What is Domestic Violence?

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence defines domestic violence as "the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically.

Sexual abuse:
can involve rape or other forced sexual acts, or withholding or using sex as a weapon

Mental Abuse:
when one partner, through a series of actions or words, wears away at the other’s sense of mental well-being and health

Physical abuse:
can include punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, or physically restraining a partner against their willing

Emotional Abuse:
can include non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in”, excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation, or stalking

Financial Abuse:
can range from controlling all of the budgeting in the household and not letting the survivor have access to their own bank accounts or spending money; to opening credit cards and running up debts in the survivor’s name; or simply not letting the survivor have a job to earn their own money

Verbal abuse:
can range from words or behaviors to intimidate, manipulate or maintain power and control over someone. These include insults, humiliation and ridicule, silent treatment, attempts to scare, isolate and control

Early Signs of a Domestic Violence Abuser

Historical signs

Some signs might be historical, such as early childhood abuse or neglect, family condoning use of violence, lacking empathy for others, or history of vandalism or property damage.

New / Active signs

Other signs might be present over time or escalate, such as serious drug or alcohol abuse, trouble controlling anger, withdrawal from friends and usual activities, declining school performance, feeling constantly rejected or disrespected, announcing threats or plans to hurt others and access to or fascination with weapons.

Recognizing potential signs for violence can help you get out of the situation early. There is research that indicates that new or active signs are more predictive of short-term risk of violence than historical factors, which may be more predictive of longer term risk.

What to do if you recognize violence warning signs in someone?


Be Safe - do not spend time alone with anyone showing violence warning signs


Tell someone you trust and respect about your concerns, and ask for help


Remove person from violence trigger - if it is possible without putting yourself in danger, try to remove the person from the situation setting them off


Do not resort to violence nor try to use a weapon to protect yourself

If you recognize any of these signs, please give us a call 708-580-6005

1 in 3

women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.


calls received by domestic violence hotlines; an average of close to 15 calls every minute.


of Illinois women and 25.7% of Illinois men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.


intimate violence incidents were reported to Illinois law enforcement in 2014. Many others went unreported.

three multiracial women hugging and smiling

Who are the victims of domestic violence?

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There is NO "typical victim." Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, varying age groups, all backgrounds, all communities, all education levels, all economic levels, all cultures, all ethnicities, all religions, all abilities, and all lifestyles.

Victims of domestic violence do not bring violence upon themselves, they do not always lack self-confidence, nor are they just as abusive as the abuser. Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain that control. In relationships where domestic violence exists, violence is not equal. Even if the victim fights back or instigates violence in an effort to diffuse a situation. There is always one person who is the primary, constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship.

Who are the abusers?

Anyone can be an abuser. They come from all groups, all cultures, all religions, all economic levels, and all backgrounds. They can be your neighbor, your pastor, your friend, your child's teacher, a relative, a coworker — anyone. It is important to note that the majority of abusers are only violent with their current or past intimate partners. One study found 90% of abusers do not have criminal records and abusers are generally law-abiding outside the home.

woman fearfully looking out of the window
three multiracial children sitting outside on a trampoline

Why do victims stay?

When it is a viable option, it is best for victims to do what they can to escape their abusers. However, this is not the case in all situations. Abusers repeatedly go to extremes to prevent the victim from leaving. In fact, leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence.

A victim's reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped: the abuser will hurt or kill them, they will hurt or kill the kids, they will win custody of the children, they will harm or kill pets or others, they will ruin their victim financially — the list goes on. The victim in violent relationships knows their abuser best and fully knows the extent to which they will go to make sure they have and can maintain control over the victim. The victim literally may not be able to safely escape or protect those they love.