violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors,
including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks,
as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents
use against their intimate partner.
- A pattern
of behaviors including a variety of tactics - some physically
injurious and some not, some criminal and some not - carried
out in multiple, sometimes daily episodes.
- A pattern of assaultive and
coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological
attacks, as well as economic coercion.
- A combination of physical force
and terror used by the perpetrator that causes physical and psychological
harm to the victim and children.
- A pattern of purposeful behavior,
directed at achieving compliance from or control over the victim.
- Behaviors perpetrated by adults
or adolescents against their intimate partner in current or former
dating, married or cohabiting relationships of heterosexuals,
gays and lesbians.
Prepared by Anne
L. Ganley, Ph.D. for the Family Violence Prevention Fund
Back to Top
One out of every three women will be abused at some point in her life.
- Battering is the single major cause of injury to women, exceeding rapes, muggings
and auto accidents combined.
- A woman is more likely to be killed by a male partner (or former partner) than any other person.
- About 4,000 women die each year due to domestic violence.
- Of the total domestic violence homicides, about 75% of the victims were killed as
they attempted to leave the relationship or after the relationship had ended.
- Seventy-three percent of male abusers were abused as children.
- Thirty percent of Americans say they know a woman who has been physically abused by her husband in the past year.
- Women of all races are equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.
- On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or partners in this country every day.
- Intimate partner violence a crime that largely affects women. In 1999, women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner violence.
- On average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good.
- Approximately 75% of women who are killed by their batterers are murdered when they attempt to leave or after they have left an abusive relationship.
Do women who stay
in abusive relationships like the abuse?
No one wants to be
hurt, beaten or made to feel inferior. Women stay in abusive relationships
for a number of reasons. Women may have nowhere to go. They may
believe that it is better for their children to stay in a stable
home. For many women, the reason they stay is because of fear.
Statistics show that 75% of women who are murdered by their batterers
are killed when they leave or after they leave the relationship.
Why do people
There is no single
reason for abuse. Violence is a means of trying to exercise power
and control over someone else. Many batterers were victims of abuse
as children or came from families in which spousal abuse was prevalent.
It is important to remember, however, that not all people who were
victims of abuse as children will turn into batterers.
Can you identify a potential batterer
when you meet him/her?
Just as there is
not one reason for abuse, there is not one type of batterer. Many
batterers are highly successful professionally and in other areas
of their lives. With history and society to support their beliefs,
they may have little remorse or regret over battering.
Are victims of
domestic violence “weak” people?
The fact that
people experience domestic violence doesn’t make them inherently “weak.” Through
manipulation and coercion abusers often chip away at the victim’s
self-esteem. Sometimes this process happens so subtly that the
victim is unaware of the psychological, emotional and other types
of abuse that often precede a physically violent attack. In addition,
it is important to note that many victims grew up in homes where
there was excessive violence and turbulence. They may have seen
their parents abuse alcohol and drugs, and consequently blamed
themselves for the dysfunction and unhappiness.
What do abused women
want and need?
The first thing that
an abused woman needs is to be safe. If she is in danger it is
very difficult to think beyond the immediate crisis. She does
not need someone to tell her to “snap out of it” or
to insult her for being in her position. Basically, a victim
needs support, someone who will listen to her, and she needs
information about services. Above all, she needs respect.
Is it true that
most violent relationships go through cycles - from tension building
to an active battering incident, leading to the honeymoon or “remorseful” stage?
pattern, called the “Cycle of Violence”, came from the battered women’s
movement in the 1970’s. The idea has changed over the years
because many women found that their relationships did not go through
these phases. For some people there is no “honeymoon” phase.
Others do not see the tension building. Women’s rights activists
today have changed the model, renaming it the “Campaign of
Violence.” The new name suggests that the violence is ongoing
and multi-faceted, taking a variety of forms.
Are men violent
because they lose control?
No. Domestic violence
is not a form of losing control; it is an attempt at gaining control.
Most acts of violence are premeditated, occurring behind closed
doors. It may seem as though the batterer is losing control because
of his angry behavior. To that end, most batterers are very good
manipulators. They know how to convince others and their victims
that they are not at fault for their actions.
Is domestic violence
less of a problem between same-sex couples?
Studies show that
violence in same-sex relationships is as common as it is in heterosexual
relationships. Sometimes the violence is less noticeable because
of preconceived notions about gender roles. When men fight, people
tend to view it as natural, because “boys will be boys.” Women,
because they are stereotyped as sensitive and passive, are not
expected to be violent.
Do drugs and alcohol
cause domestic violence?
