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Mental Health Center

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Domestic Abuse - Topic Overview

Everyone gets angry from time to time. Anger and arguments are normal parts of healthy relationships. But anger that leads to threats, hitting, or hurting someone is not normal or healthy. This is a form of abuse. Physical, verbal, or sexual abuse is not okay in any relationship. When it occurs between spouses or partners or in a dating relationship, it is called domestic abuse.

Domestic abuse is also called intimate partner violence or domestic violence. It is not the same as an occasional argument. It is a pattern of abuse used by one person to control another.

In addition to violence between intimate partners:

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, at any age, no matter what race or religion people are, no matter what their level of education is or how much money they make. Both men and women experience domestic abuse. It is a common form of violent behavior and is a major problem in the United States.

Does your partner:

  • Embarrass you with put-downs?
  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you?
  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go?
  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?
  • Take your money or paychecks, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?
  • Make all of the decisions?
  • Tell you that you're a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children?
  • Prevent you from working or going to school?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal or is your fault, or even deny doing it?
  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets?
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives, or other weapons?
  • Shove you, slap you, choke you, or hit you?
  • Threaten to commit suicide?
  • Threaten to kill you?
  • Prevent you from using birth control or from protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV?

If any of these things are happening, you need to get help. It's important to know that you are not alone. The way your partner acts is not your fault. There is no excuse for domestic violence. Help is available.

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