According to the Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try and control her/him.
Approximately one third of all women in the United States will experience relationship abuse sometime in her life,* and approximately 95% of all relationship abuse is perpetrated by men.** Relationship abuse is equally frequent in same-sex relationships as in heterosexual relationships
There are many myths associated with relationship abuse that require addressing if we as a society are ever to move toward reduction or elimination of abuse. Specifically, the pages here are devoted to clarifying myths associated with the causes of abuse, mutual abuse, barriers to leaving, and false criteria for identifying abuse. To find out more about the warning signs and types of abuse, please visit www.stoprelationshipabuse.org.
* American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report on the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 10.
** Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Violence Between Inmates (NCJ-149259), November 1994; A Report of the Violence Against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.