Domestic Violence: Everything you need to know

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Man using hand to physically abuse a woman


Domestic Violence subject has been covered extensively and concisely in this article where you will get all the information that you will need about Domestic Violence - its causes, symptoms, how to identify an abuser, the cycle of abuse, how to get out of an abusive relationship safely and much more. This is your all you need to know guide about Domestic Violence with authentic and high quality citations




First let's look at the definition of Domestic Violence. It is referred by many different names - a DV, wife bashing or wife beating, emotional abuse, abusive relationship, domestic battery, verbal abuse etc.

Oxford dictionary:


“violent or aggressive behaviour within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.”

Merriam-webster Dictionary:


“violent or abusive behavior directed by one family or household member against another”

Cambridge Dictionary:


“the situation in which someone you live with attacks you and tries to hurt you”


“acts of violence or abuse against a person living in one's household, especially a member of one's immediate family.”

Collins Dictionary


“Domestic violence is violence that takes place in the home, especially by one person against their partner.”


Definition: Domestic Battery


A person commits domestic battery if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means:


  1. causes bodily harm to any family or household member;
  2. makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member.


Just the term “Battery” is more general and is defined as follows:


“any unlawful and or unwanted touching of the person (including sexual contact) of another by the aggressor, or by a substance put in motion by him.”


Why domestic violence happens


According to a well reputed website on psychology[1], it is a psychological issue between partners and there are two emotions that an abuser has

  1. Inner critical voice - destructive thoughts like 
    1. “i should control her to be man enough”
    2. “S/he is not taking you seriously and thinks you are a fool”.
    3. “S/he is making fun of you. Who does s/he think s/he is?”
    4. “S/he’s probably cheating. You are such a fool”
  2. Need for power and absolute control [2]
  3. Using violence to save a relationship[3]
  4. Family run - Many abusers have seen (or experienced) abuse in/from their own families.
  5. Alcohol and drugs escalate the abuse.


Symptoms of Abusive relationship


Here is how you can identify an abuse victim


  • Fear of partner
  • Feeling of not able to do anything right for the partner
  • Anxious for pleasing the partner
  • Report constantly where they are and what they are up to
  • Talking about partners possessiveness, jealousy and anger
  • Anger
  • Feeling trapped
  • Confusion
  • Blaming themselves - self-loathing “I deserve to be mistreated”
  • Feeling intimidated
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feeling belittled
  • Helplessness and emotionally numb
  • Desperation
  • Frequent injuries claimed to be “accidents”
  • Not showing up at gatherings without explanation
  • Suicidal


How to identify an Abuser


Image of family in silhouette and words depicting what is a normal happy family and what are the attributes of a physically and emotionally abusive home


  • Enormous ego and sense of entitlement
  • Need for absolute control
  • Instructing the partner who they can meet and who they can’t
  • Being yelled at.
  • Partner blames their childhood, kids, stressful day or the victim itself for their abusive behavior
  • Treating you as a sex object
  • Bad unpredictable temper
  • Physical abuse or threatening to hurt you or your children
  • Threaten to commit suicide if you plan to leave
  • Forced sex
  • Act excessively possessive and jealous
  • Keep you from seeing your family
  • Restriction on accessing your phone and keeping count of your expenses for every penny
  • Emotional and verbal assault


How to identify an Emotional and Verbal abuser


This is what an emotional and a verbal abuser does to make you feel powerless by absolutely killing your self-worth.


  • Yelling
  • Name-calling
  • Shaming - making you feel defective or lacking something
  • Blaming
  • Controlling behavior
  • Isolating you from outside world
  • Intimidation - threatening looks, smashing things, showing their weapons
  • Limited access to money, phone and car
  • Not providing basic necessities (food, clothing, shelter, medical care)
  • Stealing your assets

How domestic abusers gain control

Domestically Violent man pulling the strings to a puppet depicting a controlling man who is a physical or verbal abuser


An abuser uses shame, guilt, fear and intimidation to completely wear a person down and then control the individual.


