What is Domestic Violence?

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.

If you’re beginning to feel as if your partner or a loved one’s partner is becoming abusive, there are a few behaviors that you can look out for. Watch out for these red flags and if you’re experiencing one or more of them in your relationship, call or chat online with an advocate to talk about what’s going on.

Warning Signs and Red Flags

• Telling you that you can never do anything right
• Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
• Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
• Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
• Controlling every penny spent in the household
• Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
• Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
• Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
• Preventing you from making your own decisions
• Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
• Preventing you from working or attending school
• Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
• Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
• Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
• Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol

Physical abuse can be...

• Pulling your hair, punching, slapping, kicking, biting or choking you
• Forbidding you from eating or sleeping
• Hurting you or threatening to hurt you
• Preventing you from calling the police or seeking medical attention
• Harming your children
• Abandoning you in unfamiliar places
• Driving recklessly or dangerously when you are in the car with them
• Forcing you to use drugs or alcohol (especially if you’ve had a substance abuse problem in the past)

Emotional abuse can be...

• Accusing you of cheating and being often jealous of your outside relationships
• Serially cheating on you and then blaming you for his or her behavior
• Cheating on you intentionally to hurt you and then threatening to cheat again
• Cheating to prove that they are more desired, worthy, etc. than you are
• Attempting to control your appearance: what you wear, how much/little makeup you wear, etc.
• Telling you that you will never find anyone better, or that you are lucky to be with a person like them
A woman not her husband is in control of her reproductive rights.

Does your husband...

• Withhold money to purchase birth control
• Monitoring your menstrual cycles
• Refuse to use a condom or other type of birth control
• Break or remove condom during intercourse
• Forcing you to not use any birth control (ex. the pill, condom, shot, ring, etc.)
• Remove birth control methods (ex. rings, IUDs, contraceptive patches)
• Sabotaging birth control methods (ex. poking holes in condoms, tampering with pills or flushing them down the toilet)
• Forcing pregnancy and not supporting your decision about when or if you want to have a child
• Forcing you to get an abortion, or preventing you from getting one
• Threatening you or acting violent if you don’t comply with their wishes to either end or continue a pregnancy
• Continually keeping you pregnant (getting you pregnant again shortly after you give birth)
If you have questions or concerns, please call ASHA


40.8% of South Asian women report that they had been physically and/or sexually abused in some way by their current male partners in their lifetime.

  • According to the most recent data, 36.9% reported having been victimized in the past year
  • 65% of the women reporting physical abuse also reported sexual abuse
  • Almost a third (30.4%) of those reporting sexual abuse reported injuries, some requiring medical attention
  • Only 3.1% of the abused South Asian women in the study had ever obtained a restraining order against an abusive partner
  • 11% of South Asian women reporting intimate partner violence indicated receiving counseling support services for domestic abuse

This rate is substantially lower than that reported in a study of women in Massachusetts, in which over 33% of women who reported intimate partner violence in the past 5 years had obtained a restraining order.

Women who reported intimate partner violence were more likely than those without such violence to indicate that they had experienced “poor physical health in 7 or more of the last 30 days” (19.5% vs. 6.7%), “depression [in] 7 or more of the last 30 days” (31.8% vs. 10.2%), “anxiety [in] 7 or more of the last 30 days” (34.1% vs. 20.1%), and “suicidal ideation during the last year” (15.9% vs. 2.5%).

No significant difference was found in the prevalence of domestic violence between arranged marriages [typically refers to marriages arranged by parents or relatives of each member of the couple] and non-arranged marriages.

Reference: Raj A, Silverman J. Intimate partner violence against South-Asian women in Greater Boston. Journal of American Medical Women’s Association. 2002; 57(2)