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Learn About Domestic Violence

What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence and sexual abuse are prevalent crimes that can sometimes be life-threatening but are always traumatic to those who survive them. Anyone, regardless of their age, gender, race, economic status or religion can find themselves in an abusive relationship.

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior that can be physical, emotional, economic, stalking and harassment, or sexual in nature.

Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault.

If you believe you know someone who is experiencing abuse, listen and provide non-judgmental support. Each survivor of abuse is on their own journey and will be most receptive to outside help at a time unique to them. Your best option is to remain close to them, keeping the lines of communication open, and if you witness any direct threat of violence, contact the authorities immediately. Documenting the pattern of abuse is key post separation.

Why do victims sometimes return to or stay with abusers?

The question is not “Why doesn’t the victim just leave?” The better question is “Why does the abuser choose to abuse?”

Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence.

Additional barriers to escaping a violent relationship include:

  • Abusive partners work very hard to keep victims trapped in the relationship. They may try to isolate the victim from friends and family, thereby reducing the people and places where the survivor can go for support.
  • The fear that the abuser’s actions will become more violent and may become lethal if the victim attempts to leave.
  • Through “gaslighting,” abusive partners cause victims to feel like they are responsible for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse.
  • Fear that homelessness may be their only option if they leave.
  • Fear of losing custody of any children if they leave or divorce their abuser or fear the abuser will hurt, or even kill, their children.
  • Lack of means to support themselves and/or their children financially or lack of access to cash, bank accounts, or assets.

*Adapted from National Network to End Domestic Violence and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Teen Dating Violence

When it comes to domestic abuse and unhealthy relationships, teens are especially at risk.

  • Roughly 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the U.S. admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they are romantically involved with.[1]
  • Teens who suffer dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior.[2]
  • 1 in 3 young people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. [3]/sup>
  • 33% of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse.[4]
  • In the U.S., 25% of high school girls have been abused physically or sexually. Teen girls who are abused this way are 6 times more likely to become pregnant or contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI).[5]
  • Females between the ages of 16 and 24 are roughly 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner.[6]
  • 8 States in the U.S. do not consider a violent dating relationship domestic abuse. Therefore, adolescents, teens, and 20-somethings are unable to apply for a restraining order for protection from the abuser.[7]
  • Violent behavior often begins between 6th and 12th grade. 72% of 13 and 14-year-olds are “dating.”[8]
  • 50% of young people who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse will attempt to commit suicide.[9]
  • Only 1/3 of the teens who were involved in an abusive relationship confided in someone about the violence.[10]
  • Teens who have been abused hesitate to seek help because they do not want to expose themselves or are unaware of the laws surrounding domestic violence.[11]

*Adapted from DoSomething.org


On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.

1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

1 in 5 women and 1 in 38 men have experienced rape in her or his lifetime.

1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.

Children and Domestic Violence

1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.


Nationwide, an average of 3 women are killed by a current or former intimate partner every day.

The presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation increases the risk of homicide by 500%

*Sourced from from National Network to End Domestic Violence and National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Support Is Available

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).  

SMS: Text START to 88788

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