Domestic Violence or abuse is any type of physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, emotional, or financial threat or action used to assert power and control over someone. These actions are meant to frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, humiliate, harm, or injure the person being abused.

Domestic violence is a pattern of this abuse in any relationship with an intimate partner or family member. Abusers seek power and control over their intimate partner through violent acts, threats, and humiliation. Although the majority of domestic violence victims are women, men can be victims too. In fact, abuse can and does happen to people of any sex, race, age, sexual orientation, religion, and socioeconomic background.

Domestic abuse often escalates over time. What starts out as threats and verbal abuse can quickly turn into violence. Violence in turn causes great emotional and psychological damage that can make victims feel helpless and alone. All forms of abuse are unacceptable, but often victims do not seek help because they do not recognize their relationship as abusive.  

What is Domestic Violence?

The Cycle of Abuse

The violence in abusive relationships tends to follow a distinct cycle: abusers go from hurting their victims, to making their victims feel guilty while creating excuses for their violent behavior. Next, they begin acting normal– as if the abuse never happened! While in this phase of normality, abusers often begin fantasizing about how they will abuse again.

Finally, abusers set up their victims for further abuse by tricking and blaming them for inconsequential things. For example, an abuser may ask his partner to buy groceries but impose unclear and unreasonable time constraints so that he can accuse her of taking too long and flirting with men at the store.

Clearly, abusers are asserting control over their victims with both violence and psychological games (

© 2014 Stearns County Domestic Violence Partnership

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