What is domestic violence? Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of threatening or controlling behavior imposed on a person by someone without regard to their rights, feelings, body or health. A person is abused if intentional, often repeated, physical, sexual or emotional harm done to them by a person with whom they have had an intimate relationship.

Abuse can be actual or threatened. In most violent relationships, mental abuse and bullying go along with physical force. Abuse can take any of several forms:

  • Battering and physical assault: Throwing objects at the victim, pushing, hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, beating or attacking with a weapon.
  • Sexual assault: Forced sexual activity, including vaginal, oral or anal intercourse.
  • Psychological abuse: Forcing the victim to perform degrading acts, threatening to harm a partner or her children, attacking or smashing valued objects and pets, or trying to dominate or control a woman’s life.

There are many ways an abuser may try to control a person’s life. Some may take away money, food, sleep, clothing or transportation. Some abusers may keep the victim from being in touch with her family and friends.

If you are in an abusive relationship, the first step is to tell someone. The person you tell may be a family member, friend, counselor, nurse, doctor or a clergy member. It will be challenging to discuss this at first, but many victims feel a great sense of relief and some sense of safety once they have told someone outside the home.

If you are in a domestic violent situation and ready to leave, first make a safety plan:

  • Pack a suitcase
  • Keep special items in a safe place
  • Talk to your children
  • Know exactly where you will go
  • Know where you’ll go if you cannot escape the violence
  • Call the police

If you have any questions regarding this topic, please contact me at (903) 935-8414 or ldmcdonald@ag.tamu.edu.

Louraiseal McDonald is the county agent for family and community health in Harrison County.