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Understanding Domestic Abuse is the First Step Toward a Better Life. In Fact, it Could Save Your Life.

  • Are you feeling threatened by your partner?
  • Does your partner call you names, swear at you, put you down or control your activities?
  • Has your partner hit, slapped, kicked, punched or pushed you?
  • Do you feel that you deserve more respect than you are getting?

You are not alone.  Please, call 911 if you are afraid for your immediate safety. Or for help dealing with an abusive relationship, please call our 24-hour hotline at 216-391-HELP.

The Domestic Violence & Child Advocacy Center is here to provide information and support as you explore your options. There is no single choice or decision that is right for everyone, only you can decide what is best. Whatever your decision, there are steps we can help you take to increase your safety and there are community resources available to assist you.

What Constitutes Abuse?

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. It occurs in the form of actions or threats meant to control another person - and it includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.  Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. And it can happen to those who are married, living together or simply dating.

Types of Abuse:

Following are some of the most common forms of domestic violence. Are these things happening in your relationship?

Verbal Abuse

  • yelling
  • name calling
  • threatening to hurt or kill
  • degrading comments about women or men in general
  • criticizing appearance
  • belittling accomplishments
  • constant blaming

Emotional Abuse

  • apologizing and making false promises to end the abuse; offering false hope
  • isolating from others
  • ridiculing, criticizing, blaming
  • neglecting physical or emotional needs
  • ignoring or withholding affection
  • abusing pets
  • accusing of affairs
  • monitoring conversations
  • making account for time
  • criticizing friends, family
  • embarrassing in front of others
  • undermining authority with children
  • constant phone calls

Financial/Resource Abuse

  • taking or breaking phone
  • controlling money/bank accounts
  • withholding financial information
  • making a partner account for all expenditures
  • withholding child support
  • destroying property
  • taking or disabling car
  • taking keys/purse
  • quitting or losing jobs
  • sabotaging work or school

Sexual Abuse

  • constant sexual demands
  • forcing unwanted sexual acts
  • insisting on unwanted and uncomfortable touching
  • committing rape or incest
  • forcing sadistic sexual acts
  • treating others as sex objects
  • making demeaning sexual remarks
  • forcing family members to see pornographic materials
  • using denigrating language such as: fat, ugly, no good
  • wanting sex after abuse
  • forcing to have sex with others
  • forcing pregnancy or abortion

Physical Abuse

  • holding down
  • hair pulling
  • poking, grabbing
  • pushing, shoving
  • locking in or out of house
  • subjecting to reckless driving
  • refusing to help when sick or injured
  • kicking, biting
  • hitting, slapping
  • choking, strangling
  • burning
  • throwing or hitting with objects
  • using a knife or gun

Are You in an Abusive and Potentially Violent Relationship?

Answering the following questions will help you determine whether your relationship is abusive or becoming abusive.

Does Your Partner:

  • embarrass you in front of others?
  • belittle your accomplishments?
  • make you feel unworthy?
  • constantly contradict him/herself to confuse you?
  • do things for which you are constantly making excuses to others, or yourself?
  • isolate you from many of the people you care most about?
  • make you feel ashamed most of the time?
  • make you believe he/she is smarter than you and therefore, more able to make decisions?
  • make you perform acts that are demeaning to you?
  • use intimidation to make you do what he/she wants?
  • prevent you from going or doing common activities such as shopping, visiting friends and family, and talking to the opposite sex?
  • control the financial aspects of your life?
  • use money as a way of controlling you?
  • make you believe that you cannot exist without him/her?
  • make you feel there is no way out?
  • make you find ways of compromising your feelings for the sake of peace?
  • treat you roughly, grab, pinch, push or shove you?
  • threaten you verbally, or with a weapon?
  • hold you to keep you from leaving during or after an argument?
  • lose control when he/she is using alcohol or other substances?
  • get angry frequently without an apparent cause?
  • allow anger to escalate into violence?
  • not believe that he/she hurt you or not feel sorry for what has happened?
  • physically force you to do things you don't want to?

Do You:

  • believe you can help your partner to change the abusive behavior if you were only to change yourself?
  • find that not making him/her angry has become a major part of your life?
  • do what he/she wants you to do out of fear rather than what you want to do?
  • stay with him/her only because you fear he/she will hurt you if you leave or tell someone?

If you answered "yes" to any of the above questions, you may be in abusive relationship. Help, support and information are available to you through the DVCAC. Please, call our confidential 24-hour HelpLine at 216-391-HELP.


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.