Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is incredibly prevalent in the United States, and the statistics are staggering. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 20,000 calls are made to domestic violence hotlines around the country every day, and more than 10 million people per year are abused by an intimate partner.
Domestic violence includes a wide variety of behaviors that can have detrimental effects on a person’s physical and mental health, their family life, finances, career, and subsequent romantic and sexual relationships.
What Is Considered Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse, and contrary to what many people believe, it is not only committed by men against women. The National Institute of Justice divides domestic violence into the following categories:
This includes any act of physical force or abuse intended to inflict harm against an intimate partner, including but not limited to punching, slapping, biting, pushing, pulling hair, choking, or using any kind of weapon.
This category of domestic abuse includes rape and any other form of forced sexual activity, sexual intimidation or coercion, and sexual conduct with a partner who cannot consent due to drugs, alcohol, or a disability or does not consent in general.
Verbally threatening a partner with sexual or physical violence, or using a gesture or a weapon to intimidate and threaten a partner, are also considered forms of domestic violence.
Psychological and Emotional Abuse
This includes verbal abuse, manipulation, humiliation, isolating a partner from other people, denying access to healthcare or other necessary resources, and controlling a partner’s behavior (including phone or internet usage), relationships, or finances.
Stalking is defined as repeated, unwanted surveillance of one person by another, often combined with harassing and threatening behaviors. Following a partner to their home or job, sending them unwelcome notes or gifts, or harassing them online are all considered forms of stalking.
What Can You Do if You Are a Victim of Domestic Violence?
No one deserves to be abused in any way, shape, or form. If you are suffering from intimate partner violence or abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 800-799-7233.
The best thing you can do is leave your situation as soon as possible, especially if you have children who may also be in danger. The Hotline can help you find resources such as emergency shelters and social programs. If you are worried about finding help safely or are afraid of your abusive partner finding out about the call, the Hotline also has many tips and resources on their website.
Domestic Violence and Divorce
Victims of intimate partner violence often struggle to leave their abusive relationships out of fear and threats of further violence or even death by their partners. If you are married and have children with your abuser, it can be even more difficult to find a safe way out, especially if your abusive partner has total control of your finances and leaving the relationship would mean completely starting over with nothing.
Before even beginning divorce proceedings, your personal safety and the safety of your children, if you have them, should be your top priority. Once you have removed yourself from the abusive situation and you are ready to get divorced because of domestic violence, it is crucial to seek the assistance of an attorney experienced in domestic violence cases. Your lawyer will help you with legally proving abuse occurred, taking custody rights away from your abusive partner if you have children, sorting out child support or alimony payments, and other legal matters.