FAQ about Domestic Abuse

  1. What is Domestic Abuse/Domestic Violence/Intimate Partner Violence?
  • Domestic Abuse is an ongoing, cyclical pattern of coercive control in a relationship.
  • Domestic Abuse is one person manipulating and controlling the other in an intimate relationship.
  • Domestic Abuse is a crime
  • Domestic Abuse includes 6 defined types of abuse: Verbal, Emotional, Financial, Spiritual, Sexual and Physical abuse.

2. Who are the victims of Domestic Abuse?

  • ANYONE can be a victim!
  • Victims are of all economic classes, races, sexual identities, ages, religions and education.
  • 85% of domestic abuse victims are women. (Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief, Intimate Partner Violence, 1993-2001, February 2003)
  • One woman is beaten by her husband or partner every 15 seconds in the US. (Uniform Crime Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991).
  • 15% of domestic abuse victims are men. (NDVH)
  • 2 in 5 bisexual or gay men are victims of domestic abuse in their lifetimes. (NCADV)
  • Women with Disabilities are 40% more likely to be victims of domestic abuse.
  • 10,000,000 Children are exposed to domestic abuse every year.(American Psychological Assoc.)

3. Is Domestic Abuse really a very serious issue in the USA?


  • The number of American troops killed in Afghanistan and Iraq between 2001 and 2012 was 6,488. The number of American women who were murdered by current or ex male partners during that time was 11,766. That’s nearly double the amount of casualties lost during war. (FBI)
  • Every 60 seconds 20 people are victims of domestic abuse. (NCADV)
  • Domestic abuse accounts for 15% of all violent crimes in the US (US Dept. of Justice)
  • $5.8 Billion a year is spent on Domestic Abuse health related costs; 4.1 billion are direct medical and mental health costs. (domestic shelters org)
  • 1300 deaths per year are caused by Domestic abuse. (clicktoempower.org)

4. Why do Victims Stay?

  • Love Abusers are not hurtful all the time. Many abusers  have a likable and loving side. Many victims think  that they can change the abuser’s behavior.
  • Fear Many abusers threaten to hurt or kill themselves  if their victim decides to leave. Abusers often threaten that the violence will get worse if the partner decides to leave.
  • Doubt It’s not always easy for a victim to admit that the relationship is abusive. If the victim’s partner is especially popular at school or in the community, the victim may be concerned about losing social status.
  • Embarrassment Victims can be afraid of an “I told you so” response from those who have tried to help in the past.
  • Hope for Change Victims often believe that the abuser will return to the person he was at the beginning of the relationship— the person she fell in love with.
  • Isolation As a tactic of the abuse, the abuser is likely to have made it difficult for the victim to access resources  and supportive people.
  • Societal Denial Abusers often have a public face that is charming and charismatic; it is difficult for those who only know  that side to believe that abuse is taking place.
  • Societal Expectations The victim may see ending the relationship as a failure and may also fear social stigma. The victim may not fit stereotypes about victims of domestic abuse.
  • Lack of Resources It may be difficult or impossible for the victim to contact supportive people, and she may not have money or any way to find housing.
  • Economic Autonomy The number one indicator that a victim will be able to leave is economic stability outside of the relationship.
  • Children The victim may believe that it is better for a child if the parents are together. The victim may not want to disrupt childcare or schooling arrangements. (Adapted from Centre County Women’s  Resource Center)
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5. What about the children? Shouldn’t they have both parents?