The cycle of Domestic Abuse violence


The cycle of Domestic Violence and Abuse, Abuse phase, Guilt Phase, Sorry Phase, Honeymoon Phase, Sorry Phase. Cycle of Violence is described in the image.


Here is the cycle of domestic violence wheel.

  1. The Abuse phase - Violence happens

  2. The Guilt phase - “You pushed me. It’s your fault.”

  3. The Sorry phase - “It won’t happen again I’m so sorry”

  4. Honeymoon phase - “See we are doing well. No problems.”

  5. Fantasy phase - “remembering the last abuse and planning for the next by finding something wrong you did”

  6. The Abuse phase - Violence happens


Why domestic violence victims dont leave


Here are the reasons why many DV cases go unreported and why the victims don’t leave easily.


  • It is easier said than done. Ending any relationship is never easy. 
  • Coupled with the Honeymoon phase in the cycle of abuse, things get hopeful for a fix and gets even more confusing in making that final decision to leave.
  • More reasons for delay are: isolated from the outside world, no self-worth left (“who else would want to be with me”), depression, economic dependence and threat of (more) violence.
  • In majority of cases the victim stays because of economic reasons


How to get out of an Abusive relationship


  • Remember that you are not the reason if anyone is mistreating you or being abusive.
  • Respect is everyone's right and you have it too. Everyone deserves a safe and happy life and you can achieve it too if you wish.
  • Even if you are absolutely torn down and can’t imagine deserving respect and safety, do it for your children.
  • There are millions of people like you who suffer like you do. You are not alone.
  • Understand that trying to save a relationship may end with the same cycle of abuse throughout your life. Look at Domestic Abuse as what it is - a psychological and emotional problem in some human beings.
  • Remember that the abuse happens to you because your partner is no longer worried that you can leave. They have got you under their thumb.
  • Leaving a dangerous place for yourself and your children is better than worrying about what will happen after you leave. Do not let the worry of the future keep you and your children in a dangerous environment that can be life threatening to you and your kids.
  • Make an escape plan and rehearse it with your kids. Keep your car unlocked, fueled up and ready. Have your important documents, cash and important items already ready and kept at some other place so you can leave in an instant when required.
  • Abusers like to invade your privacy by watching your search history, call logs and chats. So cover your tracks. You may use a neighbors phone or a public pay phone where emergency numbers are usually toll-free. Locate one that's closest to your house. Even if you have left, the abuser may succeed in tracking you down when the bill comes and they see the numbers that you may have contacted.


Protection after leaving the abuser


  • Keep your location a secret.
  • Do not use your home address for mail. Use a P.O. Box.
  • Terminate your old bank accounts. Open an account in a different bank.
  • Call the police as a reflex action if you see your abuser anywhere.
  • Avoid staying in the same area as the abuser. If you do, change your routine.


Getting over an Abusive relationship


  • The trauma you have gone through is deep. Get counselling.
  • Do not rush into a new relationship. Take the time to learn from the previous relationship and how you got into it in the first place. This is an important step to make sure you don’t run into an abusive relationship ever again.


Decided to stay in an abusive relationship - Do this


  • Contact the local domestic helpline. They will help you in so many ways (emotional support, a very safe emergency housing for you and your kids etc.)
  • Isolate your daily abuse and negative vibes from affecting your self-worth. Look at yourself kindly and positively.


Can a Domestic Abuser change and is there hope


  • Hope can only be present and you may decide to stay if your partner takes full responsibility and goes to seek professional help and stops blaming you.
  • Even if your partner goes to counselling, it does not guarantee an end to their abusive behavior. Most abusers who undergo therapy tend to remain violent.
  • If you see that your partner has stopped undervaluing the abuse or blaming others for the actions - it is a good sign. Do not get yourself confused with little improvements though; leave if you see tension building up again that could lead to the next Abuse phase.
  • If he keeps denying the seriousness of the problem, blames others or yourself, pressures you to undergo counselling as well, claims not to be able to change unless you stay and support him, tries to gain sympathy - know that your abuser is NOT changing.


