Understanding Domestic Violence

Bridges of Change • Domestic Violence Shelter

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence and/or domestic abuse) is an escalating pattern of abuse where one partner in an intimate relationship controls the other through force, intimidation, or the threat of violence. Domestic violence affects all ages, both sexes, all cultures, all religions, all professions, and people from all income levels.

 Domestic violence often follows a typical pattern or cycle of behavior. Each phase may last for a different length of time. Over time, the phases may grow shorter and the overall level of violence may increase. Domestic violence, stalking, and sexual assault result from a batterer’s need to exert power and control over the victim, and can include many different types of abuse, not all physical.

It is more than just the bruises and broken bones. Interpersonal violence can also include sexual, psychological/emotional, and financial abuse.


Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  1. Tells you that you can never do anything right
  2. Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  3. Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  4. Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  5. Controls every penny spent in the household
  6. Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  7. Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  8. Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do
  9. Prevents you from making your own decisions
  10. Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  11. Prevents you from working or attending school
  12. Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  13. Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  14. Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  15. Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol