Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. It isn’t a personal matter or even a family issue, but an alarming and pervasive problem that impacts victims, abusers, family members, friends and entire communities. Despite this fact, most cases of domestic violence are never reported. The hidden nature of the crime makes it difficult for others to recognize, and instances of domestic violence are often excused, denied, concealed, or overlooked by the victim.

Domestic Violence Defined

Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of abusive behavior committed by an intimate partner with the intent to dominate and control a victim. Domestic violence can occur in many forms including physical, sexual, emotional, psychological and economic abuse. Acts of domestic violence may be either overt (e.g. punching) or covert/passive (e.g. mind games or neglect). These acts may differ in range and severity.

Statistics and Facts

Although anyone can be a victim of domestic violence, women are disproportionally affected:

Adults are not the only victims:

Why Do Abuse Victims Stay?

One of the most perplexing questions surrounding domestic violence is why a victim chooses to stay in an abusive relationship. People who have never experienced intimate partner violence may think it incomprehensible. However, there are many reasons a victim might stay put; reasons that are rooted in strong emotional and psychological ties that are not easily broken. Victims who have suffered long term physical and emotional abuse are often in the depths of despair and paralyzed with trauma. They may be too fearful, confused or impaired to make decisions.

Domestic violence rarely ends at the time of separation from the abuser; in fact, the most dangerous period for a victim is when he or she chooses to leave the abusive relationship. Some of the reasons victims choose to stay in toxic relationships include:

Safety Planning

If you are in an abusive relationship and need to escape a violent environment, consider developing your own personal safety plan. A safety plan may reduce your chance of injury or even save your life. If you need help, contact your local domestic violence advocate, who can assist you in developing a viable plan and obtaining the resources you need. Leaving a batterer is one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship; therefore, take extra precautionary measures when exercising a safety plan.

Tips for Using Technology

Computers, phones, and other devices can be monitored by a suspicious abuser, even if you delete information from a device. Even deleting your web browsing history or changing your behavior online may arouse suspicion. Also, your cell phone may have a GPS system that your abuser can use to track you.

Be cautious. If possible, only use devices that your abuser cannot access when you research domestic violence resources or contact an advocate. For example, use a public computer at a library or purchase a prepaid cell phone.

First Steps

Preparing to Leave

After Leaving an Abuser

Get Help

The California Victim Compensation Program (CalVCP) is available to assist eligible victims with crime-related expenses. Victims of domestic violence can apply for CalVCP assistance in four ways:

  • Contact a local county Victim Witness Assistance Center. A victim advocate at the center can help victims complete and submit an application as well as provide other assistance. Most victim witness centers are part of the county District Attorney’s office.
  • A list of California Victim Witness Assistance Centers can be found on CalVCP's Local Help pages
  • Call the CalVCP Help Line at (800) 777-9229
  • Download an application from CalVCP's How to Apply page
  • E-mail CalVCP at info@vcgcb.ca.gov

When submitting a completed application, include one or more of the following forms of documentation if you have it available:

  • Crime report
  • An affidavit from a caseworker

Other Resources

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-SAFE (7233). Help is available to callers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
The California Partnership to End Domestic Violence promotes the collective voice of a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals, working to eliminate all forms of domestic violence.

Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence
Asian & Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence (API Institute) is a national resource center on domestic violence, sexual violence, trafficking, and other forms of gender-based violence in Asian and Pacific Islander communities.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
CalVCP observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month every October in hopes of helping victims through their pain and moving forward in the fight to eradicate domestic violence from our world. CalVCP take steps to spread awareness, help survivors, and do everything possible to stop violence before it begins.

Federal Housing Choice Vouchers Program
The Housing Choice Vouchers Program is the federal government’s program for assisting very low-income participants with housing. The vouchers are administered locally by public housing agencies (PHA). The PHA pays a housing subsidy directly to the landlord on behalf of the participating family. The California Victim Compensation Program can reimburse a crime victim for expenses related to a deposit for voucher housing. For more information,contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at (800) 955-2232.

Local County Social Services Offices
Local county social services offices can put victims in touch with financial, medical, housing and other social service assistance. For a listing of county social service offices, visit their website.


[1] Understanding Intimate Partner Violence: Fact Sheet. (2012). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/ipv_factsheet2012-a.pdf

[2] The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS): 2010 Summary Report. (2011). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/pdf/NISVS_Report2010-a.pdf

[3] U.S. Census, July 2005.

[4] Costs of Intimate Partner Violence Against Women in the United States. (2003). Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/IPVBook-a.pdf

[5] California Victim Compensation Program Annual Report FY 2011/12. (2012). Sacramento, CA: California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board, California Victim Compensation Program. Retrieved from http://vcgcb.ca.gov/docs/stats/11-12/2011-2012LPAAnnualReportData_CrimesByCategory.pdf

[6] NISVS, 2010.

[7] Criminal Victimization, 2010. (2011). Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved from http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/pdf/cv10.pdf

[8] The California Women’s Health Survey (CWHS). (2009). The California Departments of Public Health, Health Care Services, Mental Health, Alcohol and Drug Programs and Social Services and private partners the California Medical Review, Inc. (aka Lumetra) and the Public Health Institute. Retrieved from http://www.dhcs.ca.gov/dataandstats/reports/Pages/DataPoints2009.aspx

[9] CWHS, 2009.

[10] CWHS, 2009.

[11] Children’s Exposure to Violence: A Comprehensive National Survey. (2009). Bulletin. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/227744.pdf

[12] CWHS, 2009.