Why an abuser does not abuse everyone


  • Domestic abusers do not abuse everyone who gives them grief. They generally pick the ones closest to them
  • They are in control of their behavior. They like to abuse only when no one’s watching. 


How to prevent domestic violence


  • Take 100% responsibility for your actions.
  • Identify the moment when you are getting angry at your partner, and realize that the emotion is not going to kill you.
  • Listen to your inner critical voice that tells you things that are more than the actual facts - the fake thoughts about your partner that you cannot prove but imagine.
  • No one is perfect - forgive yourself and others when your anger peeks.


What to do if attacked by an abuser



  • Sense the tension and attack before it happens and plan effective excuses to leave at different times of the day.
  • Note the safe and not-so-safe areas of the house. Go to a room with a door or window, and avoid the kitchen or rooms where a weapon might be present.
  • Have a secret code word, statement or a signal to alert your children and neighbors that you are in trouble and they should call the police.


Domestic Violence Statistics


  • A staggering 90% of women in Pakistan experience some form of mistreatment in their family [11]
  • In India, the root cause for DV is dowry in most cases.
  • In Africa, Ethipian women are the most abused [12]
  • In Egypt, 80% of rural women experience physical abuse and is justified if the women refused to have sex with her husband.
  • 4000 women die every year due to domestic violence
  • 3 women are killed every day by their partner
  • “Violence against women and girls is a problem of pandemic proportions. At least one out of every three women around the world has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime with the abuser usually someone known to her” - Kofi Annan, Secretary General of UN
  • It is estimated that more than 10 million people experience domestic violence in the U.S. each year.[5]
  • Studies in the U.S show that domestic violence is more common in the families of police officers compared to other families. [6] The existence of domestic violence in police officers raises the question of their effective actions when a domestic violence case is reported to them.
  • DV is a serious problem in Baltic states of the EU.
  • 1.3 million women and 835,000 men report physical abuse in the U.S annually [7]
  • In Russia, one in 4 families experience DV [8]. DV is not categorised as a crime in itself, but is reported as an assault in serious injury cases or in cases of death.
  • In Turkey, a staggering 42% of women over the age of 15 experience DV [9]


When does domestic violence cases increase


  • When the economy is down, domestic violence increases mainly due to economic stress of households.
  • When families spend more time together like during summer vacations, Christmas etc.


Reason of increase in DV during Coronavirus


As the new coronavirus pandemic has taken over the whole world, there is a new virus surging - domestic violence. We look at this unusual increase in domestic violence during home quarantine, its causes and how to prevent it.


Not only during coronavirus, it has been a norm that domestic violence cases seem to increase even during vacations, christmas and other home gathering times when people spend more time with the family.


However, this is a catch 22. When you expose yourself more to something evil, more evil is witnessed by you. If you recognize that one of your acquaintances is toxic, and start limiting the contact, you will be left with experiencing less negativity and toxicity from that person. 


The same goes for an abusive relationship. The reports do not really clarify how many among these domestic abuse cases happened for the first time during the coronavirus lockdowns around the world.


All we can safely assume is that it does not necessitate that the abuse happened just due to coronavirus - but it used to happen earlier as well - however not that frequently. With a pandemic the forces people to stay at home or during vacations where families tend to spend more time together - the victim is just exposed to the abuser more compared to any other time, and hence the chances of increase in domestic violence cases.


How to talk to a Domestic Abuse victim


According to the NY Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence [4],

  • Share your concern. Don’t think it's not your business or thinking that you might have gotten it all wrong.
  • Talk to them alone.
  • Talk about the symptoms of abuse that you have seen in them.
  • Make them comfortable that it will remain a secret between you two.
  • Let them know you are there to help if they want to share.
  • Do not blame them.
  • Don’t give advice but give them help.


Female abusers in Domestic Violence


While the majority of the cases reported are of female victims, there are cases where even men are abused by females. One such theory of less cases against male abuse being reported is attributed to the fact that the man will be considered “less manly” and a “chicken” if they were to report being abused by their wife and the social pressure might be a factor of not getting real statistics on male victims of domestic abuse.


