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What Is Domestic Violence?


   People often think of domestic violence only in terms of the black eyes and bruises that can be seen. In reality, domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors that abusive men use to control their intimate partners. As adaptive and resilient as they are, women who have been battered nevertheless face a daunting number of barriers to escaping the violence. In addition to the very real threat of harm or death to themselves or their children, victims must contend with the accompanying financial and emotional hardship. They also often weigh cultural and religious values that emphasize keeping families intact, and respond to the violence in spite of justice and social service systems that don’t always provide adequate safety and support.

  People who have never experienced abuse often find it difficult to imagine why women don’t leave and how the abuse can continue for years. Relationships almost never start out abusive. It is important to remember that love and intimacy precede the abuse, which can make it difficult to break away. Abusive relationships are not violent all the time. There are periods when a woman is reminded why she fell in love with her partner. Abusers effectively weave together intimacy and abuse to control their partners.

Women who have been battered sometimes express confusion about the recurring nature of the violence they experience in their relationship. It seems to them to be unpredictable and impulsive. Domestic violence, however, is neither random nor haphazard. It is a complex pattern of increasingly frequent and harmful physical, sexual, psychological and other abusive behaviors used to control the victim. The abuser’s tactics are devised and carried out precisely to control her.


Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Publication “Understanding the Nature and Dynamics of Domestic Violence” Pg 1


The unknown is a little scary. Your next step is your decision. We want you to know that you have options. If you chose to leave we can walk you through that process, try to help explain what it might look like, and/or help you find resources to aid in the process. If you choose to stay , again that decision is up to you and we will not judge you. We just want to make sure that you are safe and you know we are here for you. Both decisions are yours alone to make, we can help inform you but will not be able to make the decision for you. The one thing we do want to do no matter what your decision is , is come up with a safety plan with you. The following pages are resources to help you plan for your next step. If you have any questions at any time please feel free to reach out to us.

Approximately 47 percent of women and men have experienced at least one form of psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetimes (Breiding et al., 2014).

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