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Facts About Domestic Violence

Special to American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2000 – The U.S. Army Community Service Family Advocacy Program provided the following facts and hints in observance of National Domestic Violence Month, October.

Q. What is domestic violence?

A. Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior where one person in a relationship tries to gain power and control over his or her partner through fear and intimidation. This can take the form of threatening or actually using physical violence, or the abuse can be emotional, economic or sexual.

Are You in an Abusive Relationship?

(Excerpted from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management handbook on domestic violence.)

Recognizing domestic violence is not always easy, even for the victims. This is because domestic violence is much more than physical abuse. In fact, many women who are controlled by their partners and who live in danger and fear have never been physically assaulted. In the early stages, the pattern of abuse is hard to recognize. People in abusive relationships, however, consistently report that the abuse gets worse over time.

The following checklist of behaviors may help you decide if you or someone you know is being abused.

Does your partner ...

Use emotional and psychological control?  

  • Call you names, yell, put you down, make racial or other slurs, or constantly criticize or undermine you and your abilities as a wife, partner or mother? 

     

  • Behave in an overprotective way or become extremely jealous? 

     

  • Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you choose as a companion? 

     

  • Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?  

Use economic control?  

  • Deny you access to family assets such as bank accounts, credit cards or a car? 

     

  • Control all the finances, force you to account for what you spend or take your money? 

     

  • Prevent or try to prevent you from getting or keeping a job or from going to school? 

     

  • Limit your access to health, prescription or dental insurance?  

Make threats?  

  • Threaten to report you to the authorities (the police or child protective services) for something you didn't do? 

     

  • Threaten to harm or kidnap the children? 

     

  • Display weapons as a way of making you afraid or directly threaten you with weapons? 

     

  • Use his anger or "loss of temper" as a threat to get you to do what he wants?  

Commit acts of physical violence?  

  • Carry out threats to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends, or himself? 

     

  • Destroy personal property or throw things around? 

     

  • Grab, push, hit, punch, slap, kick, choke or bite you? 

     

  • Force you to have sex when you don't want to or to engage in sexual acts that you don't want to do?  

These common control tactics used by abusers are certainly not the only ones. If your partner does things that restrict your personal freedom or that make you afraid, you may be in an abusive relationship.

For more OPM information on domestic violence, go to www.opm.gov/workplac/html/domestic.html-ssi.

Q. Who's affected?

A. Domestic violence happens to men and women in all racial, economic and religious groups, but women are the victims in 95 percent of reported cases. Children in homes where spouse abuse occurs are also at risk, both for being abused themselves and for having such problems as anxiety, depression, poor health, low self-esteem, drug abuse and suicide.

Q. How big is the problem?

A. Domestic violence often goes unreported, but an estimated 3 million to 4 million American women are beaten each year by their partners. According to the FBI, 30 percent of women and 6 percent of men killed in this country die at the hands of their partners or ex-partners. Some experts say that a woman has between a 20 percent to 33 percent chance of being physically assaulted by a partner or ex-partner in her lifetime.

***

Q. Can domestic violence be prevented?

A. Domestic violence can flare up with little or no warning and from a spouse who is a loving partner in many other ways. The abuse may start as verbal or psychological, then escalate to physical assault. Therefore, the best time to seek counseling and take other preventive steps is at the first sign of abuse. In order to prevent future abuse, both partners must be committed to making a nonviolent relationship work.

***

Q. How are victims protected?

A. Police can help when physical violence is occurring or seems imminent. The courts can provide special orders to keep abusive partners away from their victims. Counselors and support groups are available for both victims and abusers. Local domestic violence shelters offer safe havens for victims and children as well as counseling and education programs.

***

Protect Yourself

Be prepared in advance to protect yourself and your children if a crisis should arise:  

  • Prearrange a safe place to go, such as the home of a friend or relative or a hotel. 

     

  • Have the following items packed and in an accessible place such as a car, closet, at work or with friends: Two to three days' worth of clothes; money, checks and charge cards; important papers such as birth certificates, court orders, immunization records, driver's license; phone numbers of friends, shelters and counselors.

***

12 Early Warning Signs  

  • Abuse during courtship. 

     

  • Alcohol or drug abuse. 

     

  • Background of family violence. 

     

  • Minimizing effects of violence. 

     

  • Denial of problem. 

     

  • Difficulty handling frustration. 

     

  • Extreme jealousy. 

     

  • Mental abuse. 

     

  • Need to control. 

     

  • Sexual abuse. 

     

  • Threats of violence. 

     

  • Verbal abuse.

***

Is Your Partner Abusing You? Ten Ways to Tell  

  • Are you afraid of doing the "wrong" thing, even if you're not sure what that is? 

     

  • Does your partner watch your every move? 

     

  • Do you feel sexually ashamed or humiliated, or are you being sexually hurt? 

     

  • Does your partner refuse to help when you're sick, injured or pregnant? 

     

  • Does he or she "put you down" at home or in public? 

     

  • Do you avoid even discussing some subjects because you're afraid your partner's reaction will be violent? 

     

  • Does your partner place excessive limitations on the things you do, such as the time he or she "allows" you to do errands or to see friends? 

     

  • Does your partner accuse you of being unfaithful, of being crazy, of being worthless? 

     

  • Has he or she injured you physically, no matter how slightly? 

     

  • Do you live in constant fear for yourself or your children?

***

Nobody Deserves to Be Abused

If you are abused:

1. Protect yourself and your children.

2. Seek help, preferably for both yourself and your partner, but at least for yourself.

3. Make the changes necessary for you and your children to live abuse-free.

***

It's never too soon -- or too late -- to admit there is a problem and seek help.

Visit the DoD "Domestic Violence: DoD's Next Frontline" web site at www.defenselink.mil/specials/domesticviolence/.

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