A Comprehensive Guide to Domestic Abuse


Domestic Abuse GuideDomestic abuse is one of the most significant problems in American homes today. This topic may exist in secrecy, but that does not detract from the impact the violence brings upon its victims. Domestic abuse can happen in a mental or physical level and it involves one person in a relationship establishing control over the other. Whether the control comes from assault, stalking, psychological manipulation, or sexual abuse, it is powerful enough to render the victim terrified, helpless, paranoid and depressed.

In most cases, a female will be the victim of abuse from the male in the relationship, but that is not always the case. Any relationship can result in abuse from either party, even if the couple is married, straight, gay, separated, dating, divorced, or parental. Due to the sensitivity and psychological manipulation that comes along with domestic abuse, most cases go unreported. This makes it difficult for society to understand, prevent, and respond to the problem. In the list below provided by AspiringNurse.com, you will find links to myths, resources, treatment programs and general statistics about domestic violence.

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Statistics on Domestic Abuse

To get a full view of domestic violence and its prominence in America, you need to look at the numbers. This list shows a comprehensive look at household abuse through the use of researched statistics in the country.

  • 95% of domestic abuse victims in America are female. (Resource: The Riley Center)
  • Approximately 1.3 million people in the U.S. suffer from domestic violence every single year. (Resource: American Bar Association)
  • An estimated 1 in 3 women in America will experience sexual or physical abuse in their lives as a result of a husband, fiancé, or boyfriend. (Resource: DomesticViolence.org)
  • On average, $1.4 billion a year is spent on medical bills as a result of domestic violence. An additional $900 million is spent on in mental health treatment. (Resource: The Riley Center)
  • In 1996, approximately 33% of murdered females in America were killed by their husbands or boyfriends. (Resource: DomesticViolence.org).
  • Among the men who abuse women, 40-60% also abuse the children in their lives. (Resource: DomesticViolence.org)

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Types of Domestic Abuse

Abuse has many phases, and some people face more than one at any given time. Each form of abuse requires a unique treatment plan, and each form exemplifies different signs to watch out for. The list below defines some of the most common forms of domestic violence in the United States.

  • Emotional Abuse: Emotional abuse does not deal with the physical body. It happens entirely in the mind, where one member of the relationship seeks to control the other’s way of thinking. Emotional abuse commonly comes in the form of verbal degradation, intimidation, threats, and controlling behavior. All of these tactics can lead the victim to feel worthless, trapped, and helpless in the relationship. (Resource: Help Guide)
  • Financial Abuse: Financial abuse is a subdivision of emotional abuse that involves one person in a relationship controlling the money of the other. The abuser may do this by controlling a bank account, ruining a victim’s job, withholding money, removing basic necessities, or running up debt in a victim’s name. This can cause a victim to feel dependent on the controller since he or she provides the source of life for the household. (Resource: Help Guide)
  • Physical Abuse: Physical abuse is a bodily encounter in a relationship, such as battery, assault, restraint, or any other form of violence related to the exterior. Anything that results in pain or injury is considered physical abuse, including pinching, punching, cutting, beating, pelting, kicking, and more. The signs of physical abuse are sometimes noticeable through scarring or bruising, but many instances of the problem go unnoticed and unreported because of a lack of evidence. Physical abuse is often paired with mental manipulation, to the point that victims will blame themselves for the problem. These people will make excuses for any visible markings, claiming that they fell down a flight of stairs or accidentally ran into a bed. Abused me in particular are usually too ashamed to come forward about their experiences, but women also keep this issue a secret out of embarrassment. That makes diagnosis, treatment, and prevention difficult at best. (Resource: Mama’s Health)
  • Sexual Abuse: Sexual abuse is a form of domestic violence that involves unsafe, unwanted, or degrading sexual activity. Rape and any forms of forced sex (even in the case of consensually sexual relationships) can be considered sexual abuse. Even if the problem only comes up once or twice in a relationship, it is more likely than not to occur again in the future. (Resource: Breaking the Silence: a Handbook for Victims of Violence in Nebraska)
  • Stalking: Stalking is an incident where one person monitors the conversations and activities of another person without the first’s knowledge. Contrary to popular belief, approximately 70-80% of all stalking cases are the result of a domestic case, and only 10-20% involve total strangers. In domestic cases, one person will usually try to control the future relationships of another. This follows the theory of “If I can’t have you, no one will.” The stalker will watch over, intimidate, and harass his or her ex because he or she cannot get over the relationship. While the process of stalking is illegal, it can often be the result of semi-legal acts, such as sending gifts, making phone calls, and gathering general information. That makes stalking cases notably difficult to prosecute through the judicial system. The steps in the stalking process are legal on their own, but they become illegal after continuous repetition. (Resource: Stalking Behavior)

