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Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior. Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without ever using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.

Domestic Violence: Physical Abuse
Physical violence may include: hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, strangling, smothering, using or threatening to use weapons, shoving, interrupting your sleep, throwing things, destroying property, hurting or killing pets, and denying medical treatment.

Domestic Violence: Sexual Abuse
Sexual abuse may include: physically forcing sex, making victims feel fearful about saying no to sex, forcing sex with other partners, forcing victims to participate in demeaning or degrading sexual acts, violence or name calling during sex, and denying contraception or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Domestic Violence: Emotional Abuse
Emotional abuse can include: constant put downs or criticisms, name calling, “crazy making”, acting superior, minimizing the abuse or blaming victims for their behavior, threatening and making victims feel fearful, isolating them from family and friends, excessive jealousy, accusing victims of having affairs, and watching where they go and who they talk to.

Domestic Violence: Financial Abuse
Some forms of financial abuse include: giving victims an allowance, not letting them have their own money, hiding family assets, running up debt, interfering with victims’ jobs, and ruining their credit.

signs of abuse

Signs of Domestic Violence:

  • Excuse for injuries
  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident
  • Constantly checking in with their partner
  • Never having any money on hand
  • Overly worried about pleasing their partner
  • Skipping out on work, school, or social outings for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises

The signs and symptoms of abuse tend to be the same for women, men, and the LGBTQ+ community; there are no differences.


When someone listens to and believes a survivor, it can make a world of difference for them. Taking a survivor-centered approach empowers survivors by prioritizing their needs and wants.

T = Thank them for telling you
A = Ask how you can help
L = Listen without judgment
K = Keep supporting

Never Victim Blame
Abuse is never the victim’s fault. Believe, support, and trust survivors. Place the responsibility on abusers and perpetrators to end the abuse. Trust their perspective. Listen! Ask survivors what they need to individually be safe.


  • Talk in private
  • Sit with them at eye level
  • Use language they understand
  • Control emotional response and remain calm
  • Tell them that asking for help is a good thing
  • Provide love, support & emotional security
  • Tell them they can have their own feelings
  • Remind them they deserve independence
  • Be mindful of your language and purpose


  • Don’t use leading questions
  • Don’t show shock, disgust or anger at abuser
  • Don’t try to rescue the victim
  • Don’t say you understand when you don’t
  • Don’t become too emotionally involved
  • Don’t give advice or demand action
  • Don’t take criticism personally
  • Don’t reinforce self blame
  • Don’t touch them without consent

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