What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior exhibited by one person towards another between whom there is a relationship. Domestic violence is characterized by the misuse of power and control. It includes physical, emotional, psychological, verbal, sexual, and economic abuse. Legally, domestic violence includes a broad spectrum of relationships – including violence between siblings, children and parents, roommates, caretakers, etc.
Domestic violence is not a “momentary loss of temper,” but an ongoing technique used by the batterer to enforce control through the use of fear. The batterer makes a conscious decision.
Whom Does Domestic Violence Affect?
- One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
- One in three pregnant women will experience domestic violence, and 25% - 45% of all women who are battered are battered during pregnancy.
- On average, a woman will attempt to leave her batterer 5-7 times.
- The majority (85%) of victims of domestic violence are female.
- In the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department receives more than 31,000 calls every year – 1 call every 17 minutes.
- Nationally, one in ten calls made to alert police of domestic violence is placed by a child in the home.
- The Center for Disease Control found that the cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $5.8 billion each year.
- Witnessing violence between one’s parents or caretakers is the strongest risk factor of transmitting violent behavior from one generation to the next. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
- Domestic violence affects all socio-economic strata, but disproportionately impacts those with fewer personal resources and fewer options for escaping. One survey found that “74% of survivors stayed with an abuser longer due to financial issues.”
Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?
The most dangerous period occurs when a victim prepares to leave because the batterer feels a loss of power and control. It is important to never advise a victim to “just leave.” She understands the relationship and the abuser more than anyone else. She might be afraid of repercussions from contacting law enforcement.
To help a friend or family member in an abusive relationship, refer them to a confidential hotline, like My Sister’s Place (MSP) and be supportive of their decision. MSP’s Free and Confidential 24-Hour Hotline: 202-749-8000