What is Abuse?

Abuse is when a person:
  • Commits an act of violence or physical harm, or threatens to do so, against another.
  • Forces another to engage in sex or sexual acts against his/her will. (That is rape!)
  • Intends to frighten or harass another through means such as speech, written letters, or implied threats.
  • Stalks another by repeatedly maintaining visual or physical proximity and/or conveying verbal, written, or implied threats.
  • Restrains or prevents another from seeking help by telephone or any other means.
People in abusive situations often feel trapped, humiliated, and helpless. Some feel bound by love or loyalty. Some feel shame and fear, or that they are protecting their families and others by hiding behind a veil of secrecy. Abuse knows no age, ethnic, racial, or religious barriers. Violence does not go away by itself, and, unless the victim seeks intervention, domestic violence tends to increase in frequency and severity over time.

A victim cannot change an abuser. Domestic violence is a learned behavior. Victims are not at fault for an abuser’s actions. Disagreements and arguments, even heated ones, are part of a normal relationship. Physical, emotional, and other forms of abuse are not!