Domestic violence is sometimes called intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence affects millions of women each year in the U.S. It includes physical, sexual, or emotional abuse, as well as sexual coercion and stalking by a current or former intimate partner. An intimate partner is a person with whom you have or had a close personal or sexual relationship.
Domestic violence often results in physical and emotional injuries. It can also lead to other health problems, reproductive health challenges, mental health conditions such as depression, and suicide. Women affected by intimate partner violence are also more likely to use drugs or alcohol to cope.
Domestic violence can even end in death. Women who live in a home with guns are five times more likely to be killed. More than half of women murdered with guns are killed by intimate partners.
You may be experiencing domestic violence if your partner:
- Threatens to hurt herself or himself because of being upset with you
- Threatens to report you to the authorities for imagined crimes
- Says things like, “If I can’t have you, then no one can”
- Threatens to hurt you, your children, other loved ones, or your pets
- Hurts you physically (e.g., hitting, beating, punching, pushing, kicking), including with a weapon
- Controls what you’re doing
- Checks your phone, email, or social networks without your permission
- Forces you to have sex when you don’t want to
- Controls your birth control or insists that you get pregnant
- Decides what you wear or eat or how you spend money
- Prevents or discourages you from going to work or school or seeing your family or friends
- Humiliates you on purpose in front of others
- Unfairly accuses you of being unfaithful
- Destroys your things
- Blames you for his or her violent outbursts
Your safety is the most important concern. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
If you are not in immediate danger, consider these options:
- Get medical care. If you have been injured or sexually assaulted, go to a local hospital emergency room or urgent care center. You need medical care and may need medicines after being injured or raped.
- Call a helpline for free, anonymous help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TDD). The hotline offers help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in many languages. Hotline staff can give you numbers for other resources, such as local domestic violence shelters. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, there are resources available for you . The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs has a hotline to help LGBTQ victims of violence. Call 212-714-1141 for 24-hour support in English or Spanish.
- Make a safety plan to leave. Domestic violence usually does not get better. Think about a safe place for you to go and other things you will need.
- Save the evidence. Keep evidence of abuse, such as pictures of your injuries or threatening emails or texts, in a safe place the abuser cannot get to.
- Find out where to get help in your community.
- The Northwest Arkansas Women’s Shelter provides free emergency shelter, food, and clothing to victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault.
- Peace at Home Family Shelter provides emergency shelter to women and children in danger.
- Look into a restraining order.
Talk to someone. Reach out to someone you trust. This might be a family member, a friend, a co-worker, or a spiritual leader. Look for ways to get emotional help, like a support group or mental health professional.