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What Is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence, also known as partner abuse, is a pattern of behavior used to establish non-consensual power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. While the abuse may cause injury, it does not have to be physical. Domestic violence also takes the form of emotional, verbal, sexual, technological, cultural and financial abuse.


Domestic violence affects people of all races, ethnicities, gender and sexual identities, abilities and socio-economic classes.


Partner abuse happens when one person believes that they are entitled to control another. Assault, battering, and domestic violence are crimes

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call DOVE's hotline at 

617-471-1234 or 888-314-3683

What Does Abuse Include?


Abuse may begin with behaviors that may easily be dismissed or downplayed such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness, or distrust. Abusers may apologize profusely for their actions or try to convince the person they are abusing that they do these things out of love or care. However, violence and control always intensifies over time with an abuser, despite the apologies. What may start out as something that was first believed to be harmless (e.g., wanting the victim to spend all their time only with them because they love them so much) escalates into extreme control and abuse (e.g., threatening to kill or hurt the victim or others if they speak to family, friends, etc.). Some examples of abusive tendencies include but are not limited to:


  • Jealousy

  • Cruelty to Animals or Children 

  • Controlling Behavior

  • “Playful” Use of Force in Sex 

  • Quick Involvement

  • Verbal Abuse

  • Unrealistic Expectations

  • Rigid Sex Roles

  • Isolation

  • Past Battering

  • Threats of Violence

  • Breaking or Striking Objects

  • Hypersensitivity

  • Any Force During an Argument

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  • Blaming others for problems or feelings

Is Domestic Violence Always Physical Abuse?

It is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call DOVE's hotline at 

617-471-1234 or 888-314-3683

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