Domestic Violence

The Truth about Domestic Violence

Is domestic violence an anger problem? Many people mistakenly believe that domestic violence is an anger management issue. The truth is, however, that a majority of us experience anger without ever becoming emotionally or physically abusive. This is because domestic violence has far less to do about anger than it does the abuser’s need for power and control. Abusers typically suffer from low self-esteem, have trouble expressing their emotions, feel jealous and afraid that their partner will leave, and want to feel powerful over their partner. In addition to problems with power and control, many domestic violence offenders also abuse alcohol and other drugs, which further contributes to their violent outbursts. Violence often is triggered over a small argument. The abuser is reacting to a need for control, rather than anger over a trivial problem.

Domestic violence has many faces and the victims may be male or female, children or adults, or even elders. Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life, including rich and poor, young and old, and persons from varying ethnic backgrounds and cultures. A common theme among perpetrators of domestic violence is their attempt to exert power and control in a variety of ways:

Emotional Abuse

  • Insulting the person through harsh, verbal attacks that damage self-esteem
  • Humiliating the person in the presence of family and friends by picking fights, criticizing or shaming them
  • Making false accusations of infidelity
  • Threatening to harm the person or his/her possessions, pets or loved ones

Physical Abuse

  • Pushing, shoving, hitting, slapping, kicking, punching
  • Using physical aggression/intimidation by “getting in your face,” punching walls or breaking things
  • Physically restraining someone to prevent the person from leaving
  • Sexually abusing someone, molesting or raping

Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming

  • Making light of the abuse and not taking concerns about it seriously
  • Shifting responsibility for abusive behavior to the other person
  • Blaming the victim (instead of accepting responsibility) for abusive behavior
  • Accusing someone of “causing the abuse” by making the person angry
  • Pretending as if the abuse did not happen, or the person is imagining it


  • Controlling a person’s behavior and activities, including what the person does, who the person sees and talks to, and where the person goes
  • Limiting the person’s outside involvement
  • Using jealousy to justify isolation


  • Using threatening facial expressions, actions or gestures to gain compliance
  • Destroying the person’s property or possessions
  • Harming pets
  • Displaying weapons

Coercion and Threats

  • Threatening to harm the person
  • Threatening to leave, divorce, or commit suicide
  • Pressuring the person to drop legal charges
  • Making the person participate in illegal acts, or threatening to accuse the person of such acts to authorities

Economic Abuse

  • Withholding money to keep the person isolated and dependent
  • Subjecting the person to the humiliation of having to ask/beg for money
  • Not allowing the person to know about or have access to family income
  • Treating the person like a servant
  • Preventing the person from getting or keeping a job

Manipulation by Using the Kids

  • Brainwashing the kids against the person, or using them to relay messages
  • Using child visitation as an excuse to harass the person
  • Threatening to take the children away or harm them


  • Making repeated unwanted contact that causes fear
  • Engaging in telephone harassment through unwanted phone calls/text messages
  • Cyberstalking by monitoring emails and personal information
  • Following someone to check on the person’s whereabouts or activities
  • Receiving unwanted gifts, invitations, visits or other attention

Help is available. Call the Bricklayers’ Member Assistance Program (MAP) to confidentially speak to a licensed mental health professional. Call toll-free at 1-888-880-8222