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What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence (also referred to as intimate partner violence (IPV), dating abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

Abuse is more than physical violence. Ending the harm and stigma of domestic violence requires a nuanced understanding of the behaviors that define it, as well as examples of healthy relationships.

Different forms of domestic abuse include physical, emotional, financial, sexual,
spiritual, and technological abuse. People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, education level, or economic status can be a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence.

Adapted from The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

The more that we choose not to talk about domestic violence, the more we shy away from the issue, the more we lose.


-Russel Wilson

National Statistics

  • 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.1
  • 1 in 10 women has been raped by an intimate partner.1
  • 1 in 15 children is exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence. 2
  • In 2015, 928 women were killed by male intimate partners. Most were killed with firearms.3
  • In a study of male same-sex relationships, only 26% of men called the police for assistance after experiencing near-lethal violence.4
  • In 2012, fewer than 5% of LGBTQ survivors of intimate partner violence sought orders of protection.4

State of California

According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • 34.9 % of California women and 31.1% of California men experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.
  • In 2018, there were 166,890 domestic violence-related calls to law enforcement; many other incidents went unreported. 46% of reported incidents involving weapons.
  • In 2018, domestic violence homicides comprised 10.7% of all California homicides. Domestic violence homicides in California increased by 22.2% over 2017.


In 2019, local law enforcement responded to 502 domestic violence-related calls for assistance.*

REACH statistics

In 2020, REACH provided victim services to 223 men, women, and children impacted by domestic violence.

1.CDC.Gov. National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. 2010. 

2. U.S. Department of Justice. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. 2011 

3. Violence Policy Center (2017)

4. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

    • Isolation from friends and family
    • Unexplained marks or injuries
    • Partner insults victim in front of others
    • Victim makes excuses for partners behaviors
    • Partner is possessive and jealous of others
    • Victim appears depressed or anxious
    • Victim is worried about angering their partner

How does abuse affect victims?

Victims of domestic violence may:

  • Want the abuse to end, but not the relationship
  • Deny or minimize the abuse or make excuses for the abuser
  • Distance themselves from family or friends
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Feel like they have nowhere to go or no ability to get away
  • Have pets or other animals they don’t want to leave
  • Be distrustful of local law enforcement, courts, or other systems if the abuse is revealed
  • Fear, judgment, stigmatization, or embarrassment if their abuse is revealed.
  • Have cultural, religious, or other beliefs that reinforce them staying in the relationship.
  • Have children in common with their abuser and fear for their safety if the victim leaves.

What Are the “Warning Signs” of an Abuser?

According to NCADV, red flags and warning signs of an abuser include but are not limited to:

  • Extreme jealousy, possessiveness, and/or unpredictability
  • A bad temper and/or extremely controlling behavior
  • Embarrassing, humiliating, or demeaning the victim either privately or publicly
  • Forced sex or disregard of their partner’s unwillingness to have sex
  • Sabotage of birth control methods or refusal to honor agreed-upon methods
  • Blaming the victim for anything bad that happens
  • Harassment, sabotage or obstruction of the victim’s ability to work or attend school
  • Controls all the finances
  • Abuse of other family members, children or pets
  • Control of what the victim wears, how they act, or accusations of the victim flirting or having an

Adapted from NCADV

Barriers to Leaving and/or Reporting

Abusive relationships are extremely complex situations, and it takes a lot of courage to leave.

Below are some barriers to leaving or reporting an abusive relationship:

  • Fear of their partner’s actions or concern over their own ability to be independent.
  • Some may not recognize that their partner’s behaviors are unhealthy or abusive.
  • Some victims may feel embarrassed or blame themselves for the abuse. It is common for abusers to minimize their own actions and shift blame to their partner.
  • A survivor may be intimidated into staying in a relationship by verbal or physical threats.
  • Diminished self-esteem and self-determination as the result of ongoing abuse.
  • Lack of resources, including financial, housing, social supports, immigration status and/or language barriers.
  • Traditional customs or beliefs may influence someone’s decision to stay.
  • Many survivors may feel guilty or responsible for disrupting the family unit if they have children or dependents.
  • Experiencing abuse and feeling genuine care for a partner who is causing harm are not mutually exclusive.

Barriers specific to the LGBTQ community:

  • The dangers associated with “outing” oneself and risking rejection from family, friends, and society.
  • Societal beliefs that domestic violence does not occur in LGBTQ relationships.
  • Potential homophobia from service providers, or from non-LGBTQ victims.
  • Lack of appropriate service provider training regarding LGBTQ.
  • A fear that reporting among the LGBTQ population will take away from progress toward equality or fuel anti-LGBTQ bias.
  • Domestic violence shelters are typically female only, and transgender individuals may not be allowed entrance.
  • The lack of LGBTQ-friendly assistance resources.

Please click here to create an interactive safety plan with


Domestic violence is a private family matter.



Domestic Violence is everyone’s business. Keeping domestic violence secret helps no one, has been shown to harm children, incurs substantial costs to society, and serves to perpetuate abuse through learned patterns of behavior.


Most of the time, domestic violence is not really that serious.


Domestic violence is an illegal act in the U.S. and is considered a crime with serious repercussions. Serious and long-lasting physical, emotional and spiritual harm often occurs. Each and every act of domestic violence needs to be taken seriously. 


Victims provoke their partners’ violence.


No matter the problems in the relationship, the use of violence is never justifiable or acceptable.  There is NO EXCUSE for domestic violence.


Domestic violence is an impulse control or anger management problem.


Abusers act deliberately and with forethought. Abusers choose whom to abuse. For example, an abuser will selectively batter their partner but not their boss.


Domestic violence is bad but it happens else elsewhere.  It doesn’t happen in my community, my neighborhood, my culture, my religion, or my congregation.


Domestic violence happens to people of every educational and socioeconomic level. Domestic violence happens in all races, religions, and age groups.  Domestic violence occurs in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships.


It is easy for a victim to leave their abuser, so if he/she doesn’t leave, it means he/she likes the abuse or is exaggerating how bad it is.


Fear, lack of safe options, and the inability to survive economically prevent many victims from leaving abusive relationships. The most dangerous time for a victim is when he/she attempts to leave the relationship, or when the abuser discovers plans to leave.


Domestic violence can occur in older women, but it is quite rare. .


Approximately half of all elder abuse in women is thought to be domestic violence “grown old”. Older battered women are less likely to seek and receive help.


Domestic and intimate partner violence is limited only to heterosexual couples.


Domestic violence affects individuals of all sexual orientations and genders. Within the LGBTQ community, intimate partner violence occurs at a rate equal to or even higher than that of the heterosexual community.

Source: Arizona Coalition To End Sexual and Domestic Violence. 2021.