Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior that seeks to control, coerce or exert power over a spouse, partner, girl/boyfriend or family member. Domestic violence includes physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial and structural abuse.

It is a learned behavior and is not caused by alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness, anger management etc. These are just excuses and can often lead to further harmful stereotyping of people with mental illness.

Domestic violence impacts people regardless of age, class, caste, gender or religion. It is inaccurate and harmful to classify domestic violence as something that happens in working class homes or due to a lack of education.

It is PCVC’s experience that people of all backgrounds face domestic violence. Response to help seeking behavior and access and resources available vary and this is an inequity that needs to be corrected by both institutions and civil society organizations.

Women and queer individuals are disproportionately impacted by domestic violence and pay the price for it with a loss in access and mobility, education and career, mental and physical health. Queer individuals are exceptionally vulnerable to domestic violence due to a lack of acceptance of their identities by family, community and institutional structures which are all sites of violence against them.

  • Taking control of aspects of everyday life – what to wear, whom to see and speak to, where to go, when to sleep, eat, shower etc.
  • Isolating from friends and family.
  • Monitoring time and activities.
  • Monitoring/controlling phone and online communication and social media activities. Coming home unexpectedly to check on them. Keeping them in a constant state of fear and anxiety.
  • Threatening to kill the victim or themselves unless all demands are met.
  • Telling them they are mentally unstable or incompetent. Forcing them to visit a psychiatrist, take medication against their will.
  • Not letting them practice their religious, cultural or food beliefs and habits and belittling them.
  • Insulting and demeaning them to undermine self-esteem. Repeatedly putting them down and telling them they are worthless.
  • Enforcing rules and activity that are degrading, humiliating or dehumanizing. Restricting mobility – cannot leave the house without permission.
  • Destruction of personal possessions and meaningful items.
  • Controlling finances, enforcing an allowance, taking away access to bank accounts, allowing no say in how money is spent.
  • Making them lose job by making them consistently late, making them take too many off days, harassing by calling/showing up at work.
  • Persistent manipulation that makes them question their own perception of reality and creating confusion and insecurity in them by distorting statements, planting self-doubt, making them believe their version of events to be untrue, admit to and apologize for things that they did not do.
  • Hitting, kicking, slapping, punching, scratching, stabbing, shaking, biting, shooting, pulling hair, pinching, burning, drowning, choking, pulling, pushing, dragging, hitting with an object, threatening physical assault, threatening with a weapon.
  • Withholding physical needs – interrupting sleep or meals, denying money, medical care, food, transportation.
  • Abusing, injuring or threatening to injure others – children, pets, other family members.
  • Holding hostage, physical restraint, not letting her leave the house, being locked in or trapped.
  • Breaking things in the house, throwing objects, kicking walls or doors, banging head against the wall, destruction of property.
  • Threatening to hurt or kill the victim, or their children, family, pets.
  • Name calling – referring to them by demeaning names, slurs.
  • Telling them they are stupid, undesirable or unworthy.
  • Yelling and screaming at them.
  • Refusing to talk to them.
  • Using force, coercion, guilt or manipulation to make them engage in non-consensual sexual activity.
  • Making them feel guilty or fearful of refusing sexual activity.
  • Body shaming or humiliating them during sex.
  • Withholding sex to control them.
  • Humiliating them for initiating sexual activity or exhibiting desire.
  • Taking photos or videos of sexual activity without their knowledge or consent.
  • Making them feel guilty or scared of refusing sexual activity.
  • Excessive suspicion and false accusations of infidelity.

Dating violence is controlling, aggressive and abusive behavior by one member of an intimate, un-married romantic relationship towards another. It can include physical, verbal, emotional or sexual abuse. It can include boyfriends, girlfriends, live-in partners and can happen in straight or queer relationships.

