Overview of Domestic Violence

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What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of threatening or violent behaviors combined with other kinds of abuse. This pattern of behavior is used to control another person. The abuser might be married to the person they are abusing, or might live with or be dating the person they are abusing. The abuser might be abusing their ex-spouse or someone they used to live with or date.

Domestic violence includes things like physical assaults, threats, stalking, sexual abuse, and verbal, emotional, or financial abuse. You do not have to be physically injured to be harmed by domestic violence.

Examples of Domestic Violence

Types of domestic violence include physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, and using children to abuse.

Examples of Physical Abuse are:

  • Slapping
  • Punching
  • Strangling
  • Shoving
  • Kicking
  • Throwing objects
  • Biting
  • Pulling hair
  • Withholding things like food, water, or medical attention

Examples of Emotional Abuse are:

  • Name-calling
  • Manipulating
  • Acts of extreme jealousy
  • Blaming you for the abuse
  • Trivializing the abuse
  • Humiliating or degrading you
  • Engaging in angry outbursts
  • Threatening you, your children, family members, friends, or pets
  • Threatening or attempting suicide
  • Monitoring your activities

Examples of Sexual Abuse are:

  • Rape
  • Groping
  • Using degrading or sexual names
  • Injuring private parts of your body
  • Using threats or coercion to get sex
  • Refusing to use protection against sexually transmitted diseases or pregnancy
  • Forcing sexual acts in front of children or with other people

Examples of Financial Abuse are:

  • Not letting you work or disrupting your job
  • Not letting you go to school or disrupting your education
  • Forcing you to be the only person who works
  • Controlling all of the finances
  • Giving you an allowance
  • Making you feel bad about how you spend your money

Examples of Using Children to Abuse are:

  • Kidnapping or threatening to kidnap your children
  • Sexually abusing or otherwise physically harming your children
  • Threatening to harm your children
  • Threatening to get custody of your children or filing for a custody order
  • Threatening to call Child Protective Services
  • Using parenting time as an opportunity to harass you or deliver threats to you
  • Forcing you to punish your children with threats to hurt you or them

This list has only some of the ways a person can be abusive. You might have been abused in these ways or in other ways.

Why Am I Being Abused?

If you are being abused or were abused in the past, it is not your fault. That is hard to understand sometimes. The abuser probably told you many times that you deserved the abuse. But that is wrong. No one deserves to be hurt, to be scared, to be degraded and belittled. No one deserves to be abused.

Domestic violence is about the abuser’s desire to have power and control over you. Domestic violence is not about the abuser being jealous or you making the abuser angry. It is not about the abuser’s drug or alcohol problems. It is not because the abuser is “stressed out” by work, money, children, or other responsibilities. The abuser is responsible for their behavior. Any other explanation is an excuse.

There is no typical domestic violence victim or abuser. Abusers and the people they abuse can be of any race, gender, income bracket, education level, and sexual orientation. Domestic violence almost always continues to get worse over time.

Domestic Violence Is Also a Crime

Domestic violence is not just wrong; it can also be a crime. Depending on the specific things the abuser has done, they might be charged with a number of crimes. These crimes could include domestic assault, stalking, criminal sexual conduct, home invasion, and malicious destruction of property.

If the police arrest the abuser, you or the abuser might believe that you can choose not to “press charges.” That is not true. A crime victim does not have the authority to decide whether a crime has been committed and whether a prosecution should go forward. The decision whether to charge the abuser with a crime is made by the prosecuting attorney. The prosecuting attorney is the attorney who represents the government in criminal court cases.

Help Is Available

If you are being threatened or hurt, it is not your fault. Violence is not a way to resolve any problem. You don’t have control over the abuser’s violence, but there are people who can help you figure out what your options are. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, or your local domestic violence agency for help in making a safety plan. In most situations, your local domestic violence agency can work with you without telling anyone about you or what you tell them. Use the Guide to Legal Help to find your local domestic violence agency.

A Personal Protection Order (PPO) can be an important part of your safety plan. For more information, read Overview of Personal Protection Orders. You can also use our Do-It-Yourself Personal Protection Order (PPO).

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