Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence

About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is not physical violence alone. Domestic violence is any behavior the purpose of which is to gain power and control over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or intimate family member. Abuse is a learned behavior; it is not caused by anger, mental problems, drugs or alcohol, or other common excuses.

A few of the most common ways abusers control victims

  • Isolation
  • Emotional abuse
  • Using children
  • Dominating finances and family resources
  • Physical and sexual assault

Who are victims?

Anybody can be a victim — rich or poor, any race, age, or religion. High school drop-out or Ph.D.  Studies have shown no characteristic link between personality type and being a victim.  If you are worried about yourself or a loved one, help is available.

To help a friend

  • Listen to their story and believe them.
  • Hold what you are told in confidence.
  • Encourage your friend to think about safety. Help your friend make concrete plans that deal with the most likely "what ifs."
  • Reach out to a domestic violence program.

Who are abusers?

Like victims, domestic violence abusers come from all backgrounds. However, abusers do share some characteristics in that they tend to justify their abusive behaviors, fail to take responsibility for the abuse and use similar tactics to gain and maintain power and control over their partners.

Abusers typically present a different personality outside of their relationship than they do to their intimate partner, which complicates victims' ability to describe their experience and seek assistance.

Learn more 

There is so much to learn about domestic violence. Search our publications for topics that concern you. Or check our projects for specialized information.