Signs that you may be in a relationship with an abusive partner:

Your Partner:

  • Physically hurts you.
  • Is extremely jealous and possessive.
  • Constantly puts you down.
  • Tells you what to do – how to dress, who to speak to/not speak to.
  • Reads your text messages, emails, social media messages without your permission.
  • Insists on sharing all passwords.
  • Has extreme mood swings and an explosive temper.
  • Makes false accusations.
  • Isolates you from your friends and family.
  • Blames you for his/her problems.



  • Apologize for your partner’s behaviour and make excuses for it.
  • Worry about upsetting your partner or getting him/her angry.
  • Constantly walk on eggshells around them.
  • Feel afraid not to answer calls or texts immediately even if you are busy.
  • Stop doing things that were important to you because you want to make your partner happy.
  • Cancel plans with your friends at the last minute more often.
  • Try to hide injuries and bruises.

Stalking is a pattern of behavior that is characterized by repeated, unwanted contact, harassment, surveillance and monitoring of an individual that causes uncertainty and fear. Stalkers can be people one knows very well or complete strangers. Women are more vulnerable to being stalked and they are most often stalked by ex-husbands, ex-boyfriends, ex-partners, men who are persistently propositioning them and cannot take no for an answer etc.


Signs to watch out for:

  • Waiting at the victim’s home, workplace or neighborhood un-invited.
  • Persistent phone calls, emails and messages.
  • Breaking into the victim’s home or vehicle and taking personal possessions.
  • Vandalizing, defacing personal property.
  • Hacking into the victim’s email, bank account etc.
  • Leaving gifts such as flowers, sweets at the front door, in the vehicle etc
  • Posting threatening or personal information on online forums.
  • Spamming personal inbox and social media accounts.
  • Using GPS or other tracking software to keep track of whereabouts.
  • Using spyware to keep track of computer activity.

If you recognize any of these signs, feel vulnerable and unsafe in public or in your home, feel watched at all times, feel stressed, experience loss of appetite and sleep etc, please seek help immediately. Stalking is a high-risk behavior that requires immediate intervention to ensure you safe

The victim usually does something to provoke the violence.

Regardless of the situation, the use of violence in a relationship is never acceptable or justifiable. There is NO EXCUSE for domestic violence.

The violence isn’t usually that bad, or the victim would just leave.

Leaving a violent relationship is never easy and is fraught with dangers. The violence often increases and sometimes becomes life-threatening when women try to leave. The financial costs of leaving, the social taboo, the lack of support from family and institutional structures, the lack of safe options, threats of harm, including death, to the victim and their children trap them in abusive relationships.

Drinking, stress and a short temper cause domestic abuse.

Alcohol and drugs may increase violence and some abusers may be prone to violence when they are under the influence. Alcohol and drug abuse may sometimes overlap with violence and are factors to be considered, but they are not the underlying cause of violence. Many perpetrators exhibit a pattern of controlling behavior and abuse even when they are sober. It is important to place the responsibility for the violence on the perpetrator and not make excuses.

Abusive men are usually mentally ill.

The vast majority of men who abuse women are not mentally ill. Research indicates that the percentage of abusers with mental health problems is no higher than in the general population. Perpetuating this idea leads to many harmful stereotypes and furthers the stigma around people with mental health issues.

Domestic violence is something that happens in poor, uneducated families.

People of all backgrounds – race, class, caste, gender, sexuality, religion, age – can be both victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. People of privilege have greater access to networks and resources and therefore more able to protect their privacy as opposed to men and women from low-income homes who access community resources, public agencies, government hospitals, police departments etc and appear more visible.

Many women make false claims about domestic violence.

False claims of domestic violence are extremely rare. In fact, most survivors hesitate to come forward and report domestic violence for fear of further victimization.

The National Family Health Survey (2015-16) reports that:

  • 46% of women in Tamil Nadu reported domestic violence.
  • Only 14% of women experiencing physical or sexual violence has ever sought help.
  • Only 1% of these women reached out to the police.
  • 76% of women have never asked for or received any support for the violence they have experienced.
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