Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that involves physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse. It also may include repeated psychosocial abuses, assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, intimidation, or economic coercion. Domestic violence is perpetrated by adults or adolescents against their intimate partners in current or former dating, married or cohabiting relationships of heterosexuals, gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, or trans-gendered people. Domestic violence does not discriminate against race, class, gender, religious, age, or economic status.

Myths about Domestic Violence:

Myth #1: Domestic Violence is just a momentary loss of temper.

FACT: Power and control are the issues behind domestic violence. The batterer uses them to control the victim. Domestic violence usually gets worse over time.

Myth #2: Domestic Violence does not occur in all social economic classes.

FACT: Domestic Violence occurs across all economic classes, as well as all ethnic groups, cultures, religions, social classes, income levels and occupations.

Myth #3: Domestic Violence occurs because of drugs and alcohol.

FACT: Drugs and alcohol are often used as an excuse for domestic violence. They are not the cause. Violence is a choice a batterer makes to express his/her anger.

Myth #4: Heads of households have the right to control the people they support.

FACT: No one in a relationship has the right to control his/her partner.

Myth #5: The victim stays because she/he must like it.

FACT: There are many reasons why a victim stays in a violent relationship. Reasons include fear, financial concerns, love, children, religious beliefs, cultural/ethnic beliefs, low self-esteem, and belief the situation will get better.

Myth #6: If the batterer is truly sorry and promises to reform, the abuse is going to stop.

FACT: A batterer often says he/she is sorry. This does not mean the abuse will stop. He/she needs to take responsibility for his/her behavior and also take the appropriate steps to change.

Myth #7: If the violent episodes don't result in injury, the situation is not that serious.

FACT: The situation is serious. Many people in violent relationships minimize and deny the violence. It gets worse over time. If children are also present, they learn violence is "okay."

Characteristics of an Abuser:

  • Jealous
  • Controlling
  • Explosive temper
  • Critical of partner
  • Family history of violence
  • History of violent acts
  • Manipulative
  • Minimizes abuse incidents
  • Blames others for actions
  • Isolates victims
  • Cruelty to animals/children
  • Unpredictable behaviors

Who is the Victim?

  • Physically abused
  • Fears partner's behavior
  • Doesn't want to anger partner
  • Lives life on "tiptoes"
  • Apologizes for partner's behavior
  • 95% are women
  • Minimizes the violence
  • Wants to help partner
  • Has low self-esteem

This information was created by the Sacramento County District Attorneys Office, Anne Marie Schubert, District Attorney.

Types of Abuse

Domestic Violence can occur in different forms of abuse.

  • Physical - Hitting, slapping, kicking, shoving, pushing, shaking, biting and pinching.
  • Verbal/Emotional - Constant criticism, making humiliating remarks/name calling, ignoring what the victim is saying, mocking, yelling, interrupting, swearing, threats/intimidation, emotional withholding and degrading the victim
  • Sexual - Forcing sex on an unwilling partner, demanding sexual acts, forcing uncomfortable sex, criticizing sexual ability
  • Isolation - Keeping the victim from seeing family or friends, monitoring phone calls, reading mail and restricting victim's movements
  • Financial - Not paying the bills, refusing to buy food/necessities for the victim and/or family, not letting the victim have money or not letting the victim work
  • Coercion- Threatening the victim into decisions, manipulating children and other family members, always insisting on being right, making up impossible "rules" and punishing the victim and children for breaking them, self-destructive behavior, making the victim feel guilty
  • Harassment/ Stalking - Following or stalking, constantly checking up on the victim, multiple telephone calls and visits, and refusing to leave when asked.

Why do battered women stay?

  • Denial
  • Love
  • Children
  • Dependence
  • Hope of change
  • Financial
  • Isolation
  • Culture
  • Religion
  • Status
  • Language barriers
  • Pride
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of retaliation
  • Loneliness
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    This information was prepared by the Sacramento County District Attorney's Office, Anne Marie Schubert, District Attorney.