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What is Domestic Abuse?

Domestic and dating abuse can be defined as a pattern of behavior that one person in an intimate relationship uses to gain increasing levels of control over his or her partner.

Abuse can include:

  • Physical abuse such as hitting, kicking, pushing, burning, strangling, using weapons of any kind, as well as interfering with medication or mobility devices, interfering with sleep, or anything else that puts another person's physical safety at risk.
  • Emotional and verbal abuse such as yelling, using threats and threatening behavior, harming or threatening pets, blaming, shaming, stalking, or coercing/forcing isolation from friends, family, and community.
  • Financial or educational abuse such as controlling money, interfering with a job or schooling, demanding receipts and full accounting for purchases, destroying credit, destroying property, or refusing to contribute to household expenses.
  • Sexual abuse such as forcing unwanted sexual contact, making unwanted sexual comments, insisting on a certain style of dress, or controlling, refusing, or sabotaging birth control.
  • Identity abuse (including spiritual abuse) such as targeting race, religion, spirituality, appearance, ability, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, immigration status, or other personal identification. Examples include insisting on, preventing, or interfering with various kinds of religious observance and expression; threatening to reveal private information (such as sexual orientation); making hurtful comments related to identity; or showing disrespect or hostility toward the group that one’s partner identifies with.
According to a 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey from the Centers for Disease Control, “Among victims of intimate partner violence, about 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.” Abuse happens at about the same rate in same-sex relationships.

People who abuse – even those who themselves have been victims of terrible abuse – make choices about when to abuse, whom to target, and in what ways they will demand and take control in a relationship.

This program is supported by MOVA through a 1984 VOCA grant from the OVC, OJP, US Department of Justice.

For more information, call 781-647-JFCS (5327) or email your questions via our contact us page.

Supported by CJP This program is funded in part by CJP.
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