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Domestic Violence   


What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is defined as any abuse that occurs within the victim’s domestic circle. Included within this circle are immediate and extended family members, including partners and ex-partners of the person who’s being abused. Therefore, it’s sometimes referred to as family trauma.

Professionals use this term whenever there’s a close relationship between the person who’s perpetrating the domestic violence and the person who’s being abused. Typically, there’s some form of power gap that exists between them (e.g., the person being abused is dependent on the person who’s perpetrating it in some way). This can be physical, sexual, or psychological in nature.

While none of the types of abuse that fit into this description should ever happen, some types happen more frequently than others. These include child abuse, senior abuse, occurrences within honor-based societies (e.g., female circumcision, forced marriage), psychological abuse, and stalking.

Are there different types of domestic violence?

Yes, there are several different types of domestic abuse including physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and economic (a.k.a. financial) abuse.

What is physical abuse?

This involves any form of physical harm or violence inflicted on the victim, such as hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, choking, or using weapons to cause injury.


What is emotional abuse?


Emotional abuse involves behaviors aimed at undermining the victim's self-esteem, confidence, and mental well-being. Examples include verbal threats, insults, constant criticism, intimidation, manipulation, and isolation from friends and family.


What is psychological abuse?


Psychological abuse entails tactics that cause emotional or mental anguish to the victim. This can include gaslighting (manipulating someone into doubting their perceptions, memories, or sanity), playing mind games, humiliation, threats to harm loved ones, or controlling behavior such as monitoring movements and activities.


What is sexual abuse?

Sexual abuse involves non-consensual sexual activity or coercion within an intimate relationship. It includes rape, sexual assault, forced sexual acts, unwanted touching, harassment, and exploitation.


What is financial abuse?

Financial abuse involves controlling or exploiting the victim's financial resources and independence. This can include preventing the victim from accessing money, restricting their access to employment or education, withholding financial resources for basic needs, stealing assets, or running up debts in the victim's name.

What is the most common type of domestic violence?

There are many types of domestic violence. The four most common types include:

  • Physical abuse (e.g., pushing, slapping, scratching, punching, kicking, restraining)

  • Emotional abuse (e.g., belittling, humiliating)

  • Economic abuse (e.g., controlling finances, not allowing a partner to work)

  • Psychological abuse (e.g., saying or doing things to strike fear in another person)


Although many of these things may not be “criminal,” they can still be used to bolster a domestic violence case against an abuser since they do result in family trauma.

Why does domestic violence happen?

Since domestic violence is unique in each and every situation, there isn’t any one specific cause for it. It’s also important to remember that violence is a choice, not an impulse. Therefore, a survivor is never to be blamed for the abuse they’ve incurred or the family trauma that’s occurred.


What actually causes domestic violence is influenced by the situation (e.g., your state of behavioral well-being). This is why when there are two people in a relationship who are predisposed to act violently, a situation can quickly spiral out of control resulting in family trauma.


Some researchers have also found that what actually causes domestic violence is learned behavior. When children grow up in a home where they witness domestic violence, they’re more likely to become perpetrators in the future. This is because perpetrators of family trauma view physical and psychological violence as acceptable ways to solve conflicts. The same is also true of those who grow up learning that a different gender is inferior.

Who are the most common victims of domestic violence?

Statistics show that more than 12 million people fall victim to domestic violence each year. This means that 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have suffered from domestic abuse in the U.S. alone. Typically, these persons are between the ages 18 – 34, but other age groups are also affected. Unfortunately, 77% - 81% of these women were previously victimized by the same offender.

What are the signs of domestic violence?

