Office of the Prosecuting Attorney

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a violent confrontation between family or household members involving physical harm, sexual assault, or fear of physical harm. Family or household members include spouses/former spouses, those in (or formerly in) a dating relationship where they have lived together, adults related by blood or marriage that have lived together in the past, and those who have a biological or legal parent-child relationship. Domestic violence exists in a three-fold cycle.

The cycle of violence beings with the build up of tension where voices are raised and threats are made. The batterer may begin taking alcohol and drugs at this stage, later using this as an excuse for the abuse.

At the end of the tension building stage, the violent abuse occurs. The abuse may last from seconds to minutes to hours.

In the final stage, often referred to as the honeymoon stage, the abuser tries to make up for the violence in stage two. They will give flowers, candy, compliments, and sympathy. They will apologize to the victim, making promises that the abuse will never happen again and they will do anything to make sure that it does not happen again.

Eventually, the honeymoon stage gives over to the tension building stage and the cycle starts all over again.

Domestic Violence destroys the home. No one deserves to be abused. The responsibility for the violence belongs to the abuser. It is not the victim's fault! HELP IS AVAILABLE THROUGH THE VICTIM ASSISTANCE PROGRAM OF THE KALAMAZOO COUNTY PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE AND THE YWCA-Domestic Assault Program.

Why should i get help?

THE DANGER IS REAL. If you are controlling or have a controlling partner, don't ignore these behaviors. They are not the result of stress, anger, drugs, or alcohol. They are learned behaviors that one person uses to dominate, intimidate, and manipulate. They are destructive and dangerous. If the abuse continues without help, the abusing partner may risk being arrested, going to jail, or losing the relationship.

Domestic Abuse Intervention Project
206 W. Fourth Street, Duluth, MN

Learn the warning signs

Disagreements develop from time to time in any relationship. Domestic violence is not just a disagreement. It is a whole pattern of behaviors used by one partner to establish and maintain power and control over the other. These behaviors become more frequent and intense over time. You can learn how to see personality characteristics that may give you some warning signs of a batterer. The Power and Control wheel above gives some examples of how abusers hold the power and control over the victim. For example, the batterer may threaten to kidnap or injure the children if the victim does not do what the batterer wants. In order to better control the victim, the batterer may keep the victim isolated from their family and friends with no outside financial security.

There are three kinds of abuse: Physical, Emotional, and Sexual. It is all about power and control. A victim may experience one, two, or all three forms of abuse. This list may help identify specific kinds of abuse.

Physical Abuse
  • slapping, pushing, shoving
  • holding you to keep you from leaving
  • slapping or biting you
  • kicking or choking you
  • hitting or punching you
  • throwing objects at you
  • locking you out of the house
  • abandoning you in dangerous places
  • refusing you help when you are sick, injured, pregnant
  • subjecting you to reckless driving
  • forcing you off the road or keeping you from driving
  • raping you
  • threatening you or hurting you with a weapon
Emotional Abuse
  • speeding through traffic to scare you
  • playing with weapons to scare you
  • taking pills to scare you
  • faking physical attacks/ailments, then they are OK when they get what they want
  • making threats like, "I know a guy in Chicago, he'll take care of you, you'll never be seen again".
  • taking away control of where you go and who you see
  • taking control of your sleep patterns by waking you up in the middle of the night to listen to 2-3 hours of B.S. or being so terrorized that a pin-drop would wake you
  • keeping you malnourished; eating is not a priority, just surviving is; too upset to eat
  • keeping you isolated from friends and family (so you can't check perceptions of yourself with others)
  • saying all your friends are losers
  • saying everyone has an "ulterior motive" in their actions
  • saying they're (friends and relatives) just "using you"
  • controlling you by keeping you in constant fear
  • keeping you on eggshells every minute with comments like, "Don't get me started..."
  • minimizing or ignoring your feelings
  • ridiculing or insulting your most valued beliefs, religion, race, heritage, or class
  • withholding approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment
  • continually criticizing you, calling you names, shouting at you
  • controlling your money
  • manipulating you with contradictions
  • threatening to kidnap your children if you leave
Sexual Abuse
  • insisting on unwanted and uncomfortable touching
  • forcing you to strip when you don't want to
  • forcing sex with him or others or forcing you to watch others
  • forcing sex after beating
  • forcing particular unwanted sexual acts
  • forcing sex when you are sick or it is a danger to your health
  • forcing sex for the purpose of hurting you with objects or weapons
  • committing sadistic sexual acts