Violence in a relationship takes many forms. The frequency can vary from a single incident to repeated or consistent abuse and participation can range from mutual involvement to one partner always hurting the other.

Intimate partner violence (IPV, also known as domestic violence or DV) refers to one type of relationship violence and features one partner who perpetrates a pattern of harmful behaviors in order to exert power over and/or control the other partner. Harmful behaviors may include physical, emotional,* sexual, or economic abuse. Ultimately, the repeated use of these behaviors creates a dynamic in which the abuser elicits fear or intimidation from the abused person.

* Note: Emotional abuse is sometimes called psychological, mental, or verbal abuse.

TYPES OF ABUSE (Download information!)

What is physical abuse? 


Physical abuse includes any type of unwanted behavior that prevents movement, denies physical needs, or harms a person's body.


Examples include:

• Blocking doors/exits                          

• Holding or restraining                       

• Grabbing

• Denying physical needs

• Forcing drug/alcohol use

• Threatening to use/using weapons

• Pushing

• Scratching

• Slapping

• Hitting

• Disrupting sleep

• Punching

• Kicking

• Strangulation/"Choking"

• Burning

• Throwing objects

What is emotional abuse? 


Emotional abuse includes any behavior that degrades a person's actions, character, or esteem and results in shame, intimidation, or coercion.


Examples include:

• Silent treatment/stonewalling

• Interrogation and extreme jealousy

• Swearing/screaming

• Denying/minimizing impact of abuse

• Spitting

• Destroying property

• Monitoring

• Forced participation in demeaning behaviors

   (begging, kneeling, etc.)

• Name calling or insulting the victim, their family, or

   their beliefs/ideas

• Ignoring/disparaging feelings

• Gaslighting/brainwashing

• Using children

• Blaming

• Rejecting

• Threatening to injure/injuring pets

• Blackmailing and/or exploiting disabilities

• Threatening legal action

• Threatening homicide or suicide

What is sexual abuse? 


Sexual abuse includes any type of unwanted behavior that requires visual, verbal, and/or physical participation in conduct related to sex, sexuality, and/or sexual health.


Examples include:

• Embarrassing comments or jokes

• Insulting sexual history/preferences

• Pressuring or using guilt to attain sex

• Engaging in infidelity after promised monogamy

• Distributing or online posting of sexual content featuring partner ("revenge porn")

• Forcing or denying contraceptive use or abortion/sterilization

• Insisting that partner have sex with other people (with or without compensation)

• Any sexual contact without consent (due to unwillingness or inability to consent)

• Criticizing sexual performance

• Withholding sex as punishment

• Using demeaning names

• Forced exposure to pornography

What is economic abuse? 


Economic abuse includes any behavior that harms a person's financial stability. 

Examples include:

• Denying access to financial accounts

• Controlling financial decision making

• Refusing to pay bills

• Excessive spending of shared funds

• Monitoring spending (i.e. tracking purchases, issuing strict allowance)

• Refusing to work/contribute to household

• Barring victim from working

• Interfering with victim's work/place of employment

• Excluding victim's name from deeds/titles

What are other common forms of abuse?

• Social isolation

• Stalking

• Harassment

• Using gender stereotypes/myths

• Degrading family, culture, or religion

• Justifying abuse with culture or religion

• Forcing participation in behaviors contrary to religious beliefs

• Public humiliation

• Distributing private materials (e.g. journal entries)

• Taking car keys, cell phone, money, etc.

• Sabotaging vehicle

• Denying access to work, education, or health care

• Destroying property


Safety is the primary concern for anyone experiencing IPV. Review the following questions to help yourself and your child(ren) stay safe. 

Note: Preparing to leave, leaving, and being recently separated are the most dangerous time periods for victims of IPV. Be careful and get help if/when you plan to leave an abusive relationship!

While staying in the home: (Download)

  • Is there a phone accessible at all times? Note: All charged cell phones have the built-in capacity to dial 911, even in the event that the phone is disconnected from a cell phone carrier. If your partner is denying access to safe, unmonitored, or reliable phone, CAP can help! Contact us for more information!