There are many signs of abuse that you should be aware of. These signs of an abusive man can be physical, psychological, or even sexual in nature. Some of the most common signs of domestic violence include:Extremely controlling (e.g., sabotaging birth control methods or demanding sex; controlling finances, what the victim wears, how they act; not allowing the victim to attend work/school or harassing them there)Extremely jealous or possessiveUnpredictableAbuse of other family members, children, or petsVerbal or psychological abuse (e.g., demeaning the victim; accusing the victim of having an affair or flirting; blaming the victim when anything bad happens)Bad temperEmbarrassing or humiliating the victim in front of othersKnowing what these red flags for domestic violence are will help you notice signs of abuse right away. This is important so that you can recognize the signs of an abusive man before they cause too much family trauma.

What should I do if I'm experiencing abuse?

If you are experiencing domestic violence, it's essential to prioritize your safety and well-being. Here's what you can do:


Seek Immediate Safety

* If you are in immediate danger, call emergency services (such as 911 in the United States) for immediate assistance.
* If possible, leave the situation and find a safe place, such as a neighbor's house, a public place, or a friend's or family member's home.
* Have a plan in place for how you will leave safely if the situation escalates.


Reach Out to Someone You Trust

Contact a trusted friend, family member, or neighbor who can provide support and assistance. Let them know what is happening and that you need help.


Access Local Resources

* Call a domestic violence hotline or helpline for confidential support, information, and resources. These hotlines can provide guidance on safety planning, accessing shelters, legal options, and counseling services. (U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-798-SAFE)
* Research and locate nearby domestic violence shelters or safe houses where you can find temporary refuge and support from trained staff.


Develop a Safety Plan

* Create a safety plan to help you respond effectively in different situations. This may include identifying safe places to go, memorizing emergency contact numbers, packing a "jump bag" with essential items (such as identification, money, medications, and important documents), and establishing a code word or signal to alert others when you're in danger.
* Consider seeking support from a domestic violence advocate, such as myself, who can assist you in developing a personalized safety plan. I offer this service for free to those in need.


Document Evidence

* Document any injuries, damages, or incidents of abuse, preferably with photographs or written descriptions. Save any paperwork you receive from doctor or hospital visits related to these injuries. This documentation is useful in legal proceedings and for seeking protection orders.


Explore Legal Options


* If you feel comfortable and safe doing so, consider contacting law enforcement to report the abuse and explore legal options for protection, such as obtaining a restraining order or filing criminal charges against the abuser.
* Seek assistance from legal aid organizations or domestic violence advocates who can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process.

What legal protections are available for survivors of domestic violence?

Legal protections for survivors of domestic violence vary depending on jurisdiction, but common options include:

Obtaining Protective Orders 

Survivors can seek a protective order (a.k.a., a restraining order, an order of protection) from the court. This legal document orders the abuser to stay away from the survivor and can include other provisions, such as prohibiting contact or requiring the abuser to leave the shared residence. Different types of protective orders (e.g., emergency orders, temporary orders, long-term orders) may be available depending on the jurisdiction. 

Filing Police Reports


Survivors can report incidents of domestic violence to law enforcement. This can result in the police conducting an investigation, documenting the incident, and potentially arresting the abuser if there's evidence of criminal behavior. Filing a police report creates an official record of the abuse, which can be important for legal proceedings and obtaining protective orders.


Pursuing Criminal Charges Against the Abuser


Survivors can choose to press charges against their abuser for criminal acts committed during incidents of domestic violence (e.g., assault, battery, stalking). Prosecutors may pursue criminal charges even if the survivor doesn't wish to participate in the legal process, although the survivor's cooperation can be crucial for a successful prosecution.


Accessing Legal Aid Services

Survivors who can't afford private legal representation may be eligible for assistance from legal aid organizations or pro bono attorneys. Legal aid services can provide survivors with advice, representation in court proceedings (e.g., obtaining protective orders, pursuing custody arrangements), and help navigating the legal system.

Seeking Supportive Services


Survivors can access a range of supportive services, (e.g., counseling, shelter, advocacy) through domestic violence organizations and agencies. These services can help survivors address their immediate safety needs, navigate the legal system, and begin the process of healing from the trauma of domestic violence.

