What is domestic violence?
Domestic aggression, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence,” can be defined as systematic behavior between people aimed at gaining or maintaining power and control over an intimate partner.
Aggression is physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that affect the other person. This includes any behavior that frightens, intimidates, subdues, offends, humiliates, accuses, insults, or hurts someone.
Domestic aggression can affect anyone, regardless of race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can occur in all kinds of relationships, whether couples are married, cohabiting or dating. Domestic violence affects people of different socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, regardless of age, race, gender, sexual orientation, faith or social background.
Children, other relatives, or anyone else who lives together can also be victims of domestic violence.
Domestic aggression usually manifests itself as systematic aggressive behavior toward an intimate partner in a married or dating couple in which the aggressor gains power and control over the victim.
Domestic aggression can be psychological, physical, economic, or sexual in nature. Its manifestations are rarely isolated and usually escalate in frequency and severity. Domestic violence can result in serious injury or death.
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Are you a victim of aggression?
Check out the signs listed below and think about how you are being treated and how you are treating your partner.
How to recognize the signs of domestic violence
If your partner…
- Humiliates or ridicules you in front of friends and family.
- Diminishes your accomplishments.
- Makes you feel like you are unable to make decisions.
- Uses intimidation and threats to gain submission.
- Tells you that you are nothing without him.
- Treats you rudely, such as grabbing, pushing, pinching, shoving or hitting you.
- Calls you several times in an evening or comes unexpectedly to check if you are where he said you would be.
- Justifies hurting or hurting you by the effects of drugs or alcohol.
- Blames you for your feelings or actions.
- Makes you resort to sexual practices you are not ready for.
- Makes you feel there is “no way out” of your relationship.
- Keeps you from doing the things you want to do, such as spending time with friends and family.
- Tries to stop you from leaving after an argument or leaves you somewhere after an argument to “teach you a lesson.”
If you …
- Sometimes fearful of how your partner might behave.
- Constantly making excuses for your partner’s behavior to other people.
- Believing that you can only help your partner change by changing something about yourself.
- Trying not to do anything that could lead to conflict or make your partner angry.
- Always do what your partner wants, not what you want.
- Staying with your partner because you are afraid of how he or she will behave if you break up.
If at least one of these signs is present in your relationship, talk to someone. Without help from someone, the aggressive behavior will continue. That first call for help is a brave step in itself.
NO ONE deserves to be the victim of aggression. Aggression is not your fault. You are not alone.
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Physical and sexual violence, or the threat thereof, are the most prominent forms of domestic aggression and violence. It is usually their manifestations that make others aware of the problem. However, if the abuser regularly engages in other aggressive acts, coupled with one or more acts of physical violence, this represents a larger problem of abuse. Although physical abuse can be single or episodic, it instills a fear of similar abuse in the future, which allows the aggressor to control his victim’s lifestyle.
The Power and Control Model is a useful tool for understanding the general pattern of aggressive and abusive behavior that the abuser resorts to in order to establish and maintain control over his victim, whether he is a partner or any other person living under the same roof as the aggressor. Often one or more violent outbursts can be accompanied by many such aggressions. They are more difficult to identify, but they form a characteristic pattern of intimidation and control in family or domestic relationships.
(Source: Domestic Aggression Project, Duluth, Minnesota, USA )
Emotional aggression: hurting a person’s sense of self-worth through constant criticism or nagging; belittling a person’s abilities; insulting or demeaning remarks; hurting a partner’s relationship with children; trying to prevent encounters with family and friends. There may be signs of emotional aggression in your relationship if your partner:
- Calls you names and insults you or constantly criticizes you;
- Doesn’t trust you, is jealous or acts possessive with you;
- Is trying to isolate you from your family or friends;
- Monitors where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with;
- Does not want you to go to work;
- Controls or denies you money;
- Punishes you with an emphatically cold attitude;
- Thinks you have to ask permission for everything;
- Threatens physical harm to you, your children, relatives, or pets;
- Humiliates you in every way.
