Domestic Violence Overview

Physical and sexual violence against is a public health problem that has reached epidemic proportions. There are an estimated 8 to 12 million people in the United States who are at risk of being abused by their current or former intimate partners. This violence has serious physical, psychological, and social outcomes for the victims and their families.

Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner abuse, spouse abuse, or battering, is one facet of the larger problem of family violence. Family violence occurs among persons within family or other intimate relationships, and includes child abuse and elder abuse as well as domestic violence. Family violence usually results from the abuse of power or the domination and victimization of a physically less powerful person by a physically more powerful person.

Most research has focused on women who have been battered by male partners, and, in fact, women are more likely than men to be seriously injured by their partners. However, the terms spouse abuse and intimate partner abuse reflect an growing awareness that men also can be abused in intimate relationships and the violence occurring within gay and lesbian relationships.

Facts About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is characterized as a pattern of coercive behaviors that may include repeated battering and injury, psychological abuse, sexual assault, progressive social isolation, deprivation, and intimidation. Domestic violence cuts across all racial, religious, educational, and socioeconomic lines.

Forms of Abuse

Domestic violence is an ongoing, debilitating experience of physical, psychological, and/or sexual abuse associated with increased isolation from the outside world and limited personal freedom and accessibility to resources. Whenever a partner in the relationship is placed in physical danger or controlled by the threat or use of physical force, that person has been abused. The risk for abuse is greatest when the partner is separated from supportive networks.

Physical abuse is usually recurrent and escalates in both frequency and severity. It may include the following:

  • Pushing, shoving, slapping, punching, kicking, or choking
  • Assault with a weapon
  • Holding, tying down, or restraining
  • Leaving the partner in a dangerous place
  • Refusing to help when one is sick or injured

Emotional or psychological abuse may precede or accompany physical violence as a means of controlling, through fear and degradation. It may include the following:

  • Threats of harm
  • Physical and social isolation
  • Extreme jealousy and possessiveness
  • Intimidation, Degradation and humiliation
  • Name calling, constantly criticizing, insulting and belittling
  • False accusations, blaming the partner for everything
  • Ignoring, dismissing, or ridiculing the partners needs
  • Lying, breaking promises, and destroying trust
  • Driving fast and recklessly to frighten and intimidate

Sexual abuse in violent relationships is often the most difficult aspect of abuse for the partner to discuss. It may include any form of forced sex or sexual degradation, such as:

  • Trying to make the partner perform sexual acts against their will
  • Pursuing sexual activity when the partner is not fully conscious, or is not asked, or is afraid to say no
  • Hurting the partner physically
  • Coercing/forcing sexual activity without consent
  • Criticizing and using sexually degrading names

(Arch Fam Med. 1992; 1:39-47)

The Kraft Group has staff specialist that can work with the victims of inter partner violence as well as the abuser, please call 973-727-1597 to schedule a consultation.



American Medical Association Diagnostic and Treatment Guidelines on Domestic Violence. Arch Fam Med. 1992;1(1):39-47.


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