What Is Domestic Violence?

According to the Domestic Violence Information and Referral Handbook, Domestic Violence is an escalating pattern of abuse where one partner in the relationship has intimate controls over the other through force, intimidation or threat of violence.

Domestic Violence Defined

Physical - Kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, pushing, biting, choking, throwing things at the victim, denial of medical care.
Sexual - Forced or pressured sexual acts, rape, criticizing his/her body, withholding sex or affection, hurting the victim during sex.
Emotional - Excessive criticism, name-calling, destroying the victim’s property, making the victim feel worthless.
Financial - Preventing the victim from getting or holding a job, making the victim ask for money, hiding information about family finances, withholding money or credit, controlling the victim’s economic status or basic needs.
Blaming - Telling the victim he/she is the cause of problems, denying abuse, making others think it is her fault when she is emotionally hurt.
Isolation - Excessive jealousy, controlling what the victim does, not allowing the victim to see or talk to friends or relatives, making the victim stay home.
Children - Using visitation to harass the victim, threatening to take the children away, using the children to relay messages, making the victim feel guilty about the children or parenting issues.
Gender Roles - Treating women like servants, controlling all big decisions, deciding what is men’s work and women’s work, acting like “the master of the house.”
Intimidation - Using “looks” to control or cause fear, breaking the victim’s property, hurting, killing, or threatening pets, handling or playing with weapons.
Other -  Using fear of deportation, threatening to “out” the victim’s sexual orientation, attacking the victim’s spiritual/religious beliefs, preventing the victim from attending school/training.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a learned behavior.

Domestic violence is not caused by:

Common characteristics of a batterer:

Abuse Comes In Many Forms

Physical: Kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, pushing, or any other acts that hurt your body.

Sexual: Call you vulgar names, criticizing your body parts or sensuality, forced or pressured sexual acts, including rape.

Emotional: Assaults against your self-esteem.

Verbal: Name-calling, threats, put-downs.

Physiology: Causing you to feel as if you are “going crazy.”

Spiritual: Attacking your spiritual or religious beliefs.

Financial: Controlling and manipulating you by threatening your economic status and basic needs.

Homophobic: Threatening to “out” you to people who do not know your sexual orientation.

Immigration: Using your immigration status and fear of deportation to control you.

Destructive Acts: Actual or threatened assault on your property or pets to scare you.

What The Law Says About Abuse

Penal Code 273.5 (a) states in part:

Any person who willfully inflicts upon a person who is his or her spouse, former spouse, cohabitant, former cohabitant, or the mother or father of his or her child, corporal injury resulting in a traumatic condition is guilty of a felony, and upon conviction thereof, and shall be punished by imprisonment in a state prison or county jail, or by fine up to six thousand dollars or by both fine and imprisonment.


Adapted from: Project for Victims of Family Violence, Inc.

Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Fear -  Batterers frequently threaten the life of the person they are abusing, especially when they think that the victim might leave.  A woman’s danger level increases by 75% when she tries to leave.  Batterers may also threaten to harm the woman’s children, family or pets.  Leaving an abusive relationship means living in constant fear and chaos while trying to build independence and stability for a victim and her children.

Nowhere To Go - Support systems may have disintegrated due to the abusive relationship and the isolation that goes with it.  A victim may have no place to live.  50% of homeless women and children are fleeing domestic violence.  Women attempting to leave their batterer are often faced with living in poverty as an alternative to living with abuse.

No Money - Women in abusive relationships are often completely cut off from finances, and it allowed to work, are not in control of the money they earned.  Women attempting to leave will have to work to support themselves and their children and will face obstacles such as:  finding a job, finding affordable housing, having money for deposits, having poor or no credit, limited employment histories, finding affordable child care.  The batterer created most of these conditions.

Self Esteem Problems - Living in a violent relationship wears a woman down physically and emotionally.  The batterer tries to make her believe all the problems of the relationship are her fault.  He tries to make her believe she is not worthy of another relationship and that no other person would want to be with her.  The cycle of violence (tension building, explosion and honeymoon) conspires to make a woman believe the batterer will return to his former self and that he will not harm her again.

Drugs/Alcohol - Many women turn to drugs and/or alcohol to cope with violence.  The batterer may threaten to report her to police and have her arrested or have her children taken away.

Disabled - The rate of abuse in the disabled population is high and often overlooked and under-reported.  If a disabled woman is being abused, often the batterer is her caretaker.  He may be the only person she has contact with.  Shelters are sometimes not equipped for women with physical disabilities.

Get The Help You Need To Stop The Violence

If you are a victim of abuse, get the help you need. You can contact law enforcement, women’s shelters, or the law firm of Cash-Dudley Speiller & Torres. We have prepared domestic violence restraining orders and have served many victims of abuse.

Facts About Abuse

Fact: Almost four million women are beaten in their homes every year by their male partners.

Fact: Battering is not about anger or losing control; it is an intentional choice focused on maintaining power and control in the relationship.

Fact: The batterer is responsible for the violence – not the victim. Even when you disagree, you do not deserve to be beaten.

Fact: Substance abuse is involved in about one half of all domestic violence incidents.

Fact: Because violence inflicted upon a woman by her partner is treated much differently then violence inflicted by a stranger, batters are not always arrested.

Fact: Battering crosses all economic, educational, ethnic, sexual orientation, age, and racial lines in equal proportions. There is no “typical” victim.

Fact: Batters equally lead “normal” lives except for their unwillingness to stop their violence and controlling behavior in their intimate relationships. Batters do not batter because they are crazy or mentally ill.

Adapted from the Domestic Violence Information and Referral Handbook, Santa Clara County


Top of Page