New York Domestic abuse survivor smiling & holding her baby.

Domestic Violence Fact Sheets

Domestic abuse is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over someone. It is a social problem that can affect anyone, regardless of race, gender, economic status, or religious background.

Fact Sheets
Know the Facts: Violence in the Lives of Women and Children
La Violencia Doméstica
Domestic Violence Fact Sheet
Teen Relationship Abuse
Teen: Power and Control Wheel

Recognizing Abuse
Abuse comes in many forms. And the results can be devastating. Learn to identify domestic abuse when you see it. It can include:

  • Physical Abuse: Slapping, punching, kicking, grabbing, pushing, shoving, choking, or any other action committed with the intention to cause physical harm.
  • Emotional or Mental Abuse: Extreme jealousy, possessiveness, controlling behavior, threatening behavior, belittling, blaming, intimidation, manipulation, or any other type of psychological pain.
  • Verbal Abuse: Name-calling, cursing, humiliating remarks, yelling or screaming, inappropriate jokes, and any other type of verbal harassment.
  • Sexual Abuse: Forced sex, rape, incest, molestation, unwanted sexual advances, harassment, pressuring or manipulating for sex, forcing victim to perform sexual acts (sometimes in exchange for money or with another person), forcing the use of alcohol or drugs during sex, or any other type of forced sexual behavior without consent of the victim.
  • Economic Abuse: Using money as tool of control and power; the use of a victim’s credit, identity, social security number, or name without consent; barring a victim from obtaining income, job, or education; stealing an individual’s identity; any other type of behavior that limits an individual’s ability to be self-sustaining.


Staying Safe
While no one can tell you when to leave an abusive partner, VIP can help you plan for your safety. Having a plan of action while you are in an abusive relationship can greatly reduce your risk of harm. Having a plan if you decide to leave is especially important—this is often the time when the potential for abuse increases. The following information does not guarantee your safety, but may help you reduce your risk of abuse or violence:

  • Identify your partner’s level of force and triggers: Try to avoid any potential situations in which your partner may become abusive.
  • Identify safe areas in your home: Find areas with easy escape routes and no potential weapons. Make your way to those areas during an argument.
  • If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target: Curl up into a ball and protect your face, torso, and head.
  • Let trusted friends, family, or neighbors know of your situation: With their assistance, develop a plan. Have an agreed upon signal that notifies them when you need help.
  • Call a domestic violence hotline: It’s important to speak to someone about your options and get emotional support. VIP is available 24/7, 365 days a year at 1-800-664-5880.


Addressing Abuse
Living with an abusive partner is not only frightening; it is physically and emotionally overwhelming. Survivors often find ways to address abuse, strategies to help them survive. Below is a list of things you can do to help deal with the stress and physical pain of abuse:

  • Seek professional help: The proper support system will help you deal with feelings of fear, anger, shame, anxiety, and depression and can link you to service providers in your area.
  • Be realistic about your options and plan accordingly: Leaving an abusive relationship is not always a viable option; leaving without a safety net may put you in even greater danger.
  • Avoid self-blame: Abuse is not your fault. Realize that you are not responsible for your partner’s behavior.
  • Remember that children are also victims of abuse: Children who witnesses or experience second-hand abuse may be unable to express their emotions of fear, anger, and sadness in a constructive way.  They may act out and require extra attention, support, love, and care.
  • Identify a safe place where your children can go: Reassure them that their job is to go there at the first sign of abuse, stay safe, and not to try and protect you.


Preparing to Leave an Abusive Relationship:
One you have made the decision to leave an abusive partner, take these steps to help reduce your risk of harm and minimize any economic dependence on an abuser:

  • Maintain any important documents: Hide passports, driver’s license, ID, or evidence of the abuse (such as photographs or voice recordings) in a secure location for quick access and to avoid discovery by abusive partner.
  • Notify someone you trust: Let someone know about your circumstances and your plan to leave.
  • Identify a safe place where your children can meet you: Be sure they know where to find you in case you’re separated during an argument or episode of abuse.
  • Try to save money: If possible, set money aside or ask trusted family/friends to hold money for you.
  • Contact a local domestic violence agency: Speak to someone about your options and resources. You can call our hotline anytime, day or night (1-800-664-5880).