Domestic violence or abuse, also called intimate partner violence, is not the same as an occasional argument between partners. It is a pattern of abuse used by one person to control another.
Both men and women experience intimate partner violence. It is a common form of violent behavior and is a major problem in the United States. Data from the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey shows that about 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men have experienced unwanted sexual contact, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Additionally, more than 43 million women and 38 million men experienced psychological aggression by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Here are some warning signs that might indicate someone who you care about is in an abusive relationship:
- Their partner puts them down in front of other people.
- They are constantly worried about making their partner angry.
- They make excuses for their partner's behavior.
- Their partner is extremely jealous or possessive.
- They have unexplained marks or injuries.
- They have stopped spending time with friends and family.
- They are depressed, anxious, or you notice changes in their personality.
If you are concerned that someone you care about is in an abusive relationship, you should consult with an expert on the best way to intervene. The National Domestic Violence Hotline recommends the following approach:
- Express your concerns gently and in a non-judgmental way.
- Encourage them to participate in activities outside of the relationship with friends and family.
- Encourage them to talk to people who can provide help and guidance. Provide them the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 800-799-SAFE (7233).
- Remember that you cannot “rescue" them. Continue to be supportive, no matter what they decide to do.
For more information and guidance on helping someone who is experiencing intimate partner violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 800-799-SAFE (7233). You can also contact your Component Employee Assistance Program for guidance and resources.