What is Domestic Violence?

Abuse can happen to anyone

Domestic violence is a term re-purposed in the 1970s from meaning civil disorder to mean bad things that happen “behind closed doors.” A name for something that never had a name.

Whatever the name or lack of one, there have always been unsafe, dysfunctional households.  Some are rural, some urban, some poor, others with plenty of resources.  They occur in every country, in every corner of the world, with an estimated world-wide frequency of 30%, that is, one in three homes or domestic setups is not a safe, nurturing place for some of the people who live there.

Defining domestic violence legally is a moving target, with great variation in how people are allowed treat each other within families depending on culture, religion, and civil laws.

At this website, we define domestic violence as a continuing environment in the home where one person or a few people have the power and inclination to abuse, control, isolate, subordinate, or exploit others in the family group.

It is a situation that flips the concept of head of the house who protects and nurtures those in his care to its opposite – a home where no one except the controlling figure(s) can think, act, or feel without considering the consequences, and there is the constant threat of either being banished or prevented from leaving the group.  It is a situation where it’s not safe to stay, and there are serious consequences for trying to leave, up to and including death.

Isn’t “getting out” enough?

Say you grew up in an angry home, or one with lots of discipline, religion, rules and threats.  Or your parent was depressed, or an addict, or died.  Or you had material things but no love from self-involved, distant parents.  You adapt, you work hard, you get an education, you “get out”.

Say you married an alcoholic who became increasingly mean and abusive through the years.  Or your perfect guy morphs into a jealous, control-freak who hates your friends and family.  Or your domestic partner is seducing your young daughter from a previous relationship.  Or he’s a successful, well-liked policeman or clergyman with a dark side, and you are the one living in it.  The solution is simple:  Get a divorce.

If some variation of these situations sound like you, you already know there is nothing simple about either the adult or the child version of domestic violence.  You carry the painful experiences of your childhood into adult life with you.  If you are able to get away from an abusive partner, the costs, financially, emotionally, and socially are very high, and you are likely to be re-abused by courts, lawyers, child protective agencies, mental health services, and even domestic violence agencies before, during, and after “getting out”.

Not having a safe place to call home is to lack the foundation on which to build anything else – a childhood, teenage transition to independence, education, career,  building your own family with the confidence they have a safe home.  Whenever and for however long the situation lasts, there are consequences.  Like a snowball rolling down a mountainside, these consequences can accumulate so fast and become so big, you can be squashed.

The information and resources you will find here are designed to help you step out of the path of that snowball, get yourself to safety, and plan your new life – the one you’ve survived in order to live.

Is now the right time?

Once you have some space, however small, in which to live a relatively safe day-to-day life, the task becomes how rebuild and recover, or, if you grew up with some combination of control, abuse, and neglect, how to pick up where your normal development as a child got side-tracked by the need to survive left off.  The purpose of this website is to provide information, direction, and support you can use all the way through this process.

How do you know if you are ready?  If you have a safe place to view and read, where no one can track your progress or peek at your notes, you are ready to dip into it, in your own way and in your own time. You don’t have to be out or “over it”.  Just take it a page at a time and stop when you’ve “had enough”.

MORE:  What Does Abuse Look Like?             Who is an Abuser?