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Myths of Domestic Abuse

Because domestic violence is kept mainly behind closed doors, society has developed a set of myths that are not necessarily based in fact. To fully understand this problem and its solutions, you need to know the truth from every angle. Here is a list of myths and realities related to domestic abuse, courtesy of DomesticViolence.org:

Myth: Domestic abuse could never happen to me.
Truth: You may assume that you do not live in a community where domestic violence would be a concern, but this abuse can happen to anyone at any time. Don’t just to the conclusion that this exclusively applies to “other people.” A study by the Department of Justice showed that close to 25% of women and 7.6% of men go through rape or physical abuse in their lifetimes as a result of a relationship. (Resource: Commission on Domestic Violence)

Myth: Some people deserve to be abused.
Truth: In no case is a victim the cause of an abuse case. The blame rests solely on the abuser. Even if one person seemingly provokes the other to act violently, abuse of any kind is always considered illegal.

Myth: Domestic abuse is the result of mental illness, stress, alcoholism or drug abuse.
Truth: These factors increase the risk and severity of domestic violence, but they are not the causes. Abusers make a conscious decision to terrorize their victims, even if they justify their actions with alcohol, drugs, or mental lapses.

Myth: Domestic abuse only happens between a husband and a wife.
Truth: Domestic abuse does not exclusively occur in married households. It involves relationships of all makes and levels.

Myth: It is easy for victims to walk away from an abusive situation.
Truth: in some cases, leaving an abusive relationship can be just as troublesome as staying in one. The Department of Justice’s National Crime Victim Survey suggests that women are often more in danger after leaving a relationship than they are when they are in one. This action may provoke the abuser to do something even more violent than the abuse itself. Victims stay in abusive relationships for fear of the aftermath, even if they no longer want to be in them.

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The Cycle of Violence

According to HelpGuide.org, domestic abuse often follows a standard pattern of abuse called “the cycle of violence.” In this cycle, each step in an abusive setting leads to another, more abusive situation in the future. This becomes a never-ending series of actions that must be broken to reverse. The steps in the cycle of violence are as follows:

  • Abuse: The first stage in the cycle is abuse. The abuser uses violence and aggression toward a victim to gain control over the relationship.
  • Guilt: In this stage, the abuser does not feel guilty about what he or she is doing. The guilt comes from the feeling that he or she will get caught. Attempting to maintain his or her relationship and general control within it, the abuser will return to normal behavior and make excuses for his or her actions. He or she will apologize, make false promises, deny the violence, or blame the victim for the problem. This often makes the victim stay around, assuming that the abuser has changed.
  • Setup: This is the final stage of the cycle before it spirals back to abuse. The abuser will begin to grow tired of normal behavior, and he or she will think of things that the victim has done wrong in the relationship. Then he or she will try to set the person up for another round of abuse in the future.

The cycle of violence may last for years, or it may occur in a matter of hours. That just depends on the circumstances surrounding a relationship. This may not describe every domestic abuse case in America, but it provides a general overview of the thought processes and events that are likely to occur along the way.

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General Resources on Domestic Abuse

The following resources provide a general look at domestic abuse, along with tips on how to spot, overcome, and prevent it in the future.

  • Help Guide: This link provides an overview of domestic violence, including information about the specific forms of abuse surrounding the problem. It goes over the cycle of violence, as well as ways to recognize, analyze, and prevent domestic abuse.
  • American Bar Association: This link features a Commission on Domestic Violence, where you can read publications, surveys, and statistics about sexual assault, stalking, and trafficking.
  • AARDVARC: This link goes to “An Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence Aid and Resolution Center.” The site was created to help abuse victims overcome their past and current situations. It features information about abusive relationships, stalking, sexual violence, and national support services.
  • Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence: This link represents a national nonprofit organization devoted to reducing he impact of domestic violence on a victim’s career. The site offers policies legislation, advice, programs, and help materials for domestic abuse.
  • The Violence Wheel: This resource is courtesy of DomesticViolence.org. The Violence Wheel shows techniques abusers often use to gain control of their relationships. It also shows how physical violence relates to other forms of abuse.
  • DomesticViolence.org: This link provides a comprehensive guide to the personal and legal you may use to address, overcome, and prevent abusive experiences. It also features information about typical victims and abusers to help people identify abusive situations in their own lives.
  • Family Violence Prevention Fund: This link goes to an organization that promotes community abuse prevention to minimum domestic violence in the world. It specifically focuses on the abuse of women and children, and but it offers information about health care, families, teens, immigrant women, employment, and the legal system.
  • National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: This resource provides domestic violence survivors, activists, advocates, service providers, and allies with a community to connect with one another. The purpose of the community is to combat domestic violence through education, public policy, and support.
  • Department of Justice, Office of Violence Against Women: This link represents a division of the U.S. Department of Justice. This group provides national resources on ways to reduce violence against women. It offers education about sexual assault, domestic abuse, stalking, and dating violence.
  • Stop Family Violence: This link aims to create a national movement against domestic violence in the hope of igniting change in America. The site empowers visitors to take action at the national, state, and local level through support and education.
  • Women’s Law: This resource offers a clear overview of laws and legal actions women may use against their abusers. Additionally, this site has a state-by-state link list of resources for female abuse victims and survivors.

