Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

Washington State laws include “family or household members” into that definition.

How do you know if you are in an abusive relationship?

Does your partner ...

  • Embarrass or make fun of you in front of friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance? 
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly -- grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets? 
  • Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be? 
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren't ready for?
  • Make you feel like there "is no way out" of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family?
  • Try to keep you from leaving after a fight, or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson?"

Do you ...

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Without help, the abuse will continue.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.