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Public Safety | Relationship Violence

Relationship Violence

What is Relationship Violence?

Relationship violence is also called Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence. These terms refer to a pattern of abusive behaviors committed by one partner against another in a relationship. Partners may be married, living together, separated, or dating. They may be heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered.

Relationship Violence can happen to people of every income level, education, race, religion, or profession. Several forms of relationship violence exist.

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Types of Relationship Violence

Physical Violence
When a person uses physical force or intimidation to hurt his or her partner. Examples include hitting, punching, pinching, strangling or choking, leaving bruises, kicking, pulling hair, biting, and scratching.

Emotional/Psychological Violence
When a person uses words, threats, or coercion, either implied or directly, to harm his or her partner’s sense of self-worth. Examples include: constant humiliation or criticism; threats; isolation from friends and family; destruction of property; causing fear through words, looks, or actions; denial that abuse is happening.

Economic Coercion
When a person uses financial resources to control his or her partner. Examples include: preventing one’s partner from getting a job, controlling access to his or her money and accounts, or making one’s partner ask or beg for money.

Sexual Violence
When a person makes forced or unwanted sexual contact without his or her partner’s consent. Examples include: forcing one’s partner to have sex, engaging in any non-consensual sexual activity, and disrespect for safe words or a partner’s sexual boundaries.

Learn more

  • Resources
  • Information for Individuals Experiencing Relationship Violence
  • How to Help a Friend
  • Myths & Facts
  • Healthy Relationships

Contact the Department of Public Safety at 202-884-9111.



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