What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual intended to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate or family relationship.

How do I recognize domestic violence?

It may be domestic violence if your partner or your friend’s partner:

  • Acts very controlling
  • Insults you, makes fun of you, or puts you down in front of other people
  • Loses temper by throwing, striking, or breaking objects
  • Acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to you
  • Controls your finances
  • Influences who you see socially
  • Blocks doors or grabs you to prevent you from leaving

It may be domestic violence if you or a friend:

  • becomes quiet when partner is around and seems afraid of making partner upset.
  • stops seeing friends and family members and becomes more and more isolated
  • has unexplained injuries, or the explanations offered don’t add up (Sometimes you will not see any bruises, as abusers target their abuse to areas that can be covered with clothing.)
  • casually mentions their partner’s violent behavior but dismisses what happened as “not a big deal.”
  • often cancels plans at the last minute.
  • is subject to control over their finances, behavior and social plans
  • has a child who is frequently upset or very quiet and withdrawn

What is intimate partner violence?

Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) is defined as  physical, sexual, and/or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among opposite-sex or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.

What should I do if I am experiencing domestic or intimate partner violence? 

Domestic and intimate partner violence may result in feelings of frustration, embarrassment, confusion and hopelessness. You may want to consider sharing your situation with someone you trust. You are not alone, and the staff at YWCA Richmond are available to assist, as well as connect you with available community resources. We have experienced staff who are dedicated to assisting you with exploring your options.

  • If you are being abused, you may call the Greater Richmond Regional Hotline at 804-612-6126, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
  • If you are in immediate danger, try to call 9-1-1.
  • Also, avoid being trapped in the kitchen with the abuser (too many potential weapons) or the bathroom (too many hard surfaces).
  • Do not threaten your abuser with a weapon – it can easily be turned against you.
  • Try to proceed with your safety plan when you are ready to leave.

What is a safety plan?

Click here to learn more about how to create a safety plan.

A safety plan can help you cope with the emotional, physical and financial demands of leaving an abusive partner. Even if you feel that your partner will never be abusive to you again, it’s important to be prepared. Having a safety plan will ensure that you and your children will be as safe as possible and have everything that you need, in the event that you need to flee. You can learn more about safety planning here on our website, or call the Greater Richmond Regional Hotline at 804-612-6126.

How prevalent are domestic and intimate partner violence?*

  • Every 9 seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined
  • Everyday in the US, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
  • Domestic violence is one of the most chronically under-reported crimes
  • Only approximately 1/4 of all physical assaults, 1/5 of all rapes, and 1/2 of all stalking incidents perpetuated against females by intimate partners are reported to the police.
  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose nearly 8 million days of paid work per year in the U.S. alone—the equivalent of 32,000 full-time jobs
  • Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup
  • Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

* Statistics indicate prevalence surrounding violence toward women, however both women and men are impacted by violence (and served by YWCA Richmond’s programs).