As defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.
Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
You might be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:
You might be in a phisically abusive relationship if your partner:
You might be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:
Domestic violence can build from something very small to a life threatening incident. The graphic above illustrates the cycle of violence. Most relationships start in a honeymoon phase, they've just gotten together and everything is wonderful. He or she has been swept off their feet. The tension building phase can last days or weeks, it is usually described as a "walking on eggshells" feeling. Your partner may be moody, edgy, easily angered. The tension eventually builds to a violent explosion. This is an explosive and unpredictable period, usually lasting between 24 and 72 hours, which may result in serious injuries or death. The incident is a result of the emotional state of the abuser or an external event rather than something the victim has done. During this period the victim takes actions to survive the abuse. These may include accommodating the abuser’s demands or trying to escape. Following the violent episode most abusers enter the honeymoon phase where they apologize and promise it will never happen again. This may last for days or weeks, possibly even months. The victim wants to believe this is true. The victim may have feelings of guilt, love, anger, confusion. Over time there may be changes to the cycle with some phases getting shorter and shorter. Usually each time an explosion is reached the violence becomes more severe. If you have found yourself in this cycle and want help please call one of our 24/7 Advocates at 775-421-1028. Abuse is never your fault and you are not alone.
Understanding the nature of domestic violence can be difficult for someone who is concerned about a loved one, even for the victim themselves.
Why do abusers abuse?
People abuse because they choose to do so. Many believe that alcohol and drugs cause abusers to be violent; however, research does not support this belief. Alcohol, stress, the weather, kids, unemployment, etc. do not cause domestic violence. A batterer abuses to maintain power and control over their partner because they want to. And it is never the victims fault.
At the very heart of domestic violence is the belief by perpetrators that they are entitled to control their victim/partner. Abusers don't batter because they are out of control. Control is what it is all about. Abusers choose to respond to a situation violently. They are making a conscious decision to behave in a violent manner. They know what they are doing and what they want from their victims.
Please see the Understanding Domestic Violence Guide for more info.