Domestic Abuse and violence is any kind of behaviour that a person uses to control an intimate partner through fear and intimidation. It includes physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, and economic abuse. Some examples of domestic abuse include battering, name-calling and insults, threats to kill or harm one’s partner or children, destruction of property, marital rape, and forced sterilisation or abortion.

— USCCB, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

When I Call for Help?

The threat of and/or the use of violence or intimidation in a relationship is a way to gain and maintain power and control over another person. Domestic Violence does not discriminate. Individuals in any community, regardless of age, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, or nationality can be a victim of domestic violence. Abuse can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and in extreme cases, even death. The destructive physical, emotional, and psychological consequences of domestic violence can outstretch generations and last a lifetime.

People who abuse may initially appear to be caring and wonderful, but gradually become more aggressive and controlling as the relationship continues. Violence often begins with behaviors that may easily be dismissed or downplayed, such as name-calling, threats, possessiveness, or distrust. An abuser might apologize for their actions or try to convince you they do these things out of love. However, the violence and control may intensify over time with an abuser, despite the apologies.

Domestic violence does not always involve 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.

When a woman is a victim of assault (either sexual, physical or both) it is most likely done by a spouse, boyfriend, family member or friend. The supposed “normal” reaction to fight or flight is replaced by confusion and despair. Instead of reacting rationally to their own survival, victims are confused by the betrayal and no longer trust their own emotions and instincts.

It is important to know that domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship, and/or seeks help. Sometimes the abuse intensifies because the abuser feels a loss of control over the victim. Abusers frequently continue to stalk, harass, threaten, and try to control the victim after the victim escapes. In fact, the victim is often in the most danger directly following the escape of the relationship or when they seek help.

Bringing an end to abuse is not a matter of the victim choosing to leave; it is a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser, the abuser choosing to stop the abuse, or others (e.g., law enforcement, courts) holding the abuser accountable for the abuse they inflict.

Survivors need to tell their story, release what has been done to them and receive the support from loved ones and the counseling that will help them expose the shame, fear and guilt and learn to live normal, healthy lives. The more a survivor can talk the more she will heal.

Am I Being Abused?

It can be hard to know if you’re being abused. Below is a list of possible signs of abuse. Some of these are illegal. All of them are wrong. You may be abused if your partner:

  • Monitors what you’re doing all the time

  • Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful all the time

  • Prevents or discourages you from seeing friends or family

  • Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school

  • Gets very angry during and after drinking alcohol or using drugs

  • Controls how you spend your money

  • Controls your use of needed medicines

  • Decides things for you that you should be allowed to decide (like what to wear or eat)

  • Humiliates you in front of others
  • Destroys your property or things that you care about

  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, or pets

  • Hurts you (by hitting, beating, pushing, shoving, punching, slapping, kicking, or biting)

  • Uses (or threatens to use) a weapon against you

  • Forces you to have sex against your will

  • Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant

  • Blames you for his or her violent outbursts

  • Threatens to harm himself or herself when upset with you

  • Says things like: “If I can’t have you then no one can.”

If you think someone is abusing you, get help. Abuse can have serious physical and emotional effects. No one has the right to hurt you.

—Excerpt from and Women Healing the Wounds, National Council of Catholic Women.

Power and Control Wheel

Facts about Domestic Violence

  • On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men.1
  • Every 9 seconds in the US, a woman is assaulted or beaten.2
  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.3
  • On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.4
  • 1 in 7 women and 1 in 18 men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime to the point in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed.1
  • Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.2

Domestic Violence in North Carolina

  • There were 108 domestic violence-related homicides in 2013 in North Carolina. Around two people died per week from domestic violence in 2013.
  • In North Carolina in 2013, more than 75 percent of the perpetrators of domestic violence-related homicides were male. This is consistent with national data that show males are often the perpetrators of serious cases of domestic violence.
  • 1,678 victims were served in a single day in North Carolina in 2014 – 860 domestic violence victims (432 children and 428 adults) found refuge in emergency shelters or transitional housing provided by local domestic violence programs.
  • In a 24-hour survey period in 2014 in North Carolina, local and state hotlines answered 637 calls, averaging more than 26 hotline calls every hour.
  • —Statistics from the National Coalition against Domestic Violence.