  • 15.5 million U.S. children live in families in which partner violence occurred at least once in the past year, and seven million children live in families in which severe partner violence occurred. (McDonald, R., Jouriles, E.N., Ramisetty-Mikler, S., and Caetano, R. (2006) Estimating the number of American children living in partner-violent families. Journal of Family Psychology 20(1): 137-142.)
  • Children who experience childhood trauma,  including witnessing incidents of domestic violence, are at a greater risk of having serious adult health problems including tobacco use, substance abuse, obesity, cancer, heart disease, depression and a higher risk for unintended pregnancy. (Felitti, V.J., et al. (1998). Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study. American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 14(4): 248-58. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic, San Diego, CA. Available at http://www.cdc.gov/ NCCDPHP/ACE/index.htm)
  • Having a 1 parent home, in most cases of domestic abuse, is much healthier and safer then living in a violent home.
  • Children who are living in an abusive home are more likely to be abused themselves. Studies show that children are physically abused in approximately half the families where the mother is a known victim of domestic assault. Similarly, the mother is being battered in approximately half the families where her child is a known victim of physical abuse. (Edleson, J.L. (1999). The Overlap Between Child Maltreatment and Woman Abuse. National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women. Available at http://new.nawnet.org/category/Main_Doc. php?docid=389)

6. Who are abusers? How can we tell who an abuser is?

  • Abusers come from all walks of life. Much like victims, you cannot identify an abuser by where he lives,  or what he does for a living. Abusers are unemployed workers, farmers, computer experts, car salesmen, university professors, truck drivers, psychiatrists,  and teachers—everyone. Abusers are therefore not easy to identify. (Domestic Violence Tool Kit)
  • Signs of an abuser: Jealousy At the beginning of a relationship, an abuser  will say that jealousy is a sign of love.
  • Controlling Behavior The abuser is likely to disguise or excuse  controlling behavior.
  • Quick Involvement Many victims of abuse dated or knew their abuser for less than six months before they became engaged  or started living together.
  •   Unrealistic Expectations The abuser may expect the victim to be the perfect spouse/partner, parent, lover, and friend.  He depends on the victim for all his needs, and may also state that he can fulfill all of the victim’s needs  for a lover, friend, and companion.
  • Isolation The abuser may try to curtail the victim’s social interaction and may prevent her from going to work  or class or being with friends and family.
  • Blame-Shifting for Problems Very rarely will an abuser accept responsibility for any problem or negative situation.
  • Verbal Abuse The abuser may say things that are meant to be cruel, hurtful, and degrading, either in public or in private. He may also downplay the victim’s accomplishments.
  • Any Force During an Argument An abuser may physically restrain the victim from leaving the room, lash out at the victim with his/her hand or another object, pin the victim against a wall  or shout “right in her face.”  (Adapted from Centre County Women’s  Resource Center)
  • domestic-violence-costs-society.jpg

7. Is it possible for Abusers to Change?

  • Yes, but they must make the choice to change.   
  • It’s not easy for an abuser to stop abusive behavior, and it requires a serious decision to change.  The abuser has had all of the power in a relationship, it’s difficult to change to a healthy relationship with equal power and compromises. 
  • Sometimes an abuser stops the physical violence, but continues to employ other forms of abuse – emotional, sexual, or financial.  Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.
  • God is in the business of changing hearts. There are certain signs we can look for that will indicate TRUE change.

8. What are the signs of TRUE change from an abuser?

  • Step Outline:
    1. First the abuser must admit that they are abusive
    2. The abuser must enroll in a 24 month recovery program and attend all sessions
      without missing more than 3 sessions for the entire 24 month period
    3. Then there must be an attitude of humbleness and forgiveness (Moral Inventory
      of abusive behaviors and effects on others)
    4. There must be a decision made – a desire for change
    5. Must be ready to remove defects and WORK the recovery steps
    6. There must be a removal from the environment where their abusive behavior toward
      others was perpetrated and NO contact for at least six months to the
      victims so the abuser can focus on his/her own recovery.
    7. Counseling from a professional experienced in abuse is sought and attained
    8. At least one year minimum apart from victim/s is necessary to show that there
      is a pattern of change which is based on truth and not manipulation
    9. Forgiveness must be asked for humbly and without justifications
    10. Documented recovery reports made to victim/s from abuse counselor and therapist every
      month or more often if necessary
    11. Contact with victims must be only as victims allows and desires – not as abuser
    12. If the current relationship falls apart the abuser must notify a new relationship
      partner that they have a past history of abuse for which they are seeking
    13. If the abuser does not have steady employment they must attain steady employment
      as part of the “responsibility” of change.
    14. All drugs and alcohol use must stop
    15. Take a psychological evaluation to rule out mental illness

