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Understanding Domestic Violence



W H A T   I S   D O M E S T I C   V I O L E N C E   ?


According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is a “pattern of coercive behaviors used to control an intimate partner.” Domestic violence includes not only physical violence, but also emotional, sexual and financial abuse. It occurs in every socio-economic, racial and religious group and across every age, gender and sexual orientation. Domestic violence affects not only those abused, but witnesses, family members, co-workers, friends and the community at large. Children who witness domestic violence are survivors too. Constant exposure to violence in the home and to abusive role models teaches children that violence is a normal way of life—placing them at risk of becoming society’s next generation of survivors and abusers.


Domestic violence is about power and control. The goal of the abuser is to dominate the survivor and have all of the authority in the relationship; the abuser may use violence in order to establish and maintain command and power. Perpetrators of domestic violence have usually learned abusive, manipulative methods and behaviors in their own life experiences that allow them to control others—perpetuating the cycle of abuse onto more individuals. An abuser may use a number of tactics to gain power in a relationship, including the following strategies: dominance, humiliation, isolation, threats, intimidation, denial and blame.


Individuals do not intentionally become involved in a relationship they know to be violent or abusive. Domestic violence usually has subtle beginnings. The courtship often begins with love, but turns to dominance, control and sometimes violence. Survivors may stay in an abusive situation for various reasons— fear; love; threats to harm the survivor, loved ones, or pets; threats of suicide; religious reasons; believing the abuser will change; self-blame; limited financial or housing options; low self-esteem; and/or embarrassment and shame. 

W H Y   I T   M A T T E R S


Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.

F A S T   F A C T S


  • One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.

  • An estimated 1.3 million women are survivors of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

  • Women of all races are nearly equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate partner.

  • Nearly three out of four Americans personally know someone who is or has been a survivor of domestic abuse.

  • There are more than 500 rapes/sexual assaults in the United States per day.

  • Young women, ages 20 to 24, experience the highest rates of rape and sexual assault.

  • An estimated 12 percent of women attending American colleges have been raped.

  • Survivors of rape or sexual assault were about four times more likely to be taken advantaged of by someone they knew than by a stranger.

  • Over 2 million people call a domestic violence crisis or hotline each year to escape crisis situations, seek advice or assist someone they thought might be a survivor.

  • Studies show that access to shelter services leads to a 60 to 70 percent reduction in incidence and severity of re-assault during the follow-up period compared to women who did not access a shelter. Shelter services led to greater reduction in severe re-assault when compared to seeking court or law enforcement protection or moving to a new location.

T A K E   A   S T A N D 


  1. Ask your local library to stock books on domestic abuse and to set up displays to educate the public about the issue.

  2. Speak out against domestic abuse. Expressing your view that domestic abuse is unacceptable has a powerful effect on changing the norms that support abuse.

  3. Write letters to newspaper editors or send commentaries to TV and radio stations to help raise awareness about domestic abuse.

  4. Vote for public leaders who take a strong stand against domestic abuse.

  5. Call 9-1-1 if you see or hear a crime of domestic abuse in progress. Write down license plate numbers, locations and any other information that may be helpful to law enforcement.

  6. Volunteer with a domestic violence service. Organizations need help with office activities, fundraising events, technical and professional services, and assistance to clients.

  7. Donate used clothing and household goods to a program that gives these vital items to families seeking independence from an abuser.

  8. Recognize, respond and refer. If you or someone you know is being impacted by domestic abuse, there is help available. Educate yourself about domestic abuse and domestic abuse service providers in the area. 

  9. “Adopt” a family seeking independence from an abuser to assist with practical needs.



National Domestic Violence Hotline

(800) 799 7233


National Sexual Assault Hotline

(800) 656 4673


Love is Respect

(866) 331 9474

or text “campus” to 22522


National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline

(866) 331 9474

More Resources from Alpha Chi Omega

Domestic Violence Awareness Guide

Alpha Chi Omega, Inc.

Breaking the Silence

Lyre Magazine

Alpha Chi Omega, Inc.

Stop the Silence, End the Violence

Lyre Magazine

Alpha Chi Omega, Inc.

Sexual Assault and Dating Violence

Lyre Magazine

Alpha Chi Omega, Inc.

More Resources from the UC Berkeley Gender Equity Resource Center

Sexual Harassment

GenEq Brochure

Sexual Assult and Rape

GenEq Brochure

Dating Violence

GenEq Brochure


GenEq Brochure

Make a Donation


If you would be interested in making a monetary donation to the Domestic Violence Awareness campaign, consider supporting our shelter for survivors, Ruby's Place. Proceeds from Pi chapter's philanthropy events are donated here. Monetary donations both big and small are greatly appreciated. If you would be interested, please visit

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