We will refer to the abusers as “he” and the victims as “she” due to the extremely high ratio of women reported as victims compared to men. However, we recognise that men are also victims of domestic

  • It usually starts with degrading behaviour, insults, put-downs. Verbal abuse escalates into physical violence to keep victim in line and instill fear.

  • Abuser blames victim for problems in the marriage, and takes little, if any, responsibility for his own actions.

  • Abuser insists on knowing victim’s every move, monitors phone calls, and often isolates her from family and friends.

  • Abuser makes victim financially dependent by controlling all finances; makes her a virtual prisoner by doling out money for necessities as they arise.

  • Abuser criticises her appearance, but refuses to give her money for clothing and hair care.

  • Abuser convinces the victim she is stupid, worthless, and unable to function without his help.

  • Victim walks on eggshells to avoid upsetting abuser, and often protects him by not telling anyone what really goes on in the home.

What is the difference between an occasional spat and domestic violence?

  • Domestic violence is a continuous pattern of behaviour which can be tracked over a period of time.

  • One partner dominates and controls the other through fear, humiliation, or assault.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic Violence is a repeated pattern of behaviour used to gain power and control over another human being through the use of intimidation, emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical assault, or sexual abuse. Emerge, a Boston counselling program for abusive men, defines domestic violence as “any act that causes the victim to do something she does not want to do, prevents her from doing something she does want to do, or causes her to be afraid.”


  • Threats of harm to partner or partner’s family and friends
  • Instilling fear

Emotional abuse

  • Humiliation
  • Manipulation
  • Withholding emotional support or using the silent treatment
  • Financial control
  • Undermining
  • Destroying pets or personal property
  • Deliberately causing confusion or mind control
  • Badgering
  • Deceiving or lying
  • Deprivation of sleep
  • Driving recklessly
  • Isolation from friends and family

Verbal abuse

  • Name calling
  • Shaming
  • Insulting
  • Ridiculing
  • Demeaning
  • Using words or voice to destroy self-worth
  • Accusing
  • Profanity

Physical assault

  • Slapping
  • Hitting
  • Punching
  • Choking
  • Shoving
  • Beating
  • Pinching
  • Pushing
  • Grabbing
  • Kicking
  • Pinning Down
  • Poking
  • Twisting limbs
  • Pulling hair
  • Burning
  • Binding
  • Chaining
  • Throwing things
  • Locking out
  • Restraining
  • Blocking exits
  • Attacking with an object
  • Use of deadly weapons

Sexual assault

  • Sexually degrading attitudes
  • Rape
  • Forcing someone to engage in frightening or unpleasant sexual acts
  • Forcing reproductive decisions
© 2004 FOCUS Ministries, Inc., www.focusministries1.org. Used with permission.

Brenda Branson and Paula Silva

Authors of *Violence Among Us: Ministry to Families in Crisis* and writers for Focus ministries Inc.

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