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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence 1 is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation. Domestic violence occurs within intimate relationships, and abusers can be spouses, partners, boyfriends/girlfriends, family members, or caregivers. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. Abusers use various tactics to achieve power and control, including behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone. Legal definitions of domestic violence and the protections available to victims vary from one jurisdiction to another. You can find the exact wording of the law in your state at the Women’s Law Initiative's website This link will open a new browser window.. You can also find more information about your state's laws by visiting its official state government site.


In General

Domestic violence impacts people regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or ability. However, women are much more likely to be abused by an intimate partner than men are. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. 2

For Women with Disabilities

Although the research on violence against women with disabilities and Deaf women is limited, the information available suggests that women with disabilities and their peers without disabilities face similar risk in experiencing violence. (This means that women with disabilities and Deaf women are just as likely to experience violence as women without disabilities.) However, this research also shows that for women with disabilities and Deaf women, the abuse different. For example, it is often more severe, goes on for longer periods of time, and occurs at the hand of a larger number of perpetrators. Additional research has shown that some women with disabilities are at an increased risk for experiencing this violence in additional settings as well, including group homes, hospitals and institutions. 3 In addition, women with disabilities and Deaf women have reported limited access to safety and support services available in their communities.

In This Section

We provide you with more detailed information to help you better understand domestic violence and women with disabilities and Deaf women, including:

  • stats on domestic violence in general and against women with disabilities
  • dynamics of abuse, including power and control, and barriers to safety
  • physical and psychological impact of abuse
  • myths & facts about domestic violence

Note: Some of the resources listed in this section are available as PDF files. In order to view PDFs you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. If you do not have this software installed, you can download Acrobat Reader This link will open a new browser window. for free on Adobe's web site.

1Domestic violence is sometimes referred to as abuse or relationship abuse.

2Domestic Violence Facts. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. 21 Aug. 2006. [Note: this link will download a PDF file]

3Nosek, Margaret A. and Rosemary B. Hughes. "The Personal Side of Abuse." In Violence Against Women with Physical Disabilities: Findings from Studies Conducted by the Center for Research on Women with Disabilities. 1992-2002. Baylor College of Medicine. 18 Aug. 2006.