    Once these steps have been followed and professionals have made documentation on the progress of recovery of the individual in domestic abuse, then the steps to repairing a relationship and family system can begin to be taken. (Dr. Kathy Mathis)



  • 9. It’s better in the church isn’t it?
  • Studies show that religious women often stay years longer in abusive relationships then nonreligious women (Barbara Roberts)
  • Many churches hold unbiblical positions in regard to submission, male headship and divorce. Often these teaching heap blame and shame on the victim and silence her.
  • Most pastors are not adequately trained for specific Domestic Abuse counseling
  • 65% of pastors have spoken 1 or less times on the issues domestic abuse (IMA World Health Report)
  •  An overwhelming majority of the faith leaders surveyed (74%) underestimate the level of sexual and domestic violence experienced within their congregations (Lifewayresearch)
  •  A large majority (62%) of pastors surveyed say they have responded to sexual or domestic violence by providing couples or marriage counseling. This is considered a potentially dangerous or even potentially lethal response (Lifewayresearch)


  • What resources are there for victims?
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline  Call 24/7 1-800-799-7233
    1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing)
  • Local YWCA or YWCA.org
  • DomesticShelters.org
  • ACOG Violence Against Women Department
    The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has developed tools to screen patients for intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
    Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
    ATASK primarily serves Asian families and individuals in Massachusetts and New England who suffer from or are at risk of suffering from domestic violence.

    Battered Women’s Justice Project
    BWJP offers training, technical assistance and consultation on the most promising practices of the criminal and civil justice systems in addressing domestic violence.

    Break the Cycle
    Break the Cycle provides tools and resources to prevent and end dating abuse.

    Casa de Esperanza
    Casa de Esperanza’s mission is to mobilize Latinas and Latino communities to end domestic violence.

    Center on Domestic Violence: University of Colorado Denver
    Within the university, their goal is to end domestic violence by fostering institutional and social change through leadership development, education, research and community collaboration.

    ChildHelp runs the National Child Abuse Helpline and they can be reached 24/7 at 1-800-422-4453. They talk to people of all ages who have experienced parental abuse.

    Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
    CAEPV is dedicated to reducing the costs and consequences of partner violence at work, and eliminating it altogether. Their site has info, materials and advice on everything from policies and programs to legal issues and legislation.

    FaithTrust Institute
    FaithTrust is a national, multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence. They provide communities and advocates with the tools and knowledge they need to address the religious and cultural issues related to abuse.

    Futures Without Violence
    Futures Without Violence has led the way and set the pace for ground-breaking education programs, national policy development, professional training programs,and public actions designed to end violence against women, children and families around the world.

    Health Cares About IPV
    This site created by Futures Without Violence is an online toolkit with resources for resources for all health providers (not just physicians), as well as advocates.

    HopeLine from Verizon Wireless
    HopeLine is a collection of no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories turned them into support for domestic violence organizations nationwide.

    Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
    IDVAAC is an organization focused on the unique circumstances of African Americans as they face issues related to domestic violence, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder maltreatment and community violence.

    Institute for Law and Justice
    ILJ is a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to consulting, research, evaluation and training in criminal justice.

    Jane Doe Inc.
    Offering unparalleled leadership in Massachusetts, JDI is changing the way society views and reacts to sexual and domestic violence in ways that make communities safer.

    Joyful Heart Foundation
    JHF was founded by Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay with the intention of helping sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives.