Remember, you are not alone, and there are people and organizations, such as myself, ready to help you. Don't hesitate to reach out to me for support and assistance, even if you're unsure of your next steps. Your safety is the top priority.

How can I safely leave an abusive relationship?

Leaving an abusive relationship can be a difficult and dangerous process, but it's crucial for your safety and well-being. Here's a step-by-step guide to help you safely leave an abusive relationship:

Safety Planning

* Plan your exit strategy carefully. Choose a time when your partner is not around, if possible.
* Memorize important phone numbers, including those of trusted friends, family members, shelters, and domestic violence hotlines.
* Pack a "jump bag" with essential items, such as clothes, medications, important documents, and valuables, and keep it hidden in a safe place or with a trusted friend.
* Develop a code word or signal with a trusted friend or family member to alert them if you're in danger.
* Determine a safe place to go, whether it's a friend's house, a shelter, or somewhere else that's secure.


Accessing Emergency Shelters or Temporary Housing

Contact local domestic violence shelters or organizations for assistance. They can provide temporary housing, counseling, legal advocacy, and other support services. If you're unable to find a shelter, reach out to friends or family members who can offer you a safe place to stay temporarily. Consider staying in a hotel or motel if you have the financial means to do so, but ensure your location remains confidential.

Securing Important Documents and Financial Resources

Gather essential documents (e.g., your identification such as passport, driver's license; birth certificate; social security card; financial records; health insurance information; legal documents such as restraining orders). Keep these documents in a secure location outside of your home (e.g., in a safe deposit box, with a trusted friend or family member). If possible, establish your own bank account and secure access to funds to cover your immediate needs and expenses.


Seeking Support

Reach out to trusted individuals (e.g., friends, family members, religious/community leaders) for emotional support and assistance. Consider seeking counseling or therapy to help you cope with the trauma of leaving an abusive relationship and to develop healthy coping mechanisms. Contact local domestic violence hotlines or support groups for guidance and assistance. They can provide resources, referrals, and emotional support.


Legal Protection


If you're in immediate danger, consider obtaining a restraining order or protective order against your abuser. Consult with a lawyer or legal aid organization to understand your rights and options regarding divorce, child custody, and other legal matters. 

How can I support someone who's experiencing domestic violence?

Supporting a loved one who is experiencing domestic violence requires empathy, understanding, and patience. (You also need to offer these things to yourself throughout this process.) Here are some suggestions on how you can support them:

Offer Non-Judgmental Support

* Let your loved one know that you believe them and that you are there to support them unconditionally, without judgment.
* Avoid blaming or criticizing them for their situation. Instead, focus on expressing your concern for their safety and well-being.

Listen Empathetically

* Be a compassionate listener and allow your loved one to share their feelings, experiences, and concerns at their own pace.
* Validate their emotions and reassure them that their feelings are valid and understandable.

Help Them Create a Safety Plan

* Assist your loved one in developing a safety plan to help them stay safe in abusive situations. This plan may include identifying safe places to go, establishing a code word or signal to alert others when they're in danger, and packing a "jump bag" with essential items. If you need assistance with this process, please contact me.
* Encourage them to memorize emergency contact numbers, including local domestic violence hotlines and emergency services.

Connect Them with Professional Resources

* Provide information about local resources and support services available for survivors of domestic violence, such as hotlines, shelters, counseling services, and legal aid organizations.
* Offer to accompany them to appointments or meetings with professionals if they feel comfortable.
*  Help them access information about their legal rights and options for seeking protection orders or pursuing legal action against the abuser.

Respect Their Autonomy

* Respect your loved one's decisions and choices, even if they differ from what you would advise. Remember that they know their situation best and may need time to make decisions that are right for them.
* Avoid pressuring them to leave the relationship or take actions they're not ready for. Instead, focus on empowering them to make informed choices about their safety and well-being.

Provide Emotional Support

* Offer ongoing emotional support and encouragement, letting your loved one know that you are there for them whenever they need someone to talk to or lean on.
*Help them build their self-esteem and confidence by affirming their strengths and capabilities.

