Not all violence makes the nightly news. In fact, although intimate-partner violence is common enough to be “the single greatest cause of injury to women” according to a report from the Domestic Violence Intervention Program, it often goes unreported and remains under-discussed. But the staggering statistics tell the real story: Every minute, an average of 20 people are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. That means over 10 million people—most of them women—are abused each year.
Individuals of all ages — children, teens, adults, and the elderly — can be victims of domestic violence. This guide aims to raise awareness about domestic violence, help individuals recognize whether they are in an abusive relationship, and provide resources to encourage victims of domestic violence to get help and leave an abusive relationship.
If you suspect you or someone you know may be a victim of domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224.
What You Don’t Know About Domestic Abuse
Various associations, nonprofit organizations, and media outlets offer resources to help victims and raise awareness about how domestic violence ruins lives. We’ve gathered some of them below.
How do I know if it’s domestic violence? Not everyone who has heard the term “domestic violence” fully understands what qualifies as abuse that should be reported. The resources below are meant to help establish a common definition of this type of abuse, and some examples to illustrate the more subtle types of abuse.
Domestic Violence Roundtable - Read about the various types of domestic violence and abuse.
Time — Read about how domestic violence is affecting society, particularly black women.
The Guardian — Read the stories of five women who survived and left an abusive relationship.
Domestic Violence and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Relationships — This resource from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) provides information about domestic violence in LGBT relationships.
Childhelp — Read about the various types of child abuse: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and child neglect.
How pervasive is domestic violence? A crucial next step in stymying this violence is understanding how common it is, and how many people are impacted by it. Recent research has also started to delineate the ways in which domestic violence is a predictor for other types of violence.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence(NCADV) — View state-by-state statistics and find contact information for each state’s coalition against domestic violence.
Domestic Violence Statistics — Read statistics concerning domestic violence in the U.S. and abroad.
American Bar Association — Access statistics on domestic, sexual, and dating violence and stalking.
Domestic Shelters — View infographics that highlight domestic violence and abuse statistics.
CNN — View statistics and information concerning domestic violence in the U.S. and worldwide, including laws to protect victims.
Health.com — Read statistics about domestic violence and abusive relationships.
Where is help available? If you know someone who needs to get out of an abusive situation, consult the resources below.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline — Speak with an advocate in English or Spanish via phone or online chat.
WEAVE — This California nonprofit corporation strives to help bring an end to sexual assault, domestic violence, and sex trafficking by building a community for survivors and offering support. Support line: 916-920-2952.
Project PAVE — This organization, founded in 1986, aims to empower youths to end the cycle of relationship violence. Project PAVE offers therapy, family support services, youth leadership programs, and violence prevention education.
Loveisrespect — A project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, Loveisrespect provides resources to empower youths to prevent and end dating abuse.
How to Spot the Subtle (and Obvious) Signs of Domestic Abuse
If you suspect a friend or family member is in an abusive relationship, learn how to recognize the warning signs and provide unconditional support. If you think you might be in an abusive relationship, take advantage of online resources and support from various nonprofit and government organizations.
Educate yourself about the warning signs to look for in friends and family members who you suspect may be in an abusive relationship:
- Help a Friend or Family Member — Consult this resource from the National Domestic Violence Hotline to help you recognize the signs of abuse in a friend or family member and to understand how to offer support.
- Domestic Abuse Intervention Services — Access tools to help victims of domestic violence and read how to help a loved one.
- Family Tree — Learn about domestic violence, the different types of abuse, the reasons why the victim doesn’t leave the relationship, and signs that an individual will be abusive.
- 20 Telling Signs Someone Is in an Abusive Relationship — This article can help you recognize if a friend, family member, or acquaintance is in an abusive relationship.
- Seven Ways to Support a Friend or Family Member Experiencing Domestic Violence — This article describes the warning signs of an abusive relationship and provides ways you can remain supportive.
Are you in an abusive relationship? It can be difficult to recognize the telltale signs of an abusive relationship when you’re in it. Often, we hesitate to identify a loved one as an abuser – even when it’s clearly the case. Consulting a qualified professional or online resource can help separate fact from emotion and provide actionable steps for moving forward.
HelpGuide.org — Learn about the warning signs of abuse and where to turn for help.
Kintera — Examine your relationship and recognize if it is abusive by asking yourself several questions. Learn how to help a friend who is being abused.
How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship — This guide, from Helpguide.org, provides advice on leaving an abusive relationship.
21 Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship — Learn what psychological abuse can look like from an article by Psych Central.
Joyful Heart Foundation — Learn how to recognize the signs that your partner is being abusive and distinguish between the different types of abuse.
The 6 Different Types of Domestic Abuse
Many people mistakenly assume the term “domestic violence” refers only to physical abuse, but other forms of abuse — emotional, sexual, spiritual, financial, and technological — can be just as damaging to an individual’s well-being.
- What Is Physical Abuse? — Read about who suffers from physical abuse, the cycle, and examples of physical abuse.
- One Love Foundation — An organization dedicated to ending relationship abuse provides this article that describes what an emotionally abusive relationship can look like.
- 11 Subtle Signs You Might Be in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship — Read about the subtlety of emotional abuse in a romantic relationship.
- National Association for Christian Recovery - Read about how individuals can be spiritually abused.
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline — This article describes the signs of spiritual abuse and provides advice on how to create a safety plan.
- Therapy and Spiritual Abuse — This article, published by Psychology Today, discusses how spiritual abuse has been historically treated by therapists and how counselors are changing their methods.
- Financial Abuse: How to Identify It and What You Can Do to Help — This Forbes article discusses the signs of a financially abusive relationship, provides examples of how this type of relationship starts, and offers advice on how women can leave a financially abusive relationship.
- 16 Signs of Financial Abuse — Learn about how a financially abusive individual takes control of a partner or significant other.
- Office on Women's Health — Access information about signs of financial abuse, steps to protect yourself from financial abuse, and how to financially recover.
- Assessing for Technology Abuse and Privacy Concerns — Learn how technology is used to abuse individuals.
- Technology-Facilitated Abuse: The New Breed of Domestic Violence — Learn which types of devices and platforms individuals are using to abuse others.
- The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness — The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness lists the ways in which an abuser can use technology to abuse or harass a partner.
Learn More: Additional Resources & Support
Access location-specific resources and support, and learn about the legal rights available to immigrant victims of domestic violence in the United States.
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence — Find links for victims and survivors of domestic violence.
A Handbook for Survivors of Domestic Abuse — Consult this resource to understand domestic violence, explore options for individuals in abusive relationships, and see services available in Nebraska.
Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence — Read about teen dating violence and abuse.
Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt — The American Psychological Association (APA) has created this guidebook specifically for teens in violent and abusive relationships.
American Psychological Association — Read facts and access resources about intimate partner violence.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services — Learn about the legal rights available to immigrant victims of domestic violence in the United States.