Recognizing Less Easily Identified Forms of Domestic Violence


Domestic Violence is commonly recognized as physical or sexual violence perpetrated against a spouse, or other personal relationship defined by Family Code Section § 6211. However, domestic violence can take many forms, some of which are difficult to identify. When looking for signs of abuse, the Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence advises watching for patterns of power and control as well as signs of physical and/or sexual abuse. Below are common signs:

Coercion Threats: Making and/or carrying out threats of harm; threatening to leave the other person or commit suicide; making the person drop criminal charges or forcing them to do something illegal.

Intimidation: Smashing things, destroying property, abusing pets, displaying weapons or making the other person afraid by using looks, actions or gestures.

Emotional Abuse: Putting the person down; making them feel bad about themselves or think they are crazy; calling the person names; playing mind games; humiliating the other person or making them feel guilty.

Isolation: Controlling what the other person does (who they see or talk to) or where they go; limiting their involvement with family or friends and using jealousy to justify their actions.

Minimizing, Denying and Blaming: Making light of abuse and not taking concerns about their behavior seriously; saying the abuse didn’t happen; shifting responsibility for abusive behavior or saying the abused person caused it.

Using Children: Making the person feel guilty about the children; using the children to relay messages or threatening to take the children away.

Economic Abuse: Preventing the person from getting or keeping a job; making the other person ask for money or giving them an allowance; taking money away from them or not letting them know about or have access to family income.

Privilege: Treating the other person like a “servant”; making all of the “big decisions” and being the one to define the family roles.

If this applies to you or someone you care about, you should speak to an experienced attorney to understand your options.

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