Educate Yourself

* Take the time to read through my blog so that you can educate yourself about domestic violence and its impact on survivors. This will help you better understand your loved one's experiences and needs, and it will enable you to offer more effective support.
* Remember that supporting a loved one experiencing domestic violence can be challenging and emotionally draining.

Take care of yourself as well and seek support from friends, family members, or professionals if needed. Your support can make a significant difference in your loved one's journey toward safety and healing.

How can I protect my children from domestic violence?

Ensure Immediate Safety

If you're in an abusive relationship, prioritize your children's safety by creating a safety plan that includes strategies for escaping or minimizing exposure to violence. Teach your children to recognize signs of escalating violence and to seek help immediately if they feel unsafe.


Recognize Signs of Child Abuse:

* Be vigilant for signs of physical, emotional, or sexual abuse in your children, such as unexplained injuries, changes in behavior, withdrawal, anxiety, depression, or regression in development.
* Take any concerns seriously and seek assistance from medical professionals, counselors, or child protection agencies if you suspect abuse.


Discuss Safety Plans with Children

* Have age-appropriate conversations with your children about safety and what to do if they witness or experience violence.
* Teach children to identify safe places either inside or outside of the home where they can go during a violent incident, such as a neighbor's house or a designated safe room.
* Establish a code word or signal that children can use to alert you or others if they're in danger without drawing attention to themselves.


Access Resources for Child Protection and Counseling

* Seek counseling or therapy for your children to help them process their experiences, cope with trauma, and develop healthy coping mechanisms.
* Encourage your children to participate in support groups or counseling programs specifically designed for children exposed to domestic violence.


Create a Support Network

* Reach out to trusted friends, family members, teachers, or healthcare professionals who can provide support and assistance to you and your children.
* Consider involving trusted adults in your children's lives who can serve as positive role models and sources of support during difficult times.


Model Healthy Relationships


* Demonstrate healthy communication, conflict resolution, and boundaries in your own relationships to provide positive examples for your children.
* Encourage open dialogue with your children about emotions, relationships, and healthy boundaries.
* Remember that protecting your children from domestic violence requires ongoing vigilance and proactive measures. By prioritizing their safety, seeking support, and accessing resources, you can help mitigate the impact of domestic violence on your children and support their healing and recovery.

What are the long-term effects of domestic violence?

The long-term effects of domestic violence can be profound and far-reaching, affecting various aspects of a survivor's life, including their physical health, emotional well-being, psychological state, and social relationships. Here are some of the common long-term consequences:

Physical Effects

* Chronic pain: Survivors of domestic violence may experience ongoing physical pain resulting from injuries sustained during abusive incidents.
* Long-term health problems: Domestic violence can lead to serious health issues such as migraines, gastrointestinal problems, cardiovascular problems, and autoimmune disorders. For more information on this please check out the book "The Body Keeps The Score."
* Increased risk of chronic conditions: Research suggests that survivors of domestic violence may be at a higher risk of developing chronic conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

Emotional and Psychological Effects

* Trauma and PTSD: Domestic violence survivors often experience trauma, which can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or complex post-traumatic stress disorder (cPTSD). These are characterized by flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, and avoidance behaviors.
* Depression: Many survivors struggle with feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness, leading to clinical depression.
* Anxiety: Chronic anxiety, panic attacks, and generalized anxiety disorder are common among survivors due to the ongoing fear and stress associated with abuse.
* Low self-esteem: Survivors may develop a negative self-image and struggle with feelings of guilt, shame, and self-blame instilled by their abuser.
* Dissociation: Some survivors may cope with the trauma by disconnecting from their emotions or experiencing dissociative episodes.

Social Effects


* Isolation: Abusers often use tactics such as isolation to control their victims, leading survivors to withdraw from social interactions and lose connections with friends and family.
* Financial dependence: Economic abuse can leave survivors financially vulnerable, making it difficult for them to access resources and rebuild their lives independently.
* Relationships: Survivors may face challenges in forming and maintaining healthy relationships due to trust issues, fear of intimacy, and difficulty setting boundaries.


