What is Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior, used by one person in a relationship to gain and maintain power and control over the other person.
Coercive behavior can include physical violence, sexual assault, emotional and psychological intimidation, verbal abuse and threats, stalking, isolation, harm to children, economic control, destruction of personal property, and animal cruelty.
Domestic abuse is not a fight, an isolated incidence of anger, or what happens when a person is “out of control.”
There are a lot of myths about domestic violence, and it is important to remember that this behavior is purposeful and chosen… And it is never the fault of the victim.
While healthy intimate relationships experience ups and downs, when behavior by one person consistently tears down the other person, whether emotionally, physically, sexually, mentally, spiritually, or economically, this is abuse. Abuse describes behaviors by people who use coercive control to limit the freedoms, thoughts, feelings, and actions of the people they say they love most.
Most domestic abuse is perpetrated by men who abuse their current or former female intimate partners. People with other gender identities and sexual orientations also commit abuse, in much smaller numbers. Current research indicates that:
- One in 4 women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, while 1 in 7 men has experienced the same (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: Executive Summary).
- In 2012, 13,115 survivors of domestic abuse received services from the domestic abuse resource centers of the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence; 96% were women and children.
- Domestic abuse homicides continue to account for approximately 50% of all homicides in Maine over time; the large majority of these homicides are committed by men against women (Maine Department of Public Safety).
Domestic abuse is not something that only happens in individual relationships. Abuse happens in a large number of intimate partnerships and families across the United States and the world. Abusive behavior by individuals reflects both their own mindset of entitlement, and also a historical culture and tradition that reinforce abuse and violence, particularly through male power and privilege.
Abuse happens in all kinds of intimate partnerships and families, including those who are wealthy and poor, those of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, those who are formally educated and those who are not. It happens in heterosexual and same-sex relationships, to people in urban and rural settings, to younger and older individuals, and to those who are spiritual or religious and those who are not.
People who abuse use many different tactics against their intimate partners. Whether their behavior includes verbal put downs, financial control, isolation from friends and family members, physical attacks, use of computers or telephones or other technology to monitor a victim’s activities, threats and intimidation, or other behaviors, it all creates pain and hurt and is all considered abuse.