Domestic Violence (Intimate Partner Violence)

According to the United States Department of Justice Office on Violence against Women, the definition of domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. Many types of abuse are included in the definition of domestic violence:

Physical abuse can include hitting, biting, slapping, battering, shoving, punching, pulling hair, burning, cutting, pinching, etc. (any type of violent behavior inflicted on the victim). Physical abuse also includes denying someone medical treatment and forcing drug/alcohol use on someone.

Sexual abuse occurs when the abuser coerces or attempts to coerce the victim into having sexual contact or sexual behavior without the victim's consent. This often takes the form of marital rape, attacking sexual body parts, physical violence that is followed by forcing sex, sexually demeaning the victim, or even telling sexual jokes at the victim's expense.

Emotional abuse involves invalidating or deflating the victim's sense of self-worth and/or self-esteem. Emotional abuse often takes the form of constant criticism, name-calling, injuring the victim's relationship with his/her children, or interfering with the victim's abilities.

Economic abuse takes place when the abuser makes or tries to make the victim financially reliant. Economic abusers often seek to maintain total control over financial resources, withhold the victim’s access to funds, or prohibit the victim from going to school or work.

Psychological abuse involves the abuser invoking fear through intimidation; threatening to physically hurt himself/herself, the victim, children, the victim's family or friends, or the pets; destruction of property; injuring the pets; isolating the victim from loved ones; and prohibiting the victim from going to school or work.

Threats to hit, injure, or use a weapon are a form of psychological abuse.

Stalking can include following the victim, spying, watching, harassing, showing up at the victim's home or work, sending gifts, collecting information, making phone calls, leaving written messages, or appearing at a person's home or workplace. These acts individually are typically legal, but any of these behaviors done continuously results in a stalking crime.

Cyberstalking refers to online action or repeated emailing that inflicts substantial emotional distress in the recipient.


Sexual Abuse

What is sexual violence?

Sexual violence means that someone forces or manipulates someone else into unwanted sexual activity without their consent. Reasons someone might not consent include fear, age, illness, disability, and/or influence of alcohol or other drugs. Anyone can experience sexual violence including: children, teens, adults, and elders. Those who sexually abuse can be acquaintances, family members, trusted individuals or strangers.

Forms of sexual violence

• Rape or sexual assault

• Child sexual assault and incest

• Intimate partner sexual assault

• Unwanted sexual contact/touching

• Sexual harassment

• Sexual exploitation

• Showing one’s genitals or naked body to other(s) without consent

• Masturbating in public

• Watching someone in a private act without their knowledge or permission 

Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual abuse is a form of child abuse that includes sexual activity with a minor. A child cannot consent to any form of sexual activity, period. When a perpetrator engages with a child this way, they are committing a crime that can have lasting effects on the victim for years. Child sexual abuse does not need to include physical contact between a perpetrator and a child.

Some forms of child sexual abuse include:

• Exhibitionism, or exposing oneself to a minor

• Fondling

• Intercourse

• Masturbation in the presence of a minor or forcing the minor to masturbate

• Obscene phone calls, text messages, or digital interaction

• Producing, owning, or sharing pornographic images or movies of children

• Sex of any kind with a minor, including vaginal, oral, or anal

• Sex trafficking

• Any other sexual conduct that is harmful to a child's mental, emotional, or physical welfare

Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are health conditions involving changes in emotion, thinking or behavior (or a combination of these). Mental illnesses are associated with distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.

Mental illness is common. In a given year:

• nearly one in five (19 percent) U.S. adults experience some form of mental illness

• one in 24 (4.1 percent) has a serious mental illness*

• one in 12 (8.5 percent) has a diagnosable substance use disorder

Mental illness is treatable. The vast majority of individuals with mental illness continue to function in their daily lives.


Human Trafficking

Human trafficking involves the use of force, fraud, or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex act. Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked worldwide – including right here in the United States. It can happen in any community and victims can be any age, race, gender, or nationality. Traffickers might use violence, manipulation, or false promises of well-paying jobs or romantic relationships to lure victims into trafficking situations.


Language barriers, fear of their traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement frequently keep victims from seeking help, making human trafficking a hidden crime.


Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are susceptible for a variety of reasons, including psychological or emotional vulnerability, economic hardship, and lack of a social safety net, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma caused by the traffickers can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings.