Domestic Violence


Also known as:

  • Dating Violence
  • Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)
  • Domestic/ Relationship Abuse

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used in a relationship to negatively gain and maintain power and control over a partner(s).

It can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

The abuse can be: 

  • Physical: any intentional use of physical touch to cause fear, injury, or assert control, such as hitting, shoving  and strangling
  • Sexual: any sexual activity that occurs without willing, active, unimpaired consent, such as unwanted sexual touch, sexual assault (rape & tampering with contraceptives)
  • Emotional/ verbal: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, screaming, constant monitoring or isolation
  • Financial: Exerting power and control over a partner through their finances, such as taking or withholding money from a partner, or prohibiting a partner from earning
  • Stalking: Being repeatedly watched, followed, monitored or harassed. Occurs online or in person & can include giving unwanted gifts
  • Digital (through technology): using technology to bully, stalk, threaten or intimidate a partner using texting, social media, apps, tracking, etc.
  • And more…


It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

One thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partner. 

Some of the signs of an abusive relationship include a partner who:

  • Tells you that you can never do anything right
  • Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members
  • Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs
  • Controls every penny spent in the household
  • Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses
  • Looks at you or acts in ways that scare you
  • Controls who you see, where you go, or what you do

  • Prevents you from making your own decisions
  • Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children
  • Prevents you from working or attending school
  • Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

Listen to episode 7 of The Family Table Podcast to hear from one man who used power and control in his home and the affects it had on his wife and children. Ben shares his experience in the Children's Bureau + Families First's Batterer's Intervention Program and discusses taking accountability for his actions.

Power and Control:

The Power and Control Wheel represents the experience of women who live with a man who uses violence in their relationship. It does not give a broad understanding of all violence in the home or community but instead offers a more precise explanation of the tactics men use to batter women. We keep our focus on women’s experience because the battering of women by men continues to be a significant social problem–men commit 86 to 97 percent of all criminal assaults and women are killed 3.5 times more often than men in domestic homicides.

When women use violence in an intimate relationship, the context of that violence tends to differ from men. Men’s use of violence against women is learned through many social and cultural avenues, while women’s use of violence does not have the same kind of societal support. Secondly, many women who do use violence against their male partners are responding to and resist the controlling violence being used against them. 

general STATS:

  • On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year.[i]
  • Nearly 3 in 10 women (29%) and 1 in 10 men (10%) in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by a partner and report a related impact on their< functioning.[ii]
  • Nearly, 15% of women (14.8%) and 4% of men have been injured as a result of IPV that included rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[iii]
  • 1 in 4 women (24.3%) and 1 in 7 men (13.8%) aged 18 and older in the United States have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[iv]
  • IPV alone affects more than 12 million people each year.[v]

  • More than 1 in 3 women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.[vi]
  • Nearly half of all women and men in the United States have experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime (48.4% and 48.8%, respectively).[vii]
  • Females ages 18 to 24 and 25 to 34 generally experienced the highest rates of intimate partner violence.[viii]
  • From 1994 to 2010, about 4 in 5 victims of intimate partner violence were female.[ix]
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76% of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49.[x]


  • Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) have been raped in their lifetime (by any perpetrator).[i]
  • More than half (51.1%) of female victims of rape reported being raped by an intimate partner and 40.8% by an acquaintance.[v]

  • For male victims, more than half (52.4%) reported being raped by an acquaintance, and 15.1% by a stranger.[vi]


• One in 6 women (16.2%) and 1 in 19 men (5.2%) in the United States have experienced stalking victimization at some point during their lifetime in which they felt very fearful or believed that they or someone close to them would be harmed or killed (by any perpetrator).[i]

• Two-thirds (66.2%) of female victims of stalking were stalked by a current or former intimate partner.[ii]

• Men were primarily stalked by an intimate partner or acquaintance (41.4% and 40%, respectively).[iii]

• Repeatedly receiving unwanted telephone calls, voice, or text messages was the most commonly experienced stalking tactic for both female and male victims of stalking (78.8% for women and 75.9% for men).[iv]

• An estimated 10.7% of women and 2.1% of men have been stalked by an intimate partner during their lifetime.[v]


  • About 35% of women who were raped as minors also were raped as adults compared to 14% of women without an early rape history.[iv]
  • Most female victims of completed rape (79.6%) experienced their first rape before the age of 25; 42.2% experienced their first completed rape before the age of 18 years.[v]
  • 43% of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse.[viii]
  • Nearly 1 in 3 (29%) college women say they have been in an abusive dating relationship.[ix
  • 1in 6 (16%) college women has been sexually abused in a dating relationship.[xvii]

  • 1 in 4 dating teens is abused or harassed online or through texts by their partners.[xviii]
  • Victims of digital abuse and harassment are 2 times as likely to be physically abused, 2.5 times as likely to be psychologically abused, and 5 times as likely to be sexually coerced.[xix]
  • Nearly 1 in 10 teens in relationships report to having a partner tamper with their social networking account (the most frequent form of harassment or abuse).[xx]
  • About 84% of victims are psychologically abused by their partners, half are physically abused, and one-third experiences sexual coercion.[xxii]

To learn more about teen dating violence or how to engage adolescents in these topics read this blog about Teen Dating Violence and  listen to The Family Table Podcast episode "Teen Dating: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly."


• A child witnessed violence in 22% (nearly 1 in 4) of intimate partner violence cases filed in state courts. [i]

• 30 to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household. [ii]

• There is a common link between domestic violence and child abuse. Among victims of child abuse, 40% report domestic violence in the home (from a WORLD REPORT).[iii]

• One study in North America found that children who were exposed to violence in the home were 15 times more likely to be physically and/or sexually assaulted than the national average.[iv]

• The U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect suggests that domestic violence may be the single major precursor to child abuse and neglect fatalities in this country.[v]

Click here for information about what to do if you if you suspect a child is being abused or if a child discloses abuse to you.


#1: Anger DOES NOT CAUSE domestic violence.

#2: People who use violence DO NOT “lose control” of their temper.

#3: Domestic violence occurs IN ALL POPULATIONS. It is not specific to a race, gender, financial status, or ethnicity.

#4: A person experiencing violence cannot always leave when they want to. It can be difficult, dangerous, or even life-threatening.

#5: Domestic violence is NOT JUST a women’s issue.

#6. Drugs and alcohol DO NOT CAUSE domestic violence.

how to support survivors:

  • Listen and believe and be a part of their safety plan:
  • Allow them to call you when they need assistance or a check in
  • What would help them feel safe?
  • Do they have a safe place to go?
  • Do they need assistance calling for help/calling 911?
    • Old cell phones can call 911 as long as they hold a charge.

  • Encourage them to pack a go-bag with essentials 
  • Be patient with them and offer continual support. There are a lot of dynamics involved in leaving and they are the experts on their own safety, it often takes multiple times for an individual to leave 

Safety Plan:

A Safety Plan is a set of actions someone can take whether they stay with their abusive partner, are preparing to leave the abuser or have already left the abuser. It can help identify ways of being more prepared to keep themselves (and their children and pets, if they have them) safe. 

For more information or help creating a Safety Plan call our main line, 317-634-6341, and ask to speak with an advocate for Domestic Violence services.

Children's Bureau + Families First SERVICES:

At Children's Bureau + Families First, the advocacy team can help support individuals experiencing violence in their relationships. Advocates can help provide community resources, such as access to shelters and affordable food. Advocates can also assist survivors in filing a protective order, as well as attend court hearings, whether that is for protective order, divorce, criminal, or another court hearing. Advocates can make referrals for other social services in the area as well as referrals for legal representation – divorce; paternity; protective order; custody; etc. Advocates can also safety plan with each survivor on an individualized basis and provide ongoing positive support, while connecting them to support groups and survivor counseling, if interested. 


Call our main line, 317-634-6341, and ask to speak with the Program Assistant for Domestic Violence services.

National Domestic Violence Hotline

1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522

Available 24 hours, 7 days a week
 In English and Spanish, with access to more than 170 languages