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Home The Issue Domestic Violence

What Is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of escalating abusive, controlling and violent behavior toward a partner in an intimate relationship. The behavior can take many forms, from verbal abuse to threats, isolating the victim from family and friends, intimidation, financial control, sexual violence, physical violence, stalking, damaging property or threatening to harm the victim's family members, children or pets. Abusers will sometimes threaten to harm themselves as a way of making victims feel guilty. The abuse can happen on a regular basis, or only sporadically.

Domestic violence can occur in intimate relationships between people of any age, ethnic group, profession, religious affiliation, socio-economic status or sexual orientation, whether or not they are married or living together.

Although both men and women can be victims, it is an issue affecting primarily women: the vast majority of victims are female. It occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships. For more info about domestic violence in same-sex relationships, visit The Network/La Red or Gay Men's Domestic Violence Project.

Data about Domestic Violence
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence will affect one in four women at some point in their lifetime.

The Domestic Violence Unit of the Boston Police Department reported that in 2009, they made over 5,000 domestic violence-related arrests and served over 4,000 restraining orders.
Our SafeLink statewide hotline answers nearly 100 calls a day

In Massachusetts, an annual one-day survey conducted by the National Network to End Domestic Violence revealed that on September 15th, 2010, there were 750 women and children in the state living in emergency or transitional shelter programs as a result of domestic violence. That day, 1,048 adults and children in Massachusetts received some form of supportive services to address and take steps to end the domestic violence in their lives. There were 766 unmet requests for services reported.

Further information and statistics about domestic violence:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
World Health Organization

What Does Domestic Violence Cost?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that the annual cost of domestic violence in the US, excluding any court-related expenses, exceeds $8 billion annually for direct medical and mental health care and indirect costs due to lost productivity. Every year, victims lose almost 8 million days of paid work, the equivalent of 32,000 full time jobs.

What Are The Signs?
Though every situation is different, the following types of behavior by an intimate partner are signs of an abusive relationship:

  • Is extremely jealous or possessive
  • Controls your finances, what you wear, where you go, and who you see
  • Demands that you turn over your paycheck to him/her
  • Tells you that nothing you do is worthwhile
  • Tells you that you will never amount to anything and no one else would want you
  • Constantly belittles you for the way you look
  • Tries to control your spiritual or religious life; humiliates you for your beliefs
  • Is violent; has a history of harming household members, including pets
  • Has hit, pushed, choked, restrained, kicked, slapped or otherwise struck you
  • Threatens to kill you or commit suicide
  • Pressures you to have sex, take drugs or drink alcohol
  • Blames you for his/her bad behavior, accuses you of causing it
  • Destroys your property
  • Threatens to "out" you if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
  • If you are an immigrant, threatens to have you deported

Click here to see the power and control wheel for detailed examples of the tactics abusers use to gain and maintain power and control in a relationship

What Can I Do?
If you and/or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence or you are concerned about your or another's safety, call our SafeLink statewide hotline for help at 877-785-2020.

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