What is DV?

Identifying Abuse + Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that includes different types of abuse.

Examples of abuse: Emotional, pyschological, physical, financial, sexual + litigation. 

Domestic violence is the result of a person’s feeling of entitlement to have power and control over their partner or family member and their choice to use abusive behaviors to gain and maintain that power and control. These behaviors may be directed at the victim or at other family members, children or pets in an attempt to control the victim.

Abuse may be referred to as intimate partner violence when it occurs between intimate partners. Because domestic violence is all about control, it is common for the abuse to continue even after an intimate relationship has ended. When a survivor decides to end the relationship, the abuser may escalate abusive behaviors and use increased violence to regain control of the survivor. If children are involved, the abuser may attempt to use the child or custody process as a way to continue controlling the survivor.



When thinking about domestic violence, it is important to understand the context of behaviors in a healthy relationship vs. an unhealthy relationship.

What is respectful communication in one scenario may be a sign of control in another.


For instance, in a healthy relationship you may check in with your partner about schedules, letting them know when you would like to spend time with your friends by asking, “do you care if I go out with some friends after work?” In an unhealthy relationship, this question is about permission, not respectful communication. Simply put - domestic violence is complex.



Warning Signs + Risk Factors

Physical abuse is often the most recognizable form of domestic violence, but it’s not the form experienced most often by survivors. While abusers will most likely use non-physical methods of control, threats of physical violence may be one of them.

  • Hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, grabbing, etc.
  • Choking, strangling or impeding your breathing in anyway
  • Throwing objects at you or breaking them to intimidate you
  • Disrupting your sleep patterns to make you feel exhausted
  • Hurting or threatening to hurt your children and/or pets

Emotional & Psychological Abuse includes both verbal and non-verbal behaviors intended to control the survivor and negatively impact their well-being.

  • Name-calling, mocking, put-downs, or making humiliating remarks, particularly in front of others
  • Controlling your daily activities including where you can and cannot go
  • Stalking behaviors, such as following or monitoring you, constantly checking up on you and demanding to know where you are, sending unwanted gifts
  • Being overly jealous and/or isolating your from family and friends
  • Gaslighting you, minimizing your opinion, and shifting responsibility for their behaviors

Money is often a tool that abusers use to establish absolute control in their relationships, making the survivor solely dependent on them to live.

In fact, 98% of abusive relationships include some form of financial abuse.

  • Forbidding you from working or going to school or sabotaging either (e.g., giving you a visible injury, denying you access to a car, calling you constantly at work, destroying your homework, etc.)
  • Forcing you to turn over your paycheck
  • Controlling all money, bank accounts, and assets and giving you an “allowance”
  • Hiding assets or money from you
  • Running up debt in your name or opening credit accounts in your name without your knowledge

Sexual abuse is any sexual encounter that happens without your consent. Having an ongoing relationship and/or having consented to past sexual activity does not indicate current consent.

Sexual abuse can be both verbal and physical.

  • Forcing or coercing you to participate in any sexual activity in which you do not want to participate
  • Exploiting you when you are unable to consent to sexual activity
  • Unwanted touching of any kind
  • Taking or sharing any type of sexually explicit media without your consent
  • Denying you contraception or protection against sexually transmitted diseases

Abusers often use the court in an effort to continue to control and abuse the survivor even after the relationship has ended.

Many survivors report being drawn into prolonged, contentious, and extremely expensive court proceedings related to divorce and child custody wherein the abuser is using the judicial system to control, harass, threaten and manipulate the survivor and the survivor’s legal position.

  • Filing repeated motions with the same or similar content even after they’ve been denied
  • Requesting unnecessary adjournments or postponements
  • Appealing orders without a legal basis
  • Filing frivolous motions or motions having no legal basis

Domestic violence is complicated and may look different in different relationships. Above are types of domestic violence and some common behaviors for each. This is not an exhaustive list.




He would never hurt me.

Sometimes abusive behaviors start subtly and escalate over time. And sometimes they are so pervasive that the abuse simply becomes what we know. When a survivor does recognize that they’re in an abusive relationship, they may not think that it will ever escalate to physical violence or worse, fatal violence. There are signs that abuse is escalating and may become lethal…
  • Has your abuser ever used a weapon against you or threatened you with a weapon?
  • Has your abuser ever threatened to kill you or your children?
  • Do you think your abuser might try to kill you?
  • Has physical violence increased in frequency or severity in the past 6 months?
  • Does your abuser have a gun or can they easily get one?
  • Has your abuser ever tried to choke you? Have you recently left, separated from or divorced your abuser?

Stop asking, “Why doesn’t she leave.” AND Start asking,

“Why does he do this?”

Learn how to Best HELP those experiencing dv    Speak with an Advocate to get support + insight