Domestic violence where there are male victims - the abuse is mainly of a verbal and emotional abuse practiced by their female partner.


Effects on victims


  • Low self-worth
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Helplessness
  • Loneliness
  • Societal pressure and humiliation if the case goes to trial.


Effects on Children


  • Life threat to the partner and their children
  • Potential of children to learn domestic violence to be acceptable
  • Financial uncertainty and well being of children
  • Depression, fear and anxiety developed in children
  • Children may become addicted to drugs and/or alcohol as a means to cope with the trauma


When is domestic violence awareness month

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which was started by NCADV (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence) in 1981 as a Day of Unity to connect battered women’s advocates across the country and it was grown into an awareness month for Domestic Violence. [14]


Why awareness is important


  • One study found that most of the Bedouin women of Israel experience DV and have accepted it as a decree of God while blaming themselves as the cause of it. Many of them had no clue about the protection laws available for them that they can practice and a staggering 60% of these women did not know what is a restraining order. [10]
  • Just like any mental trauma, the victims of domestic violence feel helpless and hopeless - thinking everything is happening to them because they deserve it.
  • They have this thought that they are the only ones facing this issue while there are millions of others who are in the same situation as theirs.
  • The lack of awareness sometimes runs so deep that people do not even remember the term “Domestic Violence” and forget to realize that what they have been facing is just that - an emotional, verbal and/or physical abuse
  • Even if the victims do realize to a certain extent that they deserve better, they are not aware of the tremendous amount of help available from the government, or how valuable and helpful a friend can be that can change their life completely - if they but knew.


When did domestic violence become a crime


In 1993, in Vienna at the World conference on Human Rights.


Is verbal abuse seen as domestic violence


Domestic Violence is not just physical abuse. An emotional or verbal abuse is also a part of Domestic Violence.


How much is domestic violence bail


Domestic Violence is a serious crime and bail costs can go as high as $50,000. If the person is seriously injured, it may even be categorized as a non-bailable offence.


Where to complaint against Domestic Violence


  • For immediate action, call your local police.
  • Find and contact the Domestic Violence cell of your state or country.
  • Find and contact the non-profit Domestic Violence shelters for tips, safe accommodation and assistance on reporting and escape.



[1] - Psychology today - Why domestic violence occurs and how to stop it

[2] - Elmquist, JoAnna  et al. Motivations for intimate partner violence in men and women arrested for domestic violence and court referred to batterer intervention programs. Partner Abuse. 2014 Oct 1; 5(4): 359–374. doi:10.1891/1946-6560.5.4.359

[3] - Buss, D. M., & Shackelford, T. K. (1997). From vigilance to violence: Mate retention tactics in married couples. J Pers Soc Psychol. 1997 Feb;72(2):346-61. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.72.2.346

[4] - Domestic Violence: Finding safety and support

[5] - "National Statistics". NCADV. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Retrieved 5 October 2018.

[6] - Johnson, L. (20 May 1991). On the front lines: police stress and family well-being. Government Printing Office. pp. 32–48., Hearing Before the Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, U.S. House of Representatives, 102 Congress, First Session

[7] - "Full Report of the Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey | National Institute of Justice". Retrieved September 8, 2013.

[8] - "VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE RUSSIAN FEDERATION" (PDF). ANNA National Centre for the Prevention of Violence.

[9] - "Behind the veil". The Economist. May 12, 2011.

[10] - Khoury, Jack (April 30, 2012). "Study: Most Bedouin victims of domestic violence believe it's a 'decree from God' Israel News Broadcast". Haaretz. Retrieved September 8, 2013.

[11] - "PAKISTAN: Domestic violence endemic, but awareness slowly rising". IRIN UN. March 11, 2008.

[12] - "Africa | Ethiopian women are most abused". BBC News. October 11, 2006. Retrieved September 8, 2013.

[13] - (720 ILCS 5/12-3.2) (from Ch. 38, par. 12-3.2) Sec. 12-3.2. Domestic battery.

[14] - Social Media Toolkit for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, 2018


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