Domestic Violence



Domestic violence, or "intimate partner violence," affects the lives of millions of people. It's been the subject of hundreds of books, magazine articles, movies, and television programs.  It is widely known that acts of physical violence are against the law.  But physical violence is only one part of domestic violence. And most of us find it hard to believe that it could be happening to us or to someone we know and care about.


Domestic violence is at epidemic proportions in communities across the United States – including communities in Westmoreland County.  If you or someone you love needs help, please do not hesitate to call us at 1-888-832-2272.



Types of Domestic Violence


Abusive behavior rarely shows up at the beginning of a relationship. In fact, many abusers can be exceptionally charming when they choose to be.


Domestic violence can take several forms:


• Physical:  This is the most overt form of battering and includes pushing, hitting, beating, inflicting injury

  with weapons, homicide, and suicide.


• Verbal/Emotional: This type of abuse includes non-physical behavior such as insults, threats, constant

  monitoring or checking in, humiliation, isolation, intimidation and stalking. To learn more about emotional

  abuse,  please read our Blackburn 101 series.


• Psychological:  Characterized as "brainwashing", a person's self-worth is destroyed through harassment,

  threats, or deprivation of food and sleep.


• Sexual:  When sexual abuse occurs between spouses/partners, it is rape.  When sexual abuse is inflicted on

  children or teenagers by an older family member, it is incest.


• Destruction of Property or Pets:  The destruction of property or pets may be another way that a person

  who batters is abusive.  The destruction of the objects may also carry the message, "This time it's the car or

  the china; next time I could hurt you.”


• Reproductive Coercion:  This type of abuse can include threats or acts of violence against a partner's

  reproductive health or reproductive decision-making and is a collection of behaviors intended to pressure or

  coerce a partner into becoming a parent or ending a pregnancy. Learn more about reproductive coercion in 

  our Blackburn 101 series.


If your partner is an abuser, you may have noticed that he (or she) does some of these things:


            • Humiliates, degrades, criticizes or insults you.

            • Threatens to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with him.

            • Breaks things, especially your things, on purpose.

            • Threatens to do things like take the children, or harm your pet, or get you fired.

            • If you are in a same-gender relationship, the abuser may threaten to "out" you.

            • Controls or interferes with where you go, what you do, and who you spend time with.

            • Insults your friends and family.

            • Makes you follow his (or her) rules (and sometimes changes the rules without warning).

            • Accuses you of being unfaithful.

            • Blames you for the way he (or she) treats you.

            • Ignores you or makes fun of you when you're angry, hurt, or upset.


Facts About Domestic Violence


    • Domestic violence and other forms of abuse occur at all levels of society, among all kinds of people.

      Dating couples, married couples, and same-gender couples experience domestic violence in much the

      same way.

    • Adults with disabilities are at an increased risk of domestic violence.  Women with disabilites and Deaf

      women are 1.5 to 2 times more likely than non-disabled women to experience abuse.  Adults with

      developmental disabilities are 4 - 10 times more likely to be abused.  They are often more vulnerable to

      emotional, physical, financial and sexual abuse, and may face barriers to getting help or receiving services.       At Blackburn Center, we make every effort to accomodate any person who requires our services.

    • Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. From 2003 through 2012, women

      accounted for 76 percent of the victims of intimate partner violence and men accounted for

      approximately 24 percent of the victims.


    • Verbal or emotional abuse can cause a victim to believe what her partner says about her, and to blame

      herself for her partner's abusive behavior.


    • Abuse is the fault of the abuser. To ask what the victim did "wrong" ignores the fact that abusive

      behavior is a choice made by the abuser. Other choices are always available to the abuser.


    • Alcohol and other drugs often contribute to violence, but they do not cause it. Batterers often drink to

      prepare for battering, or so they can use "I was drunk" as an excuse.


    • Rather than being "out of control," most batterers are in complete control of their battering - and in

      complete control of their choice of victim. Some are careful to inflict injuries only where they won't show,

      while others deliberately try to disfigure their victims.


    • The most lethal time for a domestic violence victim may be when s/he leaves the relationship.  Domestic

      violence that ends in murder frequently occurs after the victim is separated from the abuser or has begun

      to take actions to end the relationship. A victim may stay in the relationship because of fear that s/he will

      suffer significant injury or death if s/he attempts to end the relationship.


   • Many women receive their first beating when they become pregnant.


    • There is nothing a victim can do to change the abuser's behavior. Abusers change only when they decide

      they want to.


    • It is illegal to physically or sexually assault, stalk, threaten, harass or restrain another individual.  Domestic

      violence is against the law.


You have the right to be treated with respect, to make your own choices, to live without fear, and to be less than perfect. And that's a fact!


Abusers feel a need to control their partners—to show their partners how powerful they are. Many use violence, or the threat of violence; others rely on psychological abuse. Victims often report that the psychological (or emotional or mental) abuse is even worse than being hit.


Domestic Violence Law


Under Pennsylvania law, if you have been subjected to any of the following types of abuse, you may be able to obtain a Protection From Abuse order (PFA):


1. Attempting to, or intentionally or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, spousal

    sexual assault or involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with or without a deadly weapon;

2. Placing another in reasonable fear of imminentserious bodily injury;

3. False imprisonment, as defined under the crimescode;

4. Physically or sexually abusing minor children;and/or

5. Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another

    person, including following the person, undercircumstances which place the person in reasonable

    fear of bodily injury.



If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.


To learn more about PFAs, including how to seek legal assistance in obtaining a PFA against an abuser, click here.  For more resources on domestic violence, please click here.



More about Types of Abuse:

Sexual Assault

Teen Issues

Elder Abuse

LGBTQ Issues


Sexual Harrasment




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