected]

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
5 Thomas Circle Northwest
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193
Email: [email protected]

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
425 Office Plaza
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 425-2749 Fax: (850) 425-3091
(850) 621-4202 TDD
(800) 500-1119 In State

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
114 New Street, Suite B
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 209-0280 Fax: (404) 766-3800
(800) 334-2836 Crisis Line
Email: [email protected]

Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
716 Umi Street, Suite 210
Honolulu, HI 96819-2337
(808) 832-9316 Fax: (808) 841-6028

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
300 Mallard Drive, Suite 130
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 384-0419 Fax: (208) 331-0687
(888) 293-6118 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
801 South 11th Street
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 789-2830 Fax: (217) 789-1939
(217) 242-0376 TTY
Email: [email protected]

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1915 West 18th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 917-3685 Fax: (317) 917-3695
(800) 332-7385 In State
Email: [email protected]

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
515 – 28th Street, Suite 104
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 244-8028 Fax: (515) 244-7417
(800) 942-0333 In State Hotline
Email: [email protected]

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
634 Southwest Harrison Street
Topeka, KS 66603
(785) 232-9784 Fax: (785) 266-1874
Email: [email protected]
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
P.O. Box 356
Frankfort, KY 40602
(502) 695-5382 Phone/Fax

Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 77308
Baton Rouge, LA 70879
(225) 752-1296 Fax: (225) 751-8927

Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence
170 Park Street
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 941-1194 Fax: (207) 941-2327
Email: [email protected]

Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
6911 Laurel-Bowie Road, Suite 309
Bowie, MD 20715
(301) 352-4574 Fax: (301) 809-0422
(800) 634-3577 Nationwide
Email: i[email protected]

Jane Doe, Inc./Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
14 Beacon Street, Suite 507
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 248-0922 Fax: (617) 248-0902
(617) 263-2200 TTY/TDD
Email: [email protected]

Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
3893 Okemos Road, Suite B-2
Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 347-7000 Phone/TTY Fax: (517) 248-0902
Email: [email protected]

Minnesota Coalition For Battered Women
590 Park Street, Suite 410
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 646-6177 Fax: (651) 646-1527
(651) 646-0994 Crisis Line
(800) 289-6177 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 4703
Jackson, MS 39296
(601) 981-9196 Fax: (601) 981-2501
(800) 898-3234
Email: [email protected]

Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
718 East Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 634-4161 Fax: (573) 636-3728
Email: [email protected]

Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 818
Helena, MT 59624
(406) 443-7794 Fax: (406) 443-7818
(888) 404-7794 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition
1000 “O” Street, Suite 102
Lincoln, NE 68508
(402) 476-6256 Fax: (402) 476-6806
(800) 876-6238 In State Hotline
(877) 215-0167 Spanish Hotline
Email: [email protected]

Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence
220 South Rock Boulevard
Reno, NV 89502
(775) 828-1115 Fax: (775) 828-9911
(800) 500-1556 In State Hotline

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 353
Concord, NH 03302
(603) 224-8893 Fax: (603) 228-6096
(866) 644-3574 In State

New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women
1670 Whitehorse Hamilton Square
Trenton, NJ 08690
(609) 584-8107 Fax: (609) 584-9750
(800) 572-7233 In State
Email: [email protected]

New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence
201 Coal Avenue Southwest
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 246-9240 Fax: (505) 246-9434
(800) 773-3645 In State

New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
350 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12054
(518) 482-5464 Fax: (518) 482-3807
(800) 942-6906 English-In State
(800) 942-6908 Spanish-In State
Email: [email protected]

North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
123 West Main Street, Suite 700
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-9124 Fax: (919) 682-1449
(888) 232-9124 Nationwide

North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services
418 East Rosser Avenue, Suite 320
Bismark, ND 58501
(701) 255-6240 Fax: (701) 255-1904
(888) 255-6240 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Action Ohio Coalition For Battered Women
5900 Roche Drive, Suite 445
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 825-0551 Fax: (614) 825-0673
(888) 622-9315 In State
Email: [email protected]

Ohio Domestic Violence Network
4807 Evanswood Drive, Suite 201
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 781-9651 Fax: (614) 781-9652
(614) 781-9654 TTY
(800) 934-9840
Email: [email protected]

Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
3815 North Sante Fe Avenue, Suite 124
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
(405) 524-0700 Fax: (405) 524-0711

Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
380 Southeast Spokane Street, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-1951 Fax: (503) 230-1973
(877) 230-1951
Email: [email protected]

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
6400 Flank Drive, Suite 1300
Harrisburg, PA 17112
(717) 545-6400 Fax: (717) 545-9456
(800) 932-4632 Nationwide

The Office of Women Advocates
Box 11382
Fernandez Juancus Station
Santurce, PR 00910
(787) 721-7676 Fax: (787) 725-9248

Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
422 Post Road, Suite 202
Warwick, RI 02888
(401) 467-9940 Fax: (401) 467-9943
(800) 494-8100 In State
Email: [email protected]

South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 7776
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 256-2900 Fax: (803) 256-1030
(800) 260-9293 Nationwide

South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 141
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 945-0869 Fax: (605) 945-0870
(800) 572-9196 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
2 International Plaza Drive, Suite 425
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 386-9406 Fax: (615) 383-2967
(800) 289-9018 In State
Email: [email protected]

Texas Council On Family Violence
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 794-1133 Fax: (512) 794-1199

Utah Domestic Violence Council
205 North 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
(801) 521-5544 Fax: (801) 521-5548

Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 405
Montpelier, VT 05601
(802) 223-1302 Fax: (802) 223-6943
(802) 223-1115 TTY
Email: [email protected]

Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
Box 2734
St. Croix, VI 00822
(340) 773-9272 Fax: (340) 773-9062
Email: [email protected]

Virginians Against Domestic Violence
2850 Sandy Bay Road, Suite 101
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 221-0990 Fax: (757) 229-1553
(800) 838-8238 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
711 Capitol Way, Suite Suite 702
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 586-1022 Fax: (360) 586-1024
(360) 586-1029 TTY

1402 Third Avenue, Suite 406
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 389-2515 Fax: (206) 389-2520
(800) 886-2880 In State
(206) 389-2900 TTY
Email: [email protected]

Washington State Native American Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 13260
Olympia, WA 98508
(360) 352-3120 Fax: (360) 357-3858
(888) 352-3120

West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
5004 Elk River Road South
Elkview, WV 25071
(304) 965-3552 Fax: (304) 965-3572

Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
307 South Paterson Street, Suite 1
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-0539 Fax: (608) 255-3560
Email: [email protected]

Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 236
409 South Fourth Street
Laramie, WY 82073
(307) 755-5481 Fax: (307) 755-5482
(800) 990-3877 Nationwide
Email: [email protected]



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