Psychological aggression: intimidation to cause feelings of fear, threats to physically harm yourself, your partner or children, killing pets and damaging property, manipulation of the mind, forcing you to isolate yourself from friends, relatives, school and/or work.
Financial or economic aggression: creating or attempting to create financial dependency in someone through complete control of financial resources, denial of money, and/or prohibition of education or employment.
Physical aggression: causing (or attempting to cause) your partner pain, punching or kicking, burning, trying to grab roughly, pinching, pushing, slapping, pulling hair, biting, denying medical attention, forcing alcohol and/or drugs or using other physical force.
There may be signs of physical aggression in your relationship if your partner:
- Gets angry and damages things (throws objects, hits walls with his/her fist, kicks doors, etc.)
- Slaps, pushes, bites, kicks or chokes you;
- Leaves you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place;
- Drives like a madman to scare you;
- Threatens or hurts you with a weapon;
- Throws you out of the house;
- Keeps you locked up or prevents you from leaving your home;
- Prevents you from going to the police or seeking medical attention;
- Hurts your children;
- Uses physical force in an intimate situation.
- Sexual aggression: forcing you to participate in a sexual act against your partner’s will.
There may be signs of sexual aggression in your relationship if your partner:
- Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your relationships with other people;
- Wants you to dress sexually;
- Abuses you sexually or uses sexually suggestive slurs;
- Has ever forced you to have sexual intercourse or perform acts of a sexual nature;
- Has immobilized you during sexual intercourse;
- Demands to have sex when you are sick, tired, or after you have been beaten;
- Hurts you with a weapon or other object during intercourse;
- Involves other people in your sexual relationship;
- Does not take your opinion into account when it comes to sex.
- Stalking includes any pattern of behavior that does not have an adequate explanation and is intended to annoy, disturb or terrorize the victim. Typical forms of stalking include intrusive phone calls, unsolicited letters or gifts, stalking at work, home, and other places the victim regularly visits. Stalking usually develops incrementally.
Information for Victims of Abuse
- No one deserves to be abused. The abuse is not your fault. You are not alone!
- Contact the Emergency Stress Management Branch (ESMB) if you think you may be experiencing some form of aggression or fear for your own safety or the safety of your children.
- If English is not your first language, you can seek assistance from CPSS in a language you feel more comfortable speaking.
- You can also contact support organizations to find and contact the right entity for you (both in the U.S. and in other countries).
- Learn how to protect your privacy in the digital space.
What can you do to help a victim of domestic violence?
- Listen to the survivor and show that you believe them so they don’t feel alone.
- Suggest that he or she seek help from a confidential hotline.
- Tell them you are worried, support them, advise them where to go for help.
- If you have not been contacted directly, but you have reason to believe that your colleague(s) may be in an abusive relationship, contact your organization’s staff psychologist or the Office of the Ombudsman.
Note: Keep in mind that a victim of violence often does not get closure on the first try in an abusive relationship.
Information for an abusive partner : how do you know if you are the abuser?
If you recognize that you are mistreating your partner, there may be sources of support in your environment that can help you end the aggression. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has many helpful resources. This hotline is for the United States, but no matter where you live, it can provide helpful information and advice.
How to get help?
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).
If you are being abused by your partner, know there is nothing you have done or are doing to cause the abuse. It is solely the choice of the abuser to abuse. It may seem impossible to escape your abuser, change your circumstances, or find the help you need, but it is possible. However, you know your abuser best, so think carefully through your situation and circumstances and do what is the best for you.
You should be aware that domestic violence is not only against the United Nations Code of Conduct, but may also subject you to criminal prosecution under the laws of the country in which you are serving.
Read also our article Domestic Violence Story: I Blame Myself For The Wrong Choice Of Partner
Read also our article 6 Signs Your Spouse Could Be Cheating