It is important we all reach a level of understanding domestic violence. Amazingly, in spite of the expansion of awareness, many are still asking, “What is domestic violence?” One definition is: A pattern of abusive behavior in an intimate or romantic relationship where one person chooses to control the relationship through the use of force, intimidation or fear.

Understanding domestic violence can be tricky. Most still consider it an anger management issue, failing to realize it is actually a matter of one person having power and control over another. The abusive behavior can be physical, verbal, emotional, financial or sexual. Sometimes it’s subtle, and sometimes it’s extreme. Only on rare occasion does the abusive behavior not get worse. Abuse coming to a halt, or even maintaining status quo, are exceptions to the rule. It can happen. Abusers can be rehabilitated, but the chances are not so great.

While domestic violence can exist in adult relationships, it is important to know teenagers and young adults also experience intimate partner violence and abuse. In understanding domestic violence, we must we realize both males and females can be perpetrators or targets of abuse. It can happen in either straight or same-sex relationships. You do not have to be married, and you don’t have to be of legal age to experience domestic violence. All around the country teens are experiencing abuse from their dating partners. It is happening in colleges and high schools. It is happening in churches. When reach a leval of understanding domestic violence, we become aware it is happening on social network sites, as well. Some posts on the internet by one intimate partner to or about the other, often contain jealousy and/or public humiliation. Jealousy is not love! Jealousy is a reaction to the fear of losing power and control over another. It is the perception one has lost ground in their manipulation and control of the other person or the relationship. A jealous person feels emotionally threatened—plain and simple.

There is nothing that you can do or say to deserve being abused. The abuse is never your fault. Everyone has the right to a safe and healthy relationship.

In order to protect yourself, you should know some of the warning signs of an abusive relationship.

Understanding Domestic Violence Warning Signs:

  • extreme jealousy or insecurity
  • pushing for a fast relationship, not wanting to give you time to really get to know them (You may get a new perspective and leave)
  • constant put-downs
  • possessiveness or treating you like property
  • excessive phone calls, emails or texting
  • “honeymoon periods” when the flowers, jewelry and/or apologies flow, only until the next incident
  • telling you what to do
  • constantly checking in on you
  • explosive temper
  • making false accusations
  • isolating you from your friends and family
  • preventing you from doing things you want to do
  • escalation of verbal and emotional abuse, grabbing an arm, getting in your face, etc.

In understanding domestic violence, it is important to know what it is not:

It  is not just an argument every once in a while.

It is not a chain of misunderstandings.

It is not love.

Domestic violence is an ongoing pattern of abusive behavior when one person chooses to control the relationship through force, fear, pressure or intimidation.

Power and Control Wheel

Domestic and/or intimate partner violence can exist between a couple who are married, divorced, living together, dating, with kids or without kids. It can be between teenagers, young people, adults, the elderly, between a man and woman, two women, two men, two people from any race, culture, nationality, religion, and from any neighborhood, economic status or educational level…  Understanding domestic violence means realizing and knowing it can affect anyone.

The abusive behavior can be physical, verbal/emotional or sexual. It always begins with verbal and emotional abuse – always. Understanding domestic violence includes recognizing the words, attitude and personality of your date, or your potential partner.

It is vital in understanding domestic violence to know that people become abusers and perpetrators because they choose to do so, not because they can’t stop themselves. Abusing someone is a CHOICE.

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