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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can happen among family members and between couples who are married, living together, or who are dating.

What Does Abuse Looks Like?

  • Abuse is a repetitive pattern of behaviors to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. These are behaviors that physically harm, arouse fear, prevent someone from doing what they wish, or force them to behave in ways they do not want. Many different forms of abuse can be going on at any one time.
  • It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive. Abusive family members or partners may seem completely happy and content in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t usually appear overnight, but rather can emerge and intensify as a relationship progresses. Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. One thing that most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner or family member does many kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.
  • Different forms of abuse include:
    1. Physical Abuse
    2. Emotional Abuse
    3. Sexual Abuse
    4. Financial Abuse

If you feel that a partner, spouse, family member, relative, or friend is becoming abusive, there are some behaviors that you can look out for.  If you’re seeing or experiencing these behaviors, call or text us to visit with an advocate.  You may be experiencing an abusive relationship if your partner or family member has done or repeatedly does the following actions:

Physical Abuse

  • Harming you in any way
  • Pulling your hair
  • Punching, pushing, slapping, kicking, biting, or choking you
  • Forbidding or preventing you from eating or sleeping
  • Damaging your property (especially while they’re angry) by throwing objects, punching walls, kicking doors, etc.
  • Using a weapon as a threat or hurting you with a gun, knife, or other weapon
  • Trapping you in your home or keeping you from leaving
  • Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
  • Harming your children
  • Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
  • Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past).
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol

Emotional Abuse

  • Embarrassing you in public
  • Shaming you with put-downs and criticism
  • Calling you names, insulting you, or continually criticizing you
  • Telling you that you can’t ever do anything right
  • Refusing to trust you and acting jealous or possessive
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions or any decisions at all
  • Showing jealousy of your friends or time you’ve spent away
  • Preventing or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Controlling where you go and who you see and talk to
  • Monitoring where you go, who you call, and who you spend time with
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Demanding to know where you are every minute
  • Punishing you by withholding affection
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent
  • Threatening to hurt you, the children, your family, or your pets
  • Threatening to kill you or commit suicide
  • Humiliating you in any way
  • Gaslighting (manipulating someone into questioning their own sanity)
  • Accusing you of cheating
  • Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior
  • Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
  • Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc. than you are
  • Attempting to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
  • Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them
  • Blaming you for the abuse, denying the abuse, or acting like the abuse is no big deal
  • Attempting to force you to drop criminal charges

Sexual Abuse

  • Forcing you to dress in a sexual way
  • Insulting you in sexual ways or calling you sexual names
  • Forcing or manipulating you into to having sex or performing sexual acts
  • Forcing you to perform sexual acts that you are not comfortable with
  • Holding you down during sex
  • Demanding sex when you’re sick or tired, or after hurting you
  • Hurting you with weapons or objects during sex
  • Involving other people in sexual activities with you against your will
  • Ignoring your feelings regarding sex
  • Forcing you to watch pornography
  • Purposefully trying to pass on a sexually transmitted disease to you
  • Sexual Coercion:
    • Sexual coercion lies on the ‘continuum’ of sexually aggressive behavior.  It can vary from being egged on and persuaded to being forced to have contact. It can be both verbal and emotional in the form of statements that make you feel pressure, guilt, or shame. You can also be made to feel forced through more subtle actions. For example, an abusive partner:
    • Making you feel like you owe them: ex. Because you’re in a relationship, because you’ve had sex before, or because they spent money on you or bought you a gift
    • Giving you drugs or alcohol to “loosen up” your inhibitions
    • Playing on the fact that you’re in a relationship, saying things such as: “Sex is the way to prove your love for me” or “If I don’t get sex from you, I’ll get it from somewhere else”
    • Reacting negatively with sadness, anger, or resentment if you say no or don’t immediately agree to a sexual behavior or act.
    • Continuing to pressure you after you say no
    • Making you feel threatened or afraid of what might happen if you say no
    • Trying to normalize their sexual expectations: ex. “I need it, I’m a man”
      • Even if your partner isn’t forcing you to do sexual acts against your will, being made to feel obligated is coercion. Dating someone, being in a relationship, or being married never means that you owe your partner intimacy of any kind.

    Financial Abuse

    • Controlling every penny spent in the household
    • Taking your money or forcing you to ask for money
    • Giving an allowance and closely watching how you spend it or demanding receipts for purchases
    • Placing your paycheck in their bank account and denying you access to it
    • Preventing you from viewing or having access to bank accounts
    • Forbidding you to work or limiting the hours that you can work
    • Maxing out credit cards in your name without your permission or not paying the bills on credit cards, which could ruin your credit score
    • Stealing money from you or your family and friends
    • Using funds from children’s savings accounts without your permission
    • Living in your home but refusing to work or contribute to the household
    • Making you give them your tax returns or confiscating joint tax returns
    • Refusing to give you money to pay for necessities/shared expenses like food, clothing, transportation, or medical care and medicine

    If you have experienced or witnessed these behaviors in another relationship, it may be unhealthy or abusive.  Call an advocate today at 1.800.770.1650 or text iowahelp to 20121.  Our services are always free and always confidential.