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Learning is the Key to a Life Free of Violence.

Domestic violence is a crime punishable by law. Often referred to as battering, relationship abuse, or intimate partner violence; it is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over someone through fear and intimidation. It often includes the threat or use of violence, and can include physical, emotional, verbal, financial/resource, and sexual abuse.

Types of abuse

  • Verbal
    Name-calling, yelling, belittling, using put downs, constant blaming and criticizing, threatening to kill you, a friend, family member, or pet.
  • Emotional
    Giving you the "silent treatment," accusing you of having affairs, not permitting you to use the phone, embarrassing you in front of others, bragging about infidelity, forcing you to stay in the house or locking you out of the house, harming pets, threatening or attempting suicide, monitoring your behavior.
  • Financial/Resource
    Taking your money, putting all bills in your name, selling or destroying your possessions or property, making you account for every dime you spend, quitting or losing jobs, forcing you to write bad checks or commit crimes, not allowing you to work, taking or disabling your car.
  • Sexual
    Rape, forcing sex with partner's friends, forbidding birth control, forcing distasteful sex acts on you, beating if sex is refused.
  • Physical
    Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, threatening with weapon, banging head into wall, dragging through the house, burning with cigarettes, throwing down stairs, pushing out of a car, blocking your entrance or exit, pushing, tripping, restraining.

The Power & Control Wheel

This is a particularly helpful tool in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violent behaviors, which are used by a batterer to establish and maintain control over their partner. Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship. View the Power & Control Wheel here.

The Cycle of Violence

Abuse in an intimate relationship most often occurs in relatively predictable patterns. Victims become aware of the warning signs and find themselves "walking on eggshells" at those times.

Here are three typical phases victims experience in the cycle of violence*:

  • Phase 1: Tension- Building Tension begins to rise, the abuser becomes edgy and more prone to react negatively to frustrations and builds to the point of violence or some other incident.
  • Phase 2: Battering/ Explosion- The actual act of violence or emotional outbreak's in which the abuser gains control only after they have taught the victim "a lesson." The victim responds to the pain by becoming emotionally detached. Fighting back usually increases the violence.
  • Phase 3: Quiet/Loving Phase- Tension is decreased and the abuser behaves in a contrite, loving manner while denying the extent of pain and fear the victim is experiencing. The abuser makes promises not to be violent again and asks for forgiveness. Then, there is a quiet time before Phase 1 begins again.

*Adapted from The Battered Woman by Lenore Walker

It's important to understand that only you can gauge or predict when violence may occur and how severe it will be. Listen to your instincts.

Domestic Violence Effects on Children

Children are often the invisible victims of domestic violence. Living in a home with domestic violence is often very traumatic for children and can lead to a range of serious long term consequences. Children confronted with violence at home suffer physically, emotionally and academically. Without support and intervention children are more likely to fall into a cycle of abuse later in life.

The following behaviors can often be seen in children who have witnessed or experienced domestic violence:

  • Infants — Age 3
    Physical problems (frequent colds, diarrhea), excessive screaming and irritability, problems falling asleep, developmental delays (not gaining weight, not eating), anxiety, sadness, crying, emotional withdrawal.
  • Ages 3 — 7 
    Delayed language development, regression to infant-like behavior such as thumb sucking, difficulty getting along with others, hostility and aggression, defiant and destructive behavior, clinging behavior, fear, self-blaming and feelings of guilt.
  • Ages 7 — 13 
    Low self-esteem, conflicted feelings about the abuser, increased aggression toward peers, siblings, and parents, shame (denying the violence at home), delinquent behavior (stealing, fighting, using drugs).
  • Ages 13 — 18 
    Patterns of blaming others for their behavior, especially parents, high levels of anger and anxiety, inappropriate belief that violence can be a response to conflict, protective behavior toward the victim, violence against the victim, sense of responsibility for the care of younger siblings, running away, patterns of truancy ,substance abuse problems, promiscuous behavior.
  • Additional Effects — All Age Groups
    Increased emotional needs, difficulty adjusting to school phobias (might fear leaving the victim alone), somatic problems (asthma, peptic ulcers, chronic headaches, abdominal cramps), eating disorders, patterns of increased deceptiveness (excessive lying, stealing, cheating), inclination to mutilate or kill animals, inability to trust and develop relationships, low tolerance for frustration, self-destructive behavior, self-mutilation, memory of every detail of abuse, blames the victim for the abuse/ pressures them to make things better, poor sexual image, low self-esteem, bed wetting

