What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner.

Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.

This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender.

It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating.

Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women—more than car accidents, muggings, and rapes combined.

Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.

The costs of intimate partner violence in the US alone exceed $5.8 billion per year: $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.

Men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence were twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.

What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is when any person forces you to participate in a sexual act when you don’t want to. This can include touching or penetrating the vagina, mouth or anus of the victim (often called rape), touching the penis of the victim, or forcing the victim to touch the attacker’s vagina, penis, or anus. Touching can mean with a hand, finger, mouth, penis, or just about anything else, including objects.

It doesn’t always take physical force to sexually assault a victim. Attackers can use threats or intimidation to make a victim feel afraid or unable to refuse them. It is also sexual assault if the victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or too young or mentally disabled to be legally able to agree to sexual contact.

Most victims are assaulted by someone they know: a friend, date, acquaintance, or boy/girlfriend. Dating or being sexually involved with someone does not ever give anyone the right to force you to have sexual contact when you don’t want to.

Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to say “NO” at any time. You are also allowed to change your mind at any time. Being sexually assaulted is never your fault.


  • Sexual assault is a widespread and under-reported crime.
  • 44% of victims are under age 18; 80% are under age 30.
  • There is an average of 267,868 victims (age 12 or older) of sexual assault each year.
  • 60% of sexual assaults are not reported to the police.
  • Approximately 2/3 of assaults are committed by someone known to the victim.
  • 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance.
  • Sexual assault can take place in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships.