Quick Escape

What is Domestic Abuse?

  The Cycle of Violence
  Physical Abuse
  Sexual Abuse
  Psychological and Emotional Abuse
  Economic Abuse
  Recommended Reading

Domestic abuse is defined as a pattern of coercive behavior used by one person toward another in an intimate relationship.

The Five Types of Domestic Abuse   You May be abused if your partner:
Physical Abuse:
the deliberate infliction of physical pain

Sexual Abuse:
Any sexual contact imposed on the client against her will

Psychological/Emotional Abuse:
Any deliberate infliction of pain

Economic Abuse:
monopolizing and dominating control of finances; controlling economic resources to the point that the woman experiences emotional pain and fear about being able to provide basic survival needs for herself and children such as food, clothing and shelter

Spiritual Abuse:
the use of one's beliefs to justify their abuse or mistreatment by another
  • Controls who you see & what you do
  • Puts you down, calls you names
  • Humiliates you in public or private
  • Has temper tantrums or rages
  • Hits, slaps, pinches, kicks or shoves you
  • Threatens to harm you, your children or pets
  • Ridicules or insults your values or beliefs
  • Is controlling or secretive about money
  • Makes you account for every penny spent
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Throws or breaks things in front of you
  • Forces you to have sex or perform unwanted sexual acts
  • Punishes the children when he is angry at you

The Cycle of Violence

Although each situation is different, the cycle of violence typically occurs in three phases: increased tension building, the incident of abuse and the loving contrition or lessening of tension. However, the calm or contrition phase does not exist in all relationships, and in other relationships where this phase does occur at first it may decrease or disappear over time. Each time the cycle is repeated, the abuser will typically increase the severity of violence and decrease the amount of time between cycles. There are no guarantees that he will not use lethal force the first time he uses violence, or any other time. Every family incident must be considered potentially lethal.

Phase 1: Tension or build-up

This phase may last a week, months or years and will typically shorten each time the cycle is repeated. Characteristics of this phase are increasing verbal and minor physical abuse and decreasing communication, especially loving communication. This is the time when the survivor is most open to resources in the community. The abuser may also feel this tension but will deny this to himself and others.

Phase 2: Incident of violence

At this point, the abuser has surpassed his ability or desire to control his angry feelings and violence responses. If this is not the first time for the batterer, he will recall that his "stress" seems to "vanish" after using violence. If this is the first time for the batterer, he will come to this conclusion and change his future behavior. This is the phase in which law enforcement typically becomes involved and serious injuries requiring medical care are suffered.

Phase 3: Calm or loving contrition / Honeymoon Phase

In this phase there is the perception of reconciliation and resolution. It is typically shorter than the tension build up at the beginning of the cycle and may disappear over time. Frequently, the abuser will promise that it will never happen again and usually justifies his behavior by blaming the abused or with excuses such as drinking. Memories of an earlier stage of the relationship, such as during courtship, will make these promises seems valid. Therefore, the survivor is less likely to be open to resources in the community, particularly if this cycle has not had many repetitions.

Physical Abuse

Behaviors that typify physical battering include:

  • Kicking
  • Hitting
  • Biting
  • Choking
  • Pushing
  • Hair pulling
  • Throwing the person across the room
  • Throwing the person on the floor
  • Assault with a weapon

Certain areas of the body may be targeted in some cases; for example, the abdomen of a pregnant woman

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes:

  • Physical attacks on the breast or genitals
  • Forced sexual sadism
  • Forced sexual activity

The goal of one who commits marital rape appears to be an act of violence in which sex is used to humiliate, hurt, degrade and dominate the other. This violence seems to escalate over time in the sexual relationship, often accompanied by life threatening acts or threats.

Psychological and Emotional Abuse

This kind of abuse is more than arguments; the abuse is a systematic destruction of the person's self esteem.

Economic Abuse

One way that abusers control their partners is by having complete control over the household finances. They may try to prevent their partners from working, which heightens the dependence their partners have on them. Even if the partners are employed and have their own source of income, the abuser often demands accountability for every penny spent.

Recommended Reading

 You Are Not Alone

A compelling resource for women who want to heal in a Jewish context, this book has brought solace to many. From congregations, social workers to individuals, Ms. Landesman has received praise for her ability to show the reader that abuse is never the fault of the abused and, while keeping a kind and sensitive tone, gives voice to resources available in the Jewish Community. In addition to helping victims of domestic abuse, this book is a must-have for any Jewish communal worker.




Not to People Like Us

Not to People Like Us exposes the myth that domestic abuse occurs only in lower-class families. Dr. Weitzman presents case histories to show that health care professionals ignore the signs of domestic abuse in higher income families, law enforcement agents and judges "go easy" on it, and battered women shelters often turn away educated, well- dressed, abused women. In addition to exploring this issue, the author provides coping strategies and practical advise to help these women leave their relationships, and proposes new approaches for health care professionals in recognizing and helping women in these situations.




Is your relationship based on equality or on power and control?


Power & Control Wheel

Equality Wheel

(Please click thumbnails for larger image)

Although incidents physical violence may occur only once or occasionally, they instill the threat of future attacks and allow the abuser to take control of the woman's life an circumstances. The Power & Control diagram is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over his partner. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship. (Texas Council on Family Violence)

Jfs Houston

Main Who We Are What is Domestic Abuse Projects & Programs Links

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