The need to exercise
power and control is the cause of domestic violence. Drugs and
alcohol enable people to lose their inhibitions, and cloud sound
judgment. As a result, violence may be exacerbated by the use of
these substances. It is important to remember, however, that it
is not the cause.
What can I do
if I, or someone I know is being abused?
There are many options
available to people who need help. You can look in the local phone
book or in a community services directory for the phone number
of a shelter and counseling services closest to you. You can talk
to someone you trust, or call any 24-hour hotline. The Florida
Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV) has a hotline that
can direct you to services in your area. The number is 1-800-500-1119.
In the Florida Keys you can reach the Domestic Abuse Shelter, Inc.
(DAS) 24 hours a day, seven days a week at (305) 743-4440.
POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL
Click on image to view larger
question often asked by society is: Why don’t battered women
leave their abusers? According to Michael Down, Director of the
Battered Women’s Justice Center at Pace University School
of Law, asking this question suggests that battered women can control
the violence. It also suggests, in a subtle way, that the women
are to blame when they are unable to leave abusive partners. Victims
cannot control this violence; the ones responsible are the abusers.
are a number of reasons why women stay. The reasons are usually
very compelling. Women who do walk away usually accomplish this
through the assistance and support of friends, family, and the
legal and medical community. For those who choose to stay, the
of the unknown. Sometimes leaving the abuse and being alone
will be more frightening for the victim than remaining in
the relationship. Also, the abuser usually tends to threaten
the victim and the children with physical harm if they try
to leave. Statistics show that women who leave their batterers
are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer
than those who stay.
- Children: Being
a single parent may be a terrifying experience for a battered
woman. The responsibility of raising children alone can be
too much to bear (even if the spouse/boyfriend has never
assisted in the care taking needs of the children.) The abuser
will often use the children as a pawn against the victim
by threatening to take them away if the woman attempts to
- Promises of Reform: The
abuser will frequently promise that it will never happen again;
the victim wants to believe that this is true.
woman may believe that her husband is sick and needs her
help. Women are trained to think that they can save their
abusive mates, that they can change. Thus, the idea of leaving
her spouse can produce feelings of guilt.
of Self-esteem: The
woman may come to believe that she somehow deserves the abuse
to which she has been subjected (she has been told this repeatedly
by her partner). Lack of self-esteem and the belief that she
doesn’t deserve anything better can be paralyzing for
a battered woman. This lack of self-esteem cuts across racial,
ethnic, religious and socioeconomic lines. Physicians, attorneys,
judges, and professors can be, and are, battered.
people enter a relationship for love, and that emotion does
not simply disappear in abusive relationships. Most women want
the violence to end, but love their partner and want the relationship.
According to G.L. Bundow, a South Carolina physician, “I
know that when I took my marriage vows, I meant for better
or for worse.” This physician accepted the abuse, and
it wasn’t until the day that the “until death do
us part” section of her wedding vows became a frightening
reality that she was motivated to leave the relationship.
Conditioning: Women are
still taught to be passive and dependent upon men. In addition,
women generally accept the responsibility for the state of
their relationships; to leave is to admit failure.
Acceptance/Reinforcement of Marital Violence: Many
people believe that marital violence is acceptable. “She’s
there because she likes it,” or “A little slap
will keep her in line.”
economic reality for women (particularly with children) is
a bleak one, especially for women who have not worked outside
the home. Economic dependency on the spouse is often a very
real reason for remaining in the relationship. She may not
have (or know of) any other resources.
religious beliefs reinforce the commitment to a marriage. “This
is God’s plan” may be a powerful reason for staying.
or Ethnic Background: Often
a person’s cultural or ethnic background may discourage
revealing the fact that the person is a victim of domestic
violence. As a result, the victim will remain in the relationship
in order to avoid persons outside the family from finding out.
of a Broken Home: Society
considers that families who separate are “broken.” This
implies that something is wrong with such a family, even though
the “intact” family environment may be a violent
and dangerous one.
with the Relationship between Incidents of Battering: The
abusers are often very charming and loving when not abusing
the victim. The women often tend to fall for their batterer’s
softer side, especially the tenderness that they show immediately
following each attack.
are many complex reasons for not seeking help from domestic violence.
The reasons vary from individual on why they do not reach out.
The following are some common reasons why she/he may not reach
are so bad
Abuse of a child
Fear of the unknown is less than fear in the relationship
Fear of death
Wanting to talk to someone, seeking support
Willing to break the secret
Act of violence/police intervention
Acceptance of situation/admitting there is a problem
Circle "true" or "false" in
response to the following statements.
Click here for the answers.
1. Domestic violence
affects only a small percentage of the population.