  • Where are the exits in the home?

  • Are there any weapons in the home? If so, what are they? Can you secure or get rid of them?

  • Are there any other potential threats or dangers in the home? Consider items that could be repurposed as weapons, rooms that are difficult to exit, etc.

  • What are the safest rooms in the home? Which rooms can you quickly exit?

  • Could you improve the safety of certain rooms? How so?

  • In the event of a potentially violent dispute, where will you go? How will you get there?

  • What are your partner's cues that signal an increased risk of a violent dispute?

  • Have you talked to your child(ren) about staying safe during a violent dispute? If not, how could you bring it up?

  • Do your children have a specific safety plan? How will they know when to use it?

  • Who would be a helpful part of your and your children's safety plan? Can you talk to them in advance about their role in the plan?

Preparing to leave: (Download)

  • Are you employed or do you have a personal source of income?

  • Do you have a joint account? If yes, can you transfer your assets?

  • Do you have a personal account that your partner is unable to access?

  • Who could you stay with should you decide to leave?

  • If you decided to leave, do you have easy access to transportation? How could you improve your

  •    transportation access?

  • Do you have documentation of past injuries or text/email threats? Where do you keep this 

  •    documentation?

  • Do you have a pet? If yes, what are your plans for the pet if/when you leave? NOTE: The Tri-County Animal Shelter can care for your pets while you exit a dangerous situation! Contact the shelter at 301-932-1713 or 800-903-1992.

  • What personal items would you want to take with you? Which of your children's items would you want to take?

  • Can you make a "go bag" to keep in your car, at work, or with a trusted person?

  • Would you benefit from a disposable cell phone or a safety deposit box?

  • Do you have easy access to the following items?

• Birth certificates for self and children

• Social security card

• Documentation of abuse

• Checkbook, debit/credit cards

• Marriage license

• Driver's license and registration

• Keys to home and car

• Lease/rental agreements

• Health, home, and car insurance cards

• Copy of protective order

• Passport

• Prescription medications

• Cash, if connected through joint account

• Divorce and other legal papers

• Car title

• I-94, work permits, and/or Green Cards

• Bills/mortgage statements

During and after leaving: (Download)

  • Are there windows of time when your partner is not home or when you could exit the home without arousing suspicion (e.g. when running errands)?

  • Will your children be home when you decide to leave? If not, what is the plan for picking them up from school, daycare, or another location?

  • Do you need to inform anyone at your intended destination that you are leaving?

  • Who else do you need to tell about your decision to leave?

  • Do you have easy access to the items listed in the previous section?

Once you leave, consider taking the following actions, if possible and/or applicable:

• Get a protective order (Note: Consider prohibiting contact or restricting it to one method (e.g. only by email))

• Change your phone number or purchase a disposable cell phone.

• Open a personal bank account.

• Obtain a post office box.

• Develop a check-in plan with a trusted person and detail when and how often you will contact them.

• Leave your workplace and walk to your car or bus/metro station with a "buddy".

• Change your route to work.

• Change your work schedule.

• Shop at different stores or at different times than you typically would.

• Inform you work supervisor, work/home security personnel, and children's school of the situation, especially if you have a protective order.

• Create a list of approved individuals with whom your children may leave school and events and share this list with administrators, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, etc.

• If you need to contact your partner, make sure that another person is present to overhear the call.

If your partner is the one to leave, remember that their exit does not mean that they won't try to come back. In their absence, arrange to do the following:

• Keep doors and windows locked at all times.

• Remove any spare keys or garage openers from hidden locations.

• Change the locks* on all doors leading outside including garage locks and/or entry codes.

• Install a security system and motion sensor outdoor lights.

• Remove or secure all weapons.

• Obtain a protective order that prevents your partner's return.

• Contact police to arrange for drive-by check-ins.

• If your partner is away due to incarceration, register for Maryland's Victim Information and Notification Everyday (VINE) program.

* Note: The Criminal Injuries Compensation Board may be able to reimburse you for the costs associated with staying safe following a crime. To learn more, visit their website by clicking here.