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Domestic Violence is the illegitimate use of physical force and/or control tactics within a relationship that is intimate, familial or cohabitating. There are several types of domestic violence, including INTIMATE TERRORISM and SITUATIONAL COUPLE VIOLENCE.

INTIMATE TERRORISM is the use of physical abuse plus a broad range of tactics designed to get and keep control over the other person in the relationship. Intimate terrorists (also known as batterers or abusers) are usually men and their victims are usually female, although intimate terrorism also occurs in same sex relationships. Some intimate terrorists are called “emotionally dependent” or “pitbulls”, and are so desperately attached to their victims that they engage in violence in order to keep them. Other intimate terrorists are called “sociopathic” or “cobras” and seek to dominate and control many aspects of their lives, including their relationships.

Intimate terrorists utilize several forms of abuse to gain power:

EMOTIONAL ABUSE includes name-calling, put downs, public humiliation, mind games, threats, setting rules and changing them at will, and threats to harm friends, family members and pets.

SEXUAL ABUSE includes forced sex, rape, demands to perform sexual acts against one’s will, treating a partner like a “sex object,” etc.

PHYSICAL ABUSE includes hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, shoving, hair-pulling, restraining, biting, using weapons, using household objects as weapons, strangling, etc.

COERCIVE CONTROL includes isolation, making rules for everyday activities, forcing someone to do things they have a right to refuse or preventing someone to do things they have a right to do such as sleeping, bathing, changing clothes or taking medicine.

Physical abuse will generally escalate in severity and frequency until the abuser believes that he has control over his victim. Then the physical abuse will often taper off or even stop; however coercive control and emotional abuse typically remain constant. Even at times when the victim is not being physically abused, she may still be in danger if the abuser perceives that he is losing control over her. The absence of physical injury does NOT mean that the victim is safe!

In contrast to intimate terrorism, SITUATIONAL COUPLE VIOLENCE is the use of physical force without a context of control. People who engage in situational couple violence tend to be poor communicators who don’t know how to fight without resorting to verbal aggression and name calling or physical abuse such as hitting, shoving or damaging property. Both men and women engage in situational couple violence. Situational couple violence is much more common than intimate terrorism. Although situational couple violence is harmful, intimate terrorism is the type of domestic violence that accounts for most serious injury and death.

Domestic Violence does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life, regardless of age, race, religious beliefs, educational background, income or sexual orientation.