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Domestic abuse is abusive behavior by one or both partners in a relationship, such as marriage, cohabitation or dating. Domestic abuse, also known as domestic violence, not only affects the partners in a partnership, but children within the family, as well. The abuse may include physical; hitting, kicking, shoving, slapping, throwing of objects, sexual abuse, controlling, and/or emotional abuse. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “domestic violence is a serious, preventable public health problem affecting more than 25 million American women.” It should be noted that domestic violence can also include abuse against men, although not typical, it does sometimes occur. It is much more common in women, however. From the Office on Violence Against Women, the definition of domestic abuse is a "pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” Physical abuse is most often thought of when discussing domestic abuse, but emotional, verbal and sexual abuse are just as bad.

Emotional abuse is also sometimes called psychological abuse. It most often includes controlling behavior and humiliating the victim privately and publicly. People who are emotionally abused often feel they do not “own” themselves or their lives. Their significant other literally controls everything, where they go, who they see, some may choose the clothes they wear and what they eat. Emotional abuse includes behavior that threatens and intimidates and chips away at the victim’s self-worth and self-esteem. The victim feels they have no freedom. Sometimes perpetrators use children to engage in emotional abuse as well. Emotional and mental abuse is meant to confuse the victim and make them feel insecure. In many ways, this type of abuse is even more complicated than physical abuse because there are no physical scars. It causes the victim to doubt themselves and leaves them feeling helpless. Women suffering from emotional abuse often also have depression, eating disorders, abuse of alcohol or drugs and have an increased risk for suicide.


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