Definition and signs of Domestic Violence

It’s not always easy to tell whether a relationship will turn abusive. Some behaviors appear over time and can take many different forms.

Arming yourself with information can give you the tools to protect yourself, your family, and loved ones who may be experiencing domestic violence.

Domestic Violence, Defined

According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors used to maintain power and control over another person in a relationship. It’s also known as intimate partner violence (IPV).

Domestic violence does not discriminate.  It can happen to men and women of any:

  • Race
  • Age
  • Sexual orientation
  • Religion
  • Social status
  • Relationship status

Domestic violence presents itself in many forms.  It can be:

  • Physical
  • Verbal
  • Emotional
  • Sexual
  • Financial
  • Digital
  • Reproductive


Signs of Domestic Violence

While every relationship is different, there are many signs of domestic violence to watch out for.  An abuser may:

  • Be jealous of your friends and family
  • Isolate you from others
  • Control your access to money
  • Criticize and put you down
  • Threaten to take away or harm your children
  • Intimidate you with verbal threats or weapons
  • Pressure you to have sex, or use drugs or alcohol

These are just some of the warning signs.  Possessive and controlling behaviors often intensify as your relationship grows.


Get Help

Don’t wait until an emergency to ask for help.  If you are concerned you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence, there are lots of resources to get help.

CAUTION:  Domestic violence situations can become increasingly volatile at the point where the victim attempts to leave.  Domestic violence is about power and control and if you are in a dangerous situation, it is important to be aware that your computer, email, and cell phone may be monitored by your abuser.  Talk to you doctor privately or utilize a phone or computer at the public library to ensure your privacy.  Never hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger.

Valleywise Health works in partnership with Mariposa Wings to Safety, the only hospital-based family violence advocacy center in the region.  Mariposa Wings to Safety has helped over 36,000 people since 2005. They offer after-hours:

  • Safety planning
  • Crisis Intervention and counseling
  • Information and referral services
  • Assistance with orders of protection
  • Shelter and emergency housing access
  • And much more

Mariposa: Wings to Safety 602-344-5976 or 602-344-1545

If you are in danger and need assistance now, these national hotlines and websites can also be a resource:

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799- SAFE (7233) /
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673) /


You are not alone.  Count on Valleywise Health to help you lead a safe, happy and healthy life.

About the Author

Kathy Dutridge, MA, LPC, CRC - Behavioral Health

Kathy Dutridge is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Behavioral Health Clinician at Valleywise Health. Kathy is a former Maricopa County Crisis Line supervisor who assisted families in domestic violence situations in getting to safety. Currently, Kathy is passionate about providing professional counseling services at Valleywise Health.

Read more posts by Kathy Dutridge, MA, LPC, CRC  Browse all topics

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