If you know someone who needs help, please urge them to call our 24-hour hotline at
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that takes place between family members or intimate partners.
Domestic violence can occur between spouses, partners, adults and their dependent children, same-sex couples, and the elderly and their family caregivers.
Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.
Domestic violence affects adults and children regardless of race, religion, socioeconomic status or educational background, and can lead to serious injury or death.
Alcohol and drug abuse, mental illness or previous experience does not cause domestic violence, though these issues generally do have an impact on relationships.
Other terms used to talk about domestic violence include:
These terms do not necessarily mean the same thing, however, each term can shed light on a different aspect of domestic violence.
Sexual Abuse is an umbrella term that includes, but is not limited to:
Sexual abuse involves any unwanted sexual contact where the victim has been forced, coerced or tricked into participation against their will. This can include the use of force, emotional bargaining, blackmail or mind games to force sexual contact. Anyone may be a victim, male or female, young or old, rich or poor, and all educational levels.
Sexual violence is a crime of power and control; it is NOT about sex.
Over 80% of sexual assaults are committed by someone the victim knows – a relative, friend, or date. The percentage is much higher for child victims, at 93%.
Symptoms of sexual abuse in children may include nightmares, depression, age inappropriate interest in sexual matters, fear of a particular person, genital infections, sexually transmitted infections, age-inappropriate bed-wetting, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Gather information, attend trainings and contact the Victims’ Resource Center for educational materials.
Let your friend or loved one know that you care and are willing to listen without judgment or blame. Don’t force the issue. Believe them.
Support the victim’s decisions. Focus on supporting your friend or loved one’s ability to make decisions that are best for them under the circumstances. Do not offer advice. Support whatever decision is made, even if you do not agree with it.
Helping to protect your friend or loved one includes treating the information shared with you as confidential.
If your friend or loved one is asking for advice, let her/him know about the YWCA Victims’ Resource Center. Give her/him our hotline number. Offer to be with her/him when they call or to accompany them to an appointment with one of our advocates who will explain their rights and options. An advocate will also help develop a safety plan.
No one deserves to be abused.
Abuse is never the victim’s fault.