2. Domestic violence
occurs mostly in lower socioeconomic groups.
3. Women are most often
the victims rather than the perpetrators of abuse.
4. Children who are
abused often become abusers themselves.
5. Alcohol and other
drug abuse cause violent behavior.
6. When two women in
a same-sex relationship fight, it's usually a "fair fight" (a
fight between equals).
7. It's easy to identify
a batterer based on how he behaves in public.
8. Abuse does not stop
and may even intensify when the woman is pregnant.
9. Children living
in homes where domestic violence is present probably aren't affected
emotionally unless the violence is targeted at them.
and sexual violence affect a large percentage of the population,
cutting across all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic boundaries.
According to statistics one in three women is a victim of
domestic violence. One in three girls and one in six boys
are victims of sexual abuse before they reach the age of
violence occurs at all socioeconomic levels. Financial pressures
may put pressure on families that can exacerbate violence,
but it is important to remember that socioeconomic pressures
are NOT the cause. Domestic violence is a result of the need
for one person to exercise power and control over another.
The problem is prevalent in upper, middle and lower class communities
partner violence a crime that largely affects women. In 1999,
women accounted for 85% of the victims of intimate partner
approximately seventy-three percent of abusers were victims
of violence as children, not all victims turn into batterers.
Many victims grow up to be loving, healthy parents.
alcohol and/or drugs are present in almost 50% of abuse cases,
they are never the cause of violence. An insatiable need for
power and control is the cause for domestic violence. Alcohol
and drugs may loosen inhibitions allowing batterers to unleash
show that domestic violence is equally common in same-sex and
heterosexual relationships. Stereotypes about men and women
may prevent us from acknowledging domestic violence. Beliefs
that “boys will be boys” or that “women never
fight” are a way of ignoring the power and control issue
that is present in all domestic violence situations. Just because
the couple may be equal in strength doesn’t mean that
one cannot exercise power and control over the other.
is often very difficult to identify a batterer. Domestic violence
is one of the most clandestine problems. Batterers are often
skillful manipulators, knowing how to present a good image
so that the violence remains a secret. Many people are surprised
when they learn that their neighbor, friend or family member
is a batterer.
to statistics, women are at greater risk of being victimized
by domestic abuse when they are pregnant. Batterers may feel
increasingly threatened and jealous of the victim’s attention
towards the unborn baby, and become more violent as a result.
1993, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Declaration
on the Elimination of Violence against Women. The document defines
violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence
that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or
mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts,
coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring
in public or private life.”
Violence against women
is a problem in every country in the world. The statistics are
- In every country where reliable,
large-scale studies have been conducted, results indicate that
between 10% and 50% of women report they have been physically
abused by an intimate partner in their lifetime. (WHO, 2000)
- Population-based studies report
between 12% and 25% of women globally have experienced attempted
or completed forced sex by an intimate partner or ex-partner
at some time in their lives. (WHO, 2000)
- Interpersonal violence was the
tenth leading cause of death for women around the world 15 -
44 years of age in 1998. (WHO, 2000)
- Forced prostitution, trafficking
for sex and sex tourism appear to be growing. Existing data and
statistical sources on trafficking of women and children estimated
500,000 women entering the European Union in 1995. (WHO, 2000)
- Among women aged 15 - 44 worldwide,
gender-based violence accounts for more death and ill health
than cancer, traffic injuries and malaria put together. (World
- Approximately 60 million women,
mostly in Asia, are “missing” killed by infanticide,
selective abortion, deliberate under-nutrition or lack of access
to health care. (Panos 1998: UNFPA)
- Based on recent studies, more
than 130 million girls and women, mostly in Africa, have undergone
female genital mutilation, and an estimated 2 million girls are
at risk for undergoing the procedure each year. (WHO, 1998)
- In 9 Latin American countries,
a rapist who marries his victim stays out of jail. (Chiarotti,
- Studies suggest that one-fourth
to one-third of the 170 million women and girls currently living
in the European Union are subjected to male violence. (Logar,
Back to Top
1. Ask about the violence and the
2. Support her telling her story
again and again. Acknowledge the courage in telling.
3. Find her strengths and point them
out to her.
4. Build upon her hopes, dreams,
and plans for the future.
5. Rebuild her social-support network
or create an alternative network that is trustworthy.
6. Stick with her, even when you
7. Build her knowledge of options
and advocate for her.
8. Provide concrete assistance.
9. Take an active concern and help
her plan for her safety.
10. Respect her choices. Only she
lives with the consequences. Let her maintain control.
11. Collaborate with other services
that can help her. Work actively with them.
Family Violence Prevention Fund