Mother with her arm around her teen daughter
What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors through the use of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and/or economic abuse by one person in a current or former intimate relationship in order to maintain power and control over the other.

Domestic violence knows no boundaries. People of all ages, genders, cultures, religions, professions, abilities, and income levels experience domestic violence. However, systemic racism, poverty, immigration status, disability, and other inequities can make the risks even more severe.

Types of abuse:

Physical abuse occurs when one person uses physical force or the threat of physical force to intimidate, injure, or endanger another person. A wide range of behaviors falls into the category of physical abuse. They include pushing, hitting, kicking, grabbing, choking, throwing things, driving recklessly, abandonment, and assault with a weapon.

Sexual abuse exists in any situation in which one partner forces another to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity. Forcible sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner, is an act of aggression and violence.

Reproductive coercion occurs when one partner strips another of their ability to control their reproductive health. It includes sabotaging birth control, threatening or pressuring someone to get pregnant, having an abortion, or removing a condom during sex without consent.

Emotional abuse or psychological abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Emotional abuse may include verbal abuse, such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and gaslighting. Nonverbal abuse may consist of behaviors and tactics such as isolation, intimidation, and coercion. Emotional abuse is just as damaging as physical abuse.

Technological-assisted abuse is when a current or former partner uses technology, ranging from cellphones and computers to thermostats and cars, to track, humiliate, or harass.

Economic abuse occurs when one partner controls another’s ability to be financially independent. This may include limiting their ability to work or go to school, controlling access to bank accounts or paychecks, and not allowing their partner’s name on a lease, mortgage, or car title.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact LifeWire’s 24-Hour Helpline at 425-746-1940 for information and support.