NJCMO Newsletter

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over the other intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt or injure someone. 

Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, religion, or economic status. While most people think of domestic violence as a problem between spouses or partners, it can also occur between siblings, parents and children, or other family members. 

Types of Domestic Violence

Physical abuse is often the most easily recognizable form of domestic violence. It involves the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, serious injury or harm. Physical abuse may include but is not limited to such acts as pushing; shoving; kicking; biting; strangling; choking; restraint; and throwing objects.

Sexual abuse is any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. This includes but is not limited to such acts as unwanted touching, forced sex, and sexual coercion. 

Emotional abuse includes but is not limited to such acts as name-calling; put-downs; constant criticism; and mind games.

Economic abuse is a form of domestic violence that happens when one person controls the finances in a relationship. This may include but is not limited to such acts as controlling how money is spent, making all financial decisions, and withholding money. 

Psychological abuse is a form of domestic violence that can involve various types of manipulation and intimidation. Psychological abuse may include but is not limited to such acts as mind games; gaslighting; controlling what the victim does, who they see, or where they go; and threatening to hurt oneself or others. 

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

There are a number of warning signs that may indicate that someone is experiencing domestic violence. These warning signs can be divided into four main categories: physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse. 

Physical Abuse Warning Signs:

– unexplained injuries such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones

– injuries that have a pattern such as marks from punches, slaps, kicks, or bites

– trying to downplay injuries or making excuses for them

– wearing clothing that covers up injuries such as long-sleeved shirts in the summer

Emotional Abuse Warning Signs:

– feeling isolated from friends or family

– having to check in often with partner

– not being allowed to go places or do things

– always needing to know where partner is

– feeling like you’re “walking on eggshells” around partner

Financial Abuse Warning Signs:

– being denied access to money or credit cards

– not being allowed to work or earn an income

– being given an allowance and having to ask permission to spend money

– not being allowed to know about or have access to family finances

Sexual Abuse Warning Signs:

– unwanted touching, kissing, or fondling

– forced sex or sexual acts that make you feel uncomfortable

– being told you’re “lucky” to be with partner

– being accused of cheating if you refuse sexual activity

Effects of Domestic Violence on Youth

The effects of domestic violence on youth can be both short- and long-term. In the short-term, children who witness or are victims of domestic violence may experience scared, anxious, or confused emotions. They may have trouble sleeping, lose interest in school or hobbies, and start to withdraw from friends and family. Because they don’t have a good example to follow when it comes to relationships, kids may act in abusive ways themselves.

In the long-term, the effects of domestic violence on youth can be even more profound. Domestic violence is associated with increased risk for developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and substance use disorder (SUD). Youth who witness or experience domestic violence are also more likely to engage in risky behaviors such as smoking, drinking, drugs, unprotected sex, and violence.

Resources for Domestic Violence

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, there are a number of resources available and local services to help. In New Jersey, the domestic violence resources is 1-800-572-7233 or you can click to call. This can provide information about domestic violence shelters, legal services, and counseling. You can also visit the website of the National Domestic Violence Hotline for more information and resources. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, help is available. You are not alone.

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