Substance Abuse


Some survivors may turn to alcohol, drugs, or other substances as a way to numb their pain, cope with distressing emotions, or self-medicate symptoms of PTSD and depression. Research indicates that survivors of domestic violence are at a higher risk of developing substance abuse disorders compared to those who haven't experienced abuse. 

It's important to recognize that the effects of domestic violence are complex and can vary from person to person. Seeking support from mental health professionals, support groups, and trusted individuals can help survivors cope with the long-term consequences of abuse and work towards healing and recovery.

What traits do abusers have in common?

While there aren’t any detectable personalities of domestic violence perpetrators, there are some common traits and characteristics that you should know about. Some of the common traits and characteristics of domestic violence perpetrators include abusers: Frequently denying or minimizing just how serious the violence is and how it affects their victim. Objectifying the victim – seeing them as their property or as a sexual object. Feeling powerless and ineffective due to their own low self-esteem issues. (This is regardless of how successful they appear on the outside.) Externalizing the reason for their behavior. Oftentimes they blame stress, having a “bad day,” or their partner’s behavior. Acting like a “nice person” between the periods of violence as well as to those outside of the relationship. Knowing and avoiding these traits and characteristics can help save you from family trauma.

What is the Buddhists viewpoint on domestic violence?

In Buddhism, domestic violence is viewed as a violation of core principles such as compassion, non-violence, and ethical conduct. It contradicts the teachings of treating others with respect and equality, and it generates negative karma. Victims are encouraged to seek support and help. Overall, Buddhism promotes harmony, compassion, and non-violence within families and communities.

How can I help prevent domestic violence in my community?

Preventing domestic violence requires collective effort and a multifaceted approach. There are several ways you can help prevent domestic violence in your community.

Promote Awareness

* Organize community events, workshops, or seminars to raise awareness about the prevalence and consequences of domestic violence.
* Utilize social media platforms, local newspapers, and community bulletin boards to share information about domestic violence resources, helplines, and support services.


Advocate for Policy Changes

* Advocate for the implementation and enforcement of laws and policies that protect survivors of domestic violence, including restraining orders, access to shelters, and legal assistance.
* Lobby local government officials and policymakers to allocate funding for domestic violence prevention programs, victim services, and law enforcement training.


Support Survivors

* Offer support and assistance to survivors of domestic violence by listening to their experiences, validating their feelings, and connecting them with resources such as shelters, counseling services, legal aid, and this website.
* Volunteer at local domestic violence shelters or on domestic violence hotlines to provide practical support, crisis intervention, and emotional encouragement to survivors.

Challenge Harmful Attitudes and Behaviors

* Challenge gender-based stereotypes and societal norms that perpetuate power imbalances and contribute to domestic violence.
* Educate community members, including youth, about healthy relationships, consent, respect, and non-violent conflict resolution through school programs, community workshops, peer education initiatives, and relationship coaching services.


Foster Healthy Relationships and Gender Equality

* Promote gender equality and respect in all aspects of community life, including education, employment, and leadership opportunities.
* Support initiatives like this website as we work to empower individuals to recognize and address unhealthy relationship dynamics, such as bystander intervention training and peer support groups.
* Encourage positive role modeling of healthy relationships among community members, leaders, and public figures.


Engage Men and Boys

* Encourage men and boys to become allies in the fight against domestic violence by challenging toxic masculinity, promoting empathy, and fostering accountability.
* Support programs and initiatives that engage men and boys in conversations about healthy masculinity, bystander intervention, and gender-based violence prevention.


Collaborate with Community Partners


* Collaborate with local organizations, businesses, schools, religious institutions, healthcare providers and websites like this one to coordinate efforts and resources for domestic violence prevention and response.
* Establish community-wide partnerships to address the root causes of domestic violence and create a supportive network for survivors and their families.

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