About Domestic Violence

Three friends having a serious conversation

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that one person in a relationship uses to gain power and control over the other. Abuse is not caused by anger, mental problems, alcohol or other drugs, or other common excuses. It is caused by one person’s belief that they have the right to control their partner.

A few of the most common ways abusers control their partners

  • Isolation from friends and families
  • Emotional abuse
  • Using children
  • Dominating finances and family resources
  • Physical and/or sexual assault

Who are victims?

Anybody can be a victim—rich or poor, any race, age, or religion; high school drop-out or Ph.D. Studies have shown no characteristic link between personality type and being a victim. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, help is available.

Who are abusers?

Like victims, domestic violence abusers come from all backgrounds. However, abusers do share some characteristics in that they tend to justify their abusive behaviors, fail to take responsibility for the abuse, and use similar tactics to gain and maintain power and control over their partners.

Abusers typically present a different personality outside of their relationship than they do to their intimate partner, which complicates victims’ ability to describe their experience and seek assistance.

To help a friend

  • Listen to their story and believe them.
  • Hold what you are told in confidence.
  • Encourage your friend to think about safety. Help your friend make concrete plans that deal with the most likely “what ifs.”
  • Reach out to a local domestic violence program.

Learn more

There is much information about domestic violence and help that is available. Search our resource library and project pages for topics that concern you.