Violence in the home or by family members is called domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) defines it this way:

  • Actual or threatened physical harm
  • Sexual assault
  • Name-calling or put downs
  • Keeping a partner from calling their family or friends
  • Stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
  • Withholding money
  • Stalking
  • Intimidation
  • Chronic situations in which one person controls or intends to control another person’s behavior
  • Misuse of power that may result in injury or harm to the psychological, social, economic, sexual, or physical well-being of family members

Some violence between couples is one-sided. One person hits, the other person is hurt. The hitter is usually the man, almost 90 percent of the time, but can be the woman. A person who is violent to someone in a family relationship is called a “batterer.” The person who is injured is “battered.” These terms paint a picture of what is happening. This kind of violence is raw and angry. The batterer is often looking for control over the other person. Violence and intimidation are the ways he will try to gain that control.

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Batterers tend to be very jealous and possessive. The other person is “mine.” Batterers will do things like sell one car so that it’s hard for their partner to get around, even to work. They will dole out small amounts of money so the other person can’t buy a bus ticket out of town. Batterers will limit contact with family and friends, “I don’t want you seeing that friend Rachel anymore. Don’t answer the phone when she calls.”

Some people grew up surrounded by violence. They may not be aware of what society regards as normal, expected behavior and what is out of bounds. Here are some specific actions that are considered domestic violence:

Psychological Abuse

  • Cursing, demeaning, yelling, taunting
  • Isolating, coercing, threatening harm
  • Stalking, harassing, making a person afraid

Physical Abuse

  • Slapping, grabbing, shoving, twisting arm, pulling hair
  • Kicking, punching, biting, throwing things
  • Choking, using guns and knives, mutilating, burning

Sexual Abuse

  • Raping, forcing unwanted sexual behaviors, coercing, harassing

Financial Abuse

  • Controlling purchases, holding back money and information

Notice all the different ways domestic violence happens. It is not just physical violence. Emotional violence can be just as violent, and just as damaging. Also, physical violence does not have to happen over and over again. A one-time event can give the batterer the control he wants. Statistics show that most victims of domestic violence try to leave the batterer six times before they are actually able to get away (Fleming, et al, 2012). The emotional abuse from the batterer has left the victim feeling unworthy and unable to plan.


If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, reach out for help now. If you are working with a Parenting Coordinator, ask for help. Also, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799- SAFE (7233) or the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Remember, computer use can be tracked. A batterer can check the history of websites visited—and most likely will check. If you are afraid your Internet and/or computer usage might be monitored, please use a safer computer (at a location the batterer cannot access), or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline.





About Debra Carter

Dr. Carter is a Clinical and Forensic Psychologist, Florida Supreme Court Certified Family Law Mediator, and a Parent Coordinator.

She is Co-Founder and Chief Clinical Director of the National Cooperative Parenting Center (NCPC) offering a wide spectrum of services to the Mental Health and Legal Communities as well as to families and children who are struggling with divorce-related issues. She is a frequent expert to the court, and an international speaker, lecturer, and trainer on parenting in divorce. She is a consultant to the US Department of State in matters of international child custody.

Dr. Carter is the leader in the development of standardized Parental Responsibility Guidelines emphasizing the needs of children in divorce, which have been adopted and endorsed by the court. She has received numerous awards including the prestigious “John E. Van Duzer Distinguished Service Award” from the International Chapter of the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts.

Her work can be found through Unhooked Books: