What is Domestic Violence?


Domestic violence or domestic abuse refers to a pattern of controlling behavior used by one partner in an intimate relationship to maintain power and control over the other. It is not a private family matter, but a pervasive and life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, or education.


Warning signs of potential abusers include: wanting to move too quickly into the relationship, being initially overly attentive, not respecting boundaries, being excessively jealous and accusing their partner of being unfaithful, criticizing or putting their partner down, not taking responsibility for their behavior, isolating their partner from family and friends, and taking control of their partner’s money.



The effects of abuse on victims can include physical symptoms such as bruises and burn marks, as well as emotional and psychological symptoms such as low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, and difficulty concentrating. Children who witness or experience abuse can also exhibit symptoms such as sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. It’s important to remember that these symptoms can be transitory once the children are safe and away from the abuser.



If you suspect that you or someone you know is in a controlling relationship, it’s important to remember that it is not the responsibility of the person being controlled to understand why the abuser is behaving in this way. The abuser’s behavior is about their own issues with power and control, not about the actions or words of the person they are controlling.


If you want to help someone in a controlling relationship, it’s important to understand that leaving such a relationship can be dangerous and may take time. Here are some ways to help:


Listen to the person and believe what they are telling you.

Don’t judge them for their situation.

Remind them that they are not to blame for the abuse and that no one deserves to be treated that way.

Let them know that they are not alone and that there are resources available to them.

Avoid speaking negatively about the abuser.

Provide information about local advocacy and shelter services, such as Women and Children’s Horizons (262-652-9900)

Respect the person’s choices and pace in deciding what steps they want to take.

Help them create a safety plan.

Offer specific types of assistance, such as a ride or bus money.

Let them know what you are able to offer in terms of support.

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