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General Resources on Sexual Assault and Rape

Sexual abuse is a subdivision of domestic abuse that involves forced sexual activity. The list below contains resources related to sexual assault and rape in relationships.

  • AWARE: AWARE stands for Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment. This is an organization that trains women in physical and verbal self-defense skills so they can avoid dangerous situations. This site also contains has links to other resources about rape and sexual assault, including a list of lawyers and experts available for consultation.
  • RAINN: Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network: This is a nonprofit organization that offers a popular sexual assault hotline. The organization meets with the media on a regular basis to raise awareness about sexual abuse, and it lobbies for stricter rules regarding abuse as a whole. Furthermore, the organization holds fundraisers to benefit abuse victims, and it offers a lot of information about different forms of domestic abuse.
  • National Sexual Violence Resource Center: This organization is America’s primary resource center for matters relating to sexual assault.

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General Resources on Emotional Abuse

Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse, even if it does not bruise on the surface. The following resources offer advice on how to recognize, combat, and avoid emotional abuse in your relationships.

  • EQI.org: This site has a full section devoted to emotional abuse, and it offers a comprehensive assessment about the different types of emotional abuse.
  • Symptoms of Emotional Abuse: This site is unique because it has separate sections for men and women. Each section discusses the warning signs of emotional abuse, along with a list of characteristics often associated with abusers.

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General Resources on Stalking

Stalking is a problem that mostly occurs in separated relationships. One person cannot get over the other, so he or she chooses to become inappropriately involved with the ex’s life. If you are the victim of a stalker or you feel the possibility of stalking in your future, the resources below are here to assist you.

  • Stalking Awareness Month: This link is all about national stalking awareness month, which occurs in January every year. It provides great resources about stalking and stalking prevention, which you can access all throughout the year.
  • Cyberangels: This site is devoted to internet stalking, and it is available through the Cyberangels Internet Safety Program. It features support groups and preventative tips for people who have undergone online harassment and cyberstalking.
  • The National Center for Victims of Crime: This resource offers information on the impact of stalking, stalking laws, stalking victimization, and actions victims can take against their stalkers.
  • Stalking Behavior: This site provides a detailed definition of stalking. It offers articles showing how to identify a stalker and tips to deal with any situation that comes up. Furthermore, the site has a list of links to legal resources victims may use to improve their circumstances.

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Places to Get Help

Sometimes all an abuse victim needs is a little assistance to make his or her life better. That is what the following resources provide. Read on to get the help you make need if you are ever in an abusive relationship.

  • Domestic Violence Safety Plan: This is a guide from the American Bar Association’s that shows the steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from abuse in all areas of life.
  • FindCounseling.Org: This site offers a thorough overview of the behaviors affiliated with physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, along with information on how to report and avoid domestic abuse in the future. You may also use this site to find domestic violence help lines in your area.
  • The Joyful Heart Foundation: This organization is devoted to improving the lives of domestic abuse victims and survivors. It does this through workshops, seminars, programming, and education.
  • National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: This is a special website for teens in abusive relationships. It shows the warning signs of abuse and the steps teens can take to find help for their situations. The NTDAH also offers teens a chance to work with peer advocates who are able to discuss matters of the relationship in confidence.
  • Mayo Clinic: This site is well-known for providing general health information, and this section offers information about the patterns of domestic violence, including ways to recognize them in your own life. The site also offers tips to create a safety plan and a plan of escape in abusive situations.
  • State Coalition List: This is a state-by-state list of phone numbers, street addresses, and email addresses for abuse support and protection agencies.
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: This is a nonprofit organization that operates a confidential hotline for abuse victims. The hotline is open 24 hours a day, and it gives victims a place to receive support and advice for their situations.

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