* Center Against Domestic Violence

The Crime of Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence is a crime. In the state of Ohio, Ohio Revised Code 2919.25 states that:

(A) No person shall knowingly cause or attempt to cause physical harm to a    family or household member.
(B) No person shall recklessly cause serious physical harm to a family or household member.
(C) No person, by threat of force, shall knowingly cause a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm to the family or household member.
(D) Whoever violates this section is guilty of domestic violence.

Upon filing criminal domestic violence charges, the victim or arresting officer may file a motion requesting the court to issue a temporary protection order, designed to ensure the safety and protection of the victim and their children. It will order the abuser to stay away, prohibiting their presence at the victim's residence, school, business, or place of employment, or those of their children.

For further information regarding Ohio's Domestic Violence Law and protection orders, click here.


Following are some key statistics on domestic violence. However, keep in mind that because many victims may choose not to disclose their abuse due to feelings of shame or fear of stigma, domestic violence is extremely difficult to measure with absolute precision.

  • 1 in every 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime (Tjaden & Toennes, 2000).
  • An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year (Centers for Disease Control, 2003).
  • Nearly one-third of American women (31%) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives (Commonwealth Fund 1998 Survey of Women's Health, 1999).
  • 50% of men who frequently assault their wives frequently assault their children (Straus, Gelles & Smith, 1990).
  • More than one-third of women treated for violent injuries in emergency rooms were hurt by intimate partners (Rand, 1997).
  • In the U.S., intimate partner violence affects more than 12 million people each year (CDC, NISVS 2010)

Community Impact

Domestic violence impacts every community in the world. Here in the U.S., thirty percent of people say they know a woman who has been physically abused by their spouse or partner in the past year. Domestic violence not only affects women, but men, and same-sex relationship partners as well.

The entire community pays a cost for domestic violence and the resources needed to address it. Each year, the tally for the resources needed to address domestic violence exceeds $5.8 billion (CDC, 2003).

"Domestic Violence is an Inner City Crime" Myth

DVCAC has released maps that display the reach of domestic violence throughout Cuyahoga County. The maps were created in partnership with Megan R. Holmes, Ph.D. of the Mandel School of Applied Sciences at Case Western Reserve University to debunk the myth that domestic violence only happens in inner city neighborhoods.

Although research shows that 1 in 4 women will experience physical abuse by an intimate partner in her lifetime, the fear and shame associated with domestic violence keep many from reporting it- and the community from making it a priority. Although factors such as poverty may increase the risk factor, suburban women can, and do, suffer the same trauma and harm as women in inner city neighborhoods.

The Prevalence Map displays the number of domestic violence incidents reported per household for each city in 2011. While the City of Cleveland expectantly has one of the highest rates, suburbs like Valley View, North Royalton and Olmstead Falls may be surprised by the map.  As an example, a 3% household incident rate means in a neighborhood of 100 houses, 3 would have had a domestic violence incident reported to the police last year. Only a few cities, Bentleyville, Brooklyn Heights, Cuyahoga Heights and Newburgh Heights reported no domestic violence incidents in 2011.

The Silent Survivors Map estimates the number of female victims who suffer in silence based on The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010 Summary Report. This view may validate the theory that the shame and stereotypes associated with domestic violence can act as a barrier to reporting. Based on research, women in Westlake, North Olmsted, Strongsville and Cleveland Heights should have a much higher rate of domestic violence than is being reported.

Domestic violence is a public health, human rights, economic, and generational issue. By lifting the veil of secrecy, DVCAC hopes to engage corporate and civic leaders, law enforcement, concerned citizens and the judicial system in finding innovative ways to support victims and raise societal expectations that domestic violence is not acceptable.

DVCAC provides emergency intervention as well as long term support for victims. Victims needing emergency assistance can call the 24-hour HelpLine: 216-391-HELP (4357).


You can help stop domestic violence and child abuse.

DVCAC reaches over 37,000 men, women and children each year in the Cleveland area

We could not do it without support from the community. Help us help others.