DV Quick Reference

Photo by Efe Kurnaz on Unsplash

By Lani K.

This is a quick reference guide shared with leaders in the faith community that was developed by the Christian Coalition for Safe Families’ founder. If you’re trying to share what domestic violence looks like and how serious it is, this is the crash course.


DEFINED as a pattern of hurtful behavior that one partner in an intimate relationship uses to control the other. EXPRESSED in the form of psychological, emotional, social, environmental, financial, physical, or sexual hostility. 


  • Insults, criticism, name calling
  • Humiliates victim and degrades her choices
  • Controls money/finances and makes spouse economically dependent
  • Withholds permission for needed medical treatment
  • Isolates family
  • Limits family’s friendships using “acceptable-looking” reasons
  • Family members need abuser’s permission to attend functions
  • Intrusive and domineering in spouse’s conversations or interactions
  • Checks odometer, cell phone, etc. to monitor spouse’s activity
  • Resentful of children
  • Intimidation, threats and harm of spouse, children, pets
  • Destroys/damages personal property or home
  • Stalking


  • Person can be either very high functioning (important position at work) or very low functioning (at home, unable to complete simplest tasks)
  • Fuzzy-minded
  • Frightened, “walking on eggshells”
  • Change in personality
  • Indecisive and doubts herself
  • Accepts blame for things that are not her fault
  • Concerned about “checking-in” with husband
  • Absences, missed appointments; declines social invitations
  • Isolated from family, friends, community
  • Unexplained bruising
  • Wears clothing to hide injuries on arms/legs (long sleeves/pants in summer)


The greater the number of indicators, the greater the likelihood of a life-threatening assault. Lethality increases 75 percent when the victim leaves, or threatens to leave, the abuser.

  • Isolated from relationships to the exclusion of only his spouse
  • Upset by family members divulging details of home situation
  • Upset over “interference” from any outsider, who cares and inquires about family dynamics
  • Stressors of abuser increase (health issues, loss of employment or relationships)
  • High level of perceived loss of power or control
  • Cruelty to family pet
  • History of calls to police
  • Restraining or non-contact court orders
  • Breaking into the spouse’s home (if couple is separated)
  • Drug and/or alcohol abuse
  • Owns weapons and has used, or threatened to use, weapons against partner, children or self
  • History of arson or threats of arson
  • Severely depressed, has no hope
  • Disregards, or is no longer constrained by, legal or social consequences
  • Fantasies of homicide or suicide (the abuser is developing a plan)
  • Believes he is about to lose his spouse or the children
  • Stalking (can look benign, i.e. showing up at places where spouse is)
  • Hostage taking
  • Threatens to kill spouse, children, relatives or self
  • Makes statements, vows or threats expressing ownership of spouse or alluding to future situations (i.e. “she belongs to me, no matter what…, I will never let her go, she will never belong to another man”)


  • If you believe that the victim is in a life-threatening situation
  • If you believe it is unsafe for the victim to return home

©2020 Christian Coalition for Safe Families

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