Dating or Domestic Violence Risk Reduction Strategies

What is Dating Violence or Domestic Violence?

  • Dating/Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner. Dating/Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure or wound someone.
  • Dating/Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, sexual orientation, social economics, education, age, religion, etc. Dating/Domestic violence can also affect family, friends, co-workers and members in the community, in addition to the victim and abuser. Domestic violence can occur regardless of the relationship status, including individuals who are dating, co-habitating, or married.


Dating/Domestic Violence:

  • Violence committed by a person who is or has been in a social relationship of a romantic or intimate nature with the victim is dating violence. The existence of such a relationship shall be determined based on a consideration of the following factors:
    • The length of the relationship
    • The type of relationship
    • The frequency of interaction between the persons involved in the relationship


Resource: U.S. Department of Justice – https//www.justice.gov/ovw/Dting-violence


Domestic Violence  

  • A pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
  • It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive
  • In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows
  • Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But, one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.


National Domestic Violence Hotline http://www.thehotline.org/is-this-abuse/abuse- defined/#tab-id-6  
National Center for Victims of Crime


Types of Dating/Domestic Violence:

  • Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent a partner from doing what they wish or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Abuse includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.


General Pattern of Behavior:

  • Tension Building: Relationship begins to get strained or tense between partners.
  • Explosion: Outburst that includes verbal, emotional, or physical abuse.
  • Honeymoon: Apologies where the abuser tries to re-connect with his/her partner by shifting the blame onto someone or something else.


Definitions of What Dating/Domestic Violence Looks Like

Any actions used for the intent of gaining power and control over a person:

    • Physical Abuse: any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause injury (i.e. grabbing in a way to inflict pain, hitting, shoving, strangling, kicking).
      • Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
      • Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
      • Hurting you with weapons
      • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
      • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
      • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
      • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)
    • Emotional Abuse: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, silent treatment, or stalking.
      • Calling you names, insulting you or constantly criticizing you
      • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive
      • Trying to isolate you from family or friends
      • Monitoring where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with
      • Demanding to know where you are every minute
      • Trapping you in your home or preventing you from leaving
      • Using weapons to threaten to hurt you
      • Punishing you by withholding affection
      • Threatening to hurt you, your family, or your pets
      • Damaging your property when they’re angry (throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.)
      • Humiliating you in any way
      • Blaming you for the abuse
      • Accusing you of cheating and being often jealous of your outside relationships
      • Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for their behavior
      • Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
      • Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc, than you are
      • Attempting to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
      • Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them
    • Sexual Abuse & Coercion: any action that impacts the partner's ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstance which sexual activity occurs:
      • Sexual Abuse:
        • Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
        • Insulting you in sexual ways or calling you sexual names
        • Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
        • Holding you down during sex
        • Demanding sex when you’re sick, tired or after hurting you
        • Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
        • Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
        • Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
        • Forcing you to watch pornography
        • Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
      • Sexual Coercion: Sexual coercion lies on the ‘continuum’ of sexually aggressive behavior. It can vary from being egged on and persuaded, to being forced to have contact. It can be verbal and emotional, in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. Some examples of the actions of an abusive partner:
        • Making you feel like you owe them an explanation. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
        • Giving you drugs and alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
        • Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me,” “If I don’t get sex from you I’ll get it somewhere else”
        • Reacting negatively with sadness, anger or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to something
        • Continuing to pressure you after you say no
        • Making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
        • Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
    • Reproductive Coercion: a form of power and control where one partner strips the other of the ability to control their own reproductive system. It is sometimes difficult to identify this coercion because other forms of abuse are often occurring simultaneously. Reproduction coercion can be exerted in many ways:
      • Refusing to use reproductive barriers, or other type of birth control
      • Breaking or removing a sexual barrier or condom during intercourse
      • Lying about their methods of birth control (ex. lying about having a vasectomy, lying about being on the pill)
      • Refusing to “pull out” if that is the agreed upon method of prevention of pregnancy
      • Forcing you to not use any reproductive barriers or birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)
      • Removing birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)
      • Sabotaging reproductive barriers or birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)
      • Withholding finances needed to purchase reproductive barriers birth control
      • Monitoring your menstrual cycles
      • Forcing pregnancy and not supporting your decision about when or if you want to have children
      • Forcing or threatening you or acting violent if you don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy
      • Reproductive coercion can also come in the form of pressure, guilt and shame from an abusive partner. Some examples are if your abusive partner is constantly talking about having children or making you feel guilty for not having or wanting children with them — especially if you already have kids with someone else.
    • Financial Abuse: is when an abusive partner extends their power and control into the area of finances. This abuse can take different forms, including an abusive partner:

      • Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
      • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
      • Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
      • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
      • Maxing out credit cards in your name without permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
      • Stealing money from you, your family and/or friends
      • Using funds from savings accounts without your permission
      • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
      • Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
      • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, medical care and/or medicine
    • Digital Abuse: is the use of technologies such as texting and social networking to bully, harass, stalk or intimidate a partner. Often this behavior is a form of verbal or emotional abuse perpetrated online. This abuse can take different forms, including an abusive partner who:

    • Tells you whom you can or can’t be friends with on Facebook and other sites.
    • Sends you negative, insulting or even threatening emails, Facebook messages, tweets, DMs or other messages online.
    • Uses sites like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and others to keep constant tabs on you.
    • Puts you down in their status updates.
    • Sends you unwanted, explicit pictures and demands you send some in return.
    • Pressures you to send explicit video.
    • Steals or insists to be given your passwords.
    • Constantly texts you and makes you feel like you can’t be separated from your phone for fear that you will be punished.
    • Looks through your phone frequently, checks up on your pictures, texts and outgoing calls.
    • Tags you unkindly in pictures on Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
    • You never deserve to be mistreated, online or off. Remember:
      • Your partner should respect your relationship boundaries.
      • It is ok to turn off your phone. You have the right to be alone and spend time with friends and family without your partner getting angry.
      • You do not have to text any pictures or statements that you are uncomfortable sending, especially nude or partially nude photos, known as “sexting.”
      • You lose control of any electronic message once your partner receives it. They may forward it; so don’t send anything you fear could be seen by others.
      • You do not have to share your passwords with anyone.
      • Know your privacy settings. Social networks such as Facebook allow the user to control how their information is shared and who has access to it. These are often customizable and are found in the privacy section of the site. Remember, registering for some applications (apps) require you to change your privacy settings.
      • Be mindful when using check-ins like Facebook Places and foursquare. Letting an abusive partner know where you are could be dangerous. Also, always ask your friends if it’s ok for you to check them in. You never know if they are trying to keep their location secret.
      • You have the right to feel comfortable and safe in your relationship, even online.

Safety planning when leaving the person hurting you:

  • Make an escape bag. Pack a bag that includes all important papers and documents, such as your birth certificate, license, passport, social security card, bills, prescription drugs, and medical records. Include cash, keys, and credit cards. Hide the bag well. If it’s discovered, call it a “hurricane bag” or “fire bag.” If you are escaping with children, include their identifying information as well.
  • Prepare your support network. Keep your support network in the loop. Let them know how to respond if the perpetrator contacts them.
  • Plan a destination. If you’re not going to stay with someone you know, locate the nearest domestic violence shelter or homeless shelter.
  • Plan a route. Then plan a backup route. If you are driving, have a tank of gas filled at all times. If you rely on public transportation, know the routes departure times. Many public transportation systems have mobile apps that update their schedules and arrival times.