    Legal Momentum
    Legal Momentum advances and protects the rights of women and girls though education, litigation and public policy. Started in 1970, they are the oldest organization of their kind.

    Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women
    The LRC works specifically to obtain legal representation for domestic violence survivors in interstate custody cases and to provide technical assistance to domestic violence victim advocates and attorneys in such cases.

    Legal Services Corporation
    Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans.

    A project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle, loveisrespect is the ultimate resource fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships, and educating about teen dating violence.

    The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
    MINCAVA is considered a leader in innovative violence-related education, research and Internet publishing and now coordinates four nationally and internationally renowned projects.

    National Adult Protective Services Association
    Formed in 1989, the goal of NAPSA is to provide Adult Protective Services (APS) programs a forum for sharing information, solving problems, and improving the quality of services for victims of elder and vulnerable adult mistreatment.

    National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
    NCDBW works with battered women who have been arrested and are facing trial, as well as those who are serving prison sentences.

    National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
    NCDSV helps people who work with victims and perpetrators: law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, health care professionals, advocates and service providers, counselors, and social workers. They also work with local, state and federal agencies, educators, media, policymakers and more.

    The National Center for Victims of Crime
    They advocate for victims’ rights, train professionals who work with victims, and serve as a trusted source of information on victims’ issues. They’re the most comprehensive national resource committed to advancing victims’ rights and helping victims of crime rebuild their lives.

    National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
    NIPNLG provides legal and technical support to immigrant communities, legal practitioners and all advocates seeking to advance the rights of noncitizens.

    National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women
    The National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women seeks to challenge and eliminate all forms of oppression and discrimination against immigrant women facing violence by empowering them to build better lives of their choice.

    National Runaway Safeline
    The mission of NRS is to help keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.

    The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance; to assist the public in addressing the issue; and to support those impacted by domestic violence.

    National Network to End Domestic Violence
    NNEDV offers a range of programs and initiatives to address the complex causes and far-reaching consequences of domestic violence. Through cross-sector collaborations and corporate partnerships, they give support to victims of domestic violence who are escaping abusive relationships.

    National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
    NRCDV engages, informs and supports systems, organizations, communities and individuals to build their capacity to effectively address domestic violence and intersecting issues.

    National Sexual Violence Resource Center
    NSVRC’s mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
    If you’re having thoughts of suicide or know someone who is, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 by phone at 1-800-273-8255 and by chat.

    NO MORE is a new unifying symbol designed to galvanize greater awareness and action to end domestic violence and sexual assault.  NO MORE is supported by major organizations working to address these urgent issues.

    National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center
    Sponsored by the CDC, NVAWPRC does research to help increase the understanding of violence against women.

    Peace Over Violence
    Peace Over Violence is a sexual and domestic violence, stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center headquartered in LA and dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.

    Polaris Project
    The Polaris Project is the leader in the global movement to eradicate modern slavery. They run the National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline at 1-888-373-7888.

    Prevent Connect
    Prevent Connect is a national project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault with funding from the CDC. Their goal is to advance the primary prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence by building a community of practice among people who are engaged in such efforts.

    Sojourner Center
    As one of the nation’s largest domestic violence shelters since 1977, the Sojourner Center is a tireless advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors.

    Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards
    The Women’s Opportunity Awards program assists women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. Each year, over $1.5 million in education grants are awarded to over 1,000 women, many of whom have overcome enormous obstacles, including domestic violence.

    US Department of Housing and Urban Development
    HUD can assist in locating housing for low-income tenants, including senior citizens and people with disabilities.

    US Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women | Domestic Violence State Coalitions
    A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, they provide federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

    The goal of VAWnet, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, is to use electronic communication technology to enhance efforts to prevent violence against women and intervene more effectively when it occurs. 

    A project of NNEDV, WomensLaw was launched to provide state-specific legal information and resources for survivors of domestic violence. They also provide referrals, detailed protective/restraining order information, and more, state by state.



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