What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is a term used to describe violence and abuse by family members or intimate partners such as a spouse, former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, or date. Other terms used for domestic violence include the following:
Domestic violence can take many forms, but involves using intimidation and threats or violent behaviors to gain power and control over another person. Usually, the abusive person is a male, and women are often the victims; however, domestic violence occurs against males. Child abuse, elder abuse, and sibling abuse are also considered domestic violence.
Facts about domestic violence:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) lists the following facts about domestic violence and women:
The most common cause of injury to women 15 to 44 years of age is domestic violence.
About 4.8 million women are victimized by intimate partners annually.
Approximately 31 percent of women responded in the National Violence Against Women Survey that they had been raped and/or physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabitating partner, or date at some time in their life.
More than 40 percent of women who are victims of violence report being injured.
Increased frequency of violence toward a spouse is associated with increased risk of the violent spouse also being abusive to the child.
There is a strong association between stalking and other forms of violence: 81 percent of women who were stalked by a current or former husband or partner were also physically assaulted by that partner, and 31 percent were also sexually assaulted.
Psychological consequences for victims of intimate partner violence can include depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts, lowered self-esteem, alcohol and other drug abuse, and post-traumatic stress disorder.
What are the different forms of domestic violence?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, abuse often begins with verbal behaviors such as name-calling, threats, and hitting or throwing objects. It can become worse, including pushing, slapping, and holding against the victim's will. Further battering may include punching, hitting, and kicking and may escalate to life-threatening behaviors such as choking, breaking of bones, or use of weapons.
The following are forms of domestic violence and battering:
How to get help:
First, you must recognize that battering or abuse is occurring. Because verbal and emotional abuse often precede physical violence, you should be aware of warning signs that include extreme jealousy, possessiveness, a bad temper, unpredictability, cruelty to animals, and verbal abusiveness.
Contact your local battered women's shelter or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. They can provide you with helpful information and advice.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence urges women in abusive relationships to create a safety plan. The following plan may help you in difficult situations:
Remember that help is available and that you have the right to live without fear and violence. Without help, abuse will continue and place you at risk for serious harm.
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