What is Domestic Abuse?

Know the facts

What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is a crime involving a pattern of abusive behavior used to establish power and control over a dating partner, spouse or other intimate partner through fear and intimidation, often including the threat of physical violence.

Domestic violence is not just physical abuse; behavior may be:

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Verbal
  • Sexual
  • Isolation from family & friends
  • Withholding of money
  • Using children
  • Financial
  • Any behavior that asserts power and/or control

The victim may be left feeling scared, confused, dependent and insecure. Children in homes where abuse takes place must contend with the same fears and realities.

To access services now, call our hotline at 203-622-0003.

How do I know if I am in an abusive relationship?


Does your partner:

  • Constantly criticize you and your abilities as a spouse or partner, parent or employee?
  • Behave in an over-protective manner or become extremely jealous?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or himself?
  • Prevent you from seeing family or friends?
  • Get suddenly angry or "lose his temper"?
  • Destroy personal property or throw things around?
  • Deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards, or the car, or control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
  • Use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
  • Hit, punch, slap, kick, shove, choke or bite you?
  • Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want and with whomever you want?
  • Make you have sex when you don't want to or do things sexually that you don't want to do?
  • Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people? Blame you for the hurtful things they say and do?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence. You are not to blame and you are not alone - millions of people are abused by their partners every year. You need not face domestic violence alone. You deserve help.

To access services now, call our hotline at 203-622-0003.

How do I know if I am abusive?

Do you:

  • Call your partner names?
  • Text or call them excessively and get upset when they don’t respond?
  • Monitor their email or social networking profiles?
  • Feel you have a right or need to know where they are most of the time?
  • Get jealous or angry when they spend time with friends or family?
  • Ask your partner to change their clothes or style of dress?
  • Get in their face during a disagreement, or intimidate by throwing things, punching the wall, etc?
  • Push, slap or hit them for any reason?
  • Restrain them to keep them from leaving?

If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may be abusive toward your partner and it is not OK.

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To access services now, call our hotline at 203-622-0003.


Domestic violence: Myths versus Facts


  • People who abuse their partners do so because they can’t control their anger.
  • Abusers choose violence as a means of gaining control over their partners. Usually, an abuser does not display violent behaviors or tendencies outside of the relationship, proving that they are very much in control.
  • Substance abuse use is one of the main causes of domestic violence.
  • While there is a strong correlation between substance use and domestic violence, substance abuse is NOT a cause of domestic violence. 
  • Alcohol and other substances can act as a disinhibitor, possibly resulting in a higher level of violence or an escalation from verbal to physical abuse. However, an abusive person is most likely to remain abusive, even when they are sober.
  • Domestic violence happens primarily in uneducated populations.
  • Domestic violence does not discriminate. People from all backgrounds, ethnicities, religions, races, socio-economic status and education levels are impacted by domestic violence equally.
  • Women and girls are the only victims of teen dating violence.
  • About 85% of victims of domestic violence are female, but that means that 15% are male.  The number of male victims is probably higher, because they are less likely to come forward.
  • If a child who is exposed to domestic violence does not show disruptive behaviors, it can be assumed that s/he is not being impacted by the violence.
  • Children might respond differently to witnessing or experiencing domestic violence. Some children may display regressive behaviors, while others become over-achievers, but each and every person is impacted.  
  • Victims of domestic violence are safer when they leave an abusive relationship than when they stay in it.
  • The most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence is when they initiate separation.
  • It is critical that victims have a safety plan when leaving an abusive relationship. After separation, the abuser may use additional tactics to try to control their partner, for example stalking, non-compliance with court orders and failure to
    pay child support.


To access services now, call our hotline at 203-622-0003.


Impact of domestic violence on adults and children

  • Physical injuries, threat of fatality
  • Emotional impact
  • Problems with other relationships, including parenting
  • Human cost: Productivity
  • Chronic medical treatment for health issues
  • Disturbance of eating or sleeping patterns
  • Substance abuse
  • Depression
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), emotional distress and exacerbation of existing mental illness
  • Chidlren who witness domestic abuse are more likely to repeat patterns of violence, engage in risky behaviors and
    have lower academic performance.

Why do people stay?

Women and men who stay in abusive relationships undergo gradual steps of reasoning to reconcile the abuse in their minds. The reasons they stay may change as the abuse in the relationship progresses.  It’s important to know that many victims don’t stay. Domestic Violence shelters across the state are usually full.

  • At first, they might stay because:

                     > They love their partners
                     > They believe their partners will change
                     > They believe that they can control the abuse by doing things that their partners want;
                          wearing certain clothes, keeping the house clean, keeping the children quiet.
                     > They are embarrassed for their partners and themselves
                     > They are afraid of what will happen if and when the police become involved

  • Later, they might stay because:

                    > They love their partners but are increasingly confused by that love
                    > They hope their partners will change or get help and believe their partner when they say
                          they will change
                    > They are under pressure from family and friends to stay
                    > They believe their partners love and need them
                    > They are afraid to be alone
                    > They believe they can’t support themselves
                    > They are confused
                    > They are increasingly scared of their partners’ behavior

  • Finally, they might stay because:

                    > Fear: Their partners have become incredibly powerful in their eyes
                    > The partners threaten to kill them, the children, their families or their friends
                    > They have developed low self esteem
                    > They believe that no one can help them
                    > They believe that they cannot survive alone
                    > They believe that no one will love them
                    > They are very confused and feel guilty
                    > They become depressed and immobile. Decisions are difficult and sometimes impossible
                         to make.
                    > They believe they have no options
                    >They have developed serious physical and/or emotional problems

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