Recognizing what behaviors are part of domestic violence is not always easy, even for victims themselves. This is, in part, because domestic violence is much more than physical abuse. In fact, many battered women who are controlled by their partners and who live in danger and fear have never been physically assaulted.

Understanding what domestic violence is means being aware of the many different things abusers do to control their partners. The following checklist of behaviors may help you decide if you or someone you know is being abused.

Does your partner…

Use emotional and psychological control?
  • Call you names, yell, put you down, make racial or homophobic slurs, or constantly criticize or undermine you and your abilities as a wife, partner or mother?
  • Behave in an overprotective way or become extremely jealous?
  • Make it difficult for you to see family and friends, or "bad-mouth" your family and friends?
  • Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you want to?
  • Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?
Use economic control?
  • Deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards or a car?
  • Control all the finances, force you to account for what you spend or take your money?
  • Prevent you from getting or keeping a job or from going to school?
  • Limit your access to health, prescription and/or dental insurance?
Make threats?
  • Threaten to report you to the authorities (the police, courts or child protective services) for something you didn't do?
  • Threaten to harm or kidnap the children?
  • Make you afraid by using looks, actions or gestures?
  • Display weapons as a way of making you afraid or directly threaten you with weapons?
  • Use anger or "loss of temper" as a threat to get you to do what he wants?
  • Threaten to expose your sexual orientation to friends, family or employer, if you are gay or lesbian?
  • Threaten to report you to INS or immigration?
Commit acts of physical violence?
  • Carry out threats to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends or himself?
  • Destroy personal property or throw things around?
  • Grab, push, hit, punch, slap, kick, choke or bite you?
  • Force you to have sex when you don't want to or to engage in sexual acts that you don't want to do?
  • Prevent you from taking medications or getting medical care?
  • Deny you access to food, fluids or sleep?
These are some of the most common tactics used by abusers to control their partners, they are but certainly not the only ones. If your partner does things that restrict your personal freedom or make you afraid, you may be a victim of domestic violence. To find help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE.
*Information from the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, Copyright © NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence.


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