Domestic violence is about being degraded, controlled, threatened and/or physically abused by someone that you love or are closely related to, someone that you have previously trusted or that you would expect to be able to trust. It may be a former or current boyfriend/girlfriend, cohabitant or spouse, sibling, parent or adult child.

If anyone whom you are close to frightens you, or perhaps gets you to do things that you do not want to do, prevents you from living your own life, causes you pain or speaks of you in a degrading manner, that is domestic violence.

A brief description of the various categories:

Physical violence means all physical acts that control or harm you. This includes being threatened with objects, beaten, suffering burn marks, strangleholds and being physically restrained, among other things. All physical violence is also psychological violence.

Psychological violence also includes when someone uses words or their voice to control or frighten you and actions or passivity intended to control or frighten you that make you feel degraded and afraid. It may consist of repeated hurtful criticism, or it may be that you are isolated, ignored, blamed, interrogated, unjustly accused or exposed to direct or indirect threats etc.

Sexual violence is what somebody does to humiliate, degrade and control you. Sexual violence is the most destructive form of violence because it is an attack on your most private sphere

Material violence is violence against things and objects around you. It may consist of breaking or destroying things, breaking or destroying objects that you are fond of, or smashing furniture or other things in the home. Acts of material violence are particularly frightening if they are committed by a person who has previously committed acts of psychological or physical violence against the person.

Latent violence is violence that you experience because you know it can happen or know that there is a possibility of it happening. This is often the predominant form of domestic violence. Fear of new episodes of violence can dominate everything you do, even if no actual threat is made.

As a victim of violence, you are not responsible for what you have been exposed to. It is the perpetrator of violence who is responsible.

You must not feel shame or guilt on account of the painful experiences you have suffered.

Your responsibility is to start to regain control of your life and protect any children you have, and we can help you with that.

Most people who have experienced domestic violence feel:

  • low self-confidence
  • shameful and guilty
  • hopelessness
  • that they have lost their belief that they can cope alone
  • that they have lost their social network

These are very common reactions after being exposed to violence.