Domestic violence is the systematic use of techniques to gain power and maintain control over another person. Domestic violence differs from other forms of violence because the abuser and the victim are in a relationship. The broader definition includes any family relationship such as parent, child, sibling, intimate partner, or married couple. However, when most people referring to domestic violence they are referring to married or dating couples. Because of this some are now using the term “intimate partner violence” or “domestic abuse.” In addition to being between people who are in a close relationship, domestic violence is marked by is insidious nature. In other words, if you know what you are looking for you may see subtle signs at the beginning of a dating relationship but generally things are good in the beginning and become increasingly controlling and violent over time. As I say in every workshop, if your date punched you on the first date you probably would not go out for a second.
Domestic violence affects all communities. You don’t have to be a poor person of color to be a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence affects people of all colors and nationalities all backgrounds and socioeconomic classes. However, recent immigrants, women with little education and or lower economic standing are more vulnerable to the inadequate systems that are supposed to assist in gaining freedom than those fortunate enough to have money and or education. When you decide to leave you have more options if you have money or if you can get a job. However, professionals often hesitate to reach out for the help they need because of immense shame and the belief that somehow their money or education should have protected them from being in such a situation.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, between 1998 and 2002, 84% of spouse abuse victims were females, and 86% of victims of dating partner abuse were female. Therefore, approximately 15% percent of victims are men. That number is probably a bit higher given that men are even less likely to report domestic violence and that the types of abuse most likely to effect men, economic and emotional, are less likely to come to the notice of law enforcement. Gays, lesbians, transgender and transsexuals can also be victims; domestic violence does not discriminate. For simplicity sake this book usually refers to victims as women and abusers as men. If you are male, gay, lesbian, bisexuals, transgender, or transsexual please forgive my inability to write in a way that is more inclusive of your experiences. I have used the techniques in this book with lesbians and other victims that were not heterosexual females, therefore I hope that you too will be able to find this book supportive.
So once again domestic violence is the systematic use of techniques to gain power and maintain control over another person.