What is family violence?

Any abusive, violent, coercive, forceful, or threatening act or word inflicted by one member of a family or household on another can constitute family violence.

Family violence can take many forms.  Some forms are: 

Physical abuse- actual act or threat of an act that will cause bodily harm
Ex) pushing, pinching, hitting, kicking, choking, burning, reckless     driving,
blocking exits, throwing objects, attacking with objects/weapons

Sexual abuse- any unwanted or imposed act derived from a sexual nature   
Ex) unwanted sexual touches, sexual exploitation, forced sex/ rape

Emotional abuse- actions and words that cause fear or demean self image
Ex) isolating from others, insulting, terrorizing, ignoring, stalking, cyber-stalking,
imposing rigid beliefs, threatening to harm self if one does not comply with  demands

Economic abuse/ financial abuse- acts that result in financial control of another
individual (spouse, parent, in-law,etc )
Ex) No access to money, not allowing victim to work, stealing, withholding    
one's paychecks/social security checks.    

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

Compare the wheels on the links below:

Power and Control Wheel

Equality Wheel

The above wheels were developed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, and posted with permission.For more information: DOMESTIC ABUSE INTERVENTION PROJECT  202 East Superior Street Duluth, MN 55802 218-722-2781

Much has been written about gender specific violence. APIIDV has composed this lifetime spiral of gender based violence against women. 

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Common Myths and why they are wrong:

Family violence only happens in poor families and women of color.

  • Family violence happens in all kinds of families and relationships. Persons of any class, culture, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, age, and sex can be victims or perpetrators of domestic violence.

Some people deserve to be hit.
  • No one deserves to be abused. Period. The only person responsible for the abuse is the abuser.
  • Physical violence, even among family members, is wrong and against the law.

Alcohol, drug abuse, stress, and mental illness cause family violence.
  • Alcohol use, drug use, and stress do not cause family violence; they may go along with family violence, but they do not cause the violence. Abusers often say they use these excuses for their violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1.6 - 1.7)
  • Generally, domestic violence happens when an abuser has learned and chooses to abuse. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 - 5)
  • Family violence is rarely caused by mental illness, but it is often used as an excuse for domestic violence. (Michigan Judicial Institute, Domestic Violence Benchbook, 1998, p. 1 - 8)

Family violence is a personal problem between a husband and a wife.
  • Family violence affects everyone.
  • About 1 in 3 American women have been physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives. (Commonwealth Fund, Health Concerns Across a Woman's Lifespan: the Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Women's Health, 1999)
  • In 1996, 30% of all female murder victims were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1997)
  • 40% to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children. (American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family, 1996)

If it were that bad, she would just leave.
  • There are many reasons why women may not leave. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused.
  • Leaving can be dangerous. The most dangerous time for a woman who is being abused is when she tries to leave. (United States Department of Justice, National Crime Victim Survey, 1995)

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