What is Domestic Violence?

People often think of domestic violence only in terms of the black eyes and bruises that can be seen.

In reality, domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that abusive men use to control their intimate partners. As adaptive and resilient as they are, women who have been battered nevertheless face a daunting number of barriers to escaping the violence. In addition to the very real threat of harm or death to themselves or their children, victims must contend with the accompanying financial and emotional hardship. They also often weigh cultural and religious values that emphasize keeping families intact and respond to the violence in spite of justice and social service systems that don’t always provide adequate safety and support.

Women who have been battered sometimes express confusion about the recurring nature of the violence they experience in their relationship. It seems to them to be unpredictable and impulsive. Domestic violence, however, is neither random nor haphazard. It is a complex pattern of increasingly frequent and harmful physical, sexual, psychological and other abusive behaviors used to control the victim.

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For immediate help in Missouri, click here

or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
or the National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673.

This project was supported in part by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Family Violence Prevention and Services Program contract No. 2015G991540 and by Grant No. 2014-MU-AX-1204 awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, conclusions, and recommendations expressed in this publication/program/exhibition are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women.

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