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Domestic violence takes different forms

When domestic violence enters a relationship, the dynamics are forever changed. It can even affect the future relationships of any children exposed to it, as they may grow up to abuse their partners or accept abuse from them as normal.

All domestic violence is not physical, however. Below is a list of the five types of domestic violence that tears families apart.

-- Physical violence. This is the form that gets the most attention because it can turn life-threatening in a second. It includes everything from pinching and slapping to punching, stabbing and shooting the victim. Abusers can also withhold medication, food, water or health care. Some may force their victims to get impaired on drugs or alcohol to lower their resistance.

-- Sexual violence. Marital rape and all other forms of forced sexual activity fall into this category. It also includes forcing someone into prostitution or having non-consensual sex with others, withholding sex or criticizing his or her sexuality or desirability.

-- Psychological violence revolves around intimidation and threats to the victim or his or her children, pets and relatives. They may destroy personal property, stalk them, isolate them from family and friends, restrict their access to telephones and transportation and monitor their daily activities.

-- Emotional violence. Constantly belittling, manipulating and criticizing the victim and undermining their relationships with children and other family members all are examples of emotional violence.

-- Economic violence. This one often flies under the radar because there is usually no evidence others can see. It includes keeping the victim completely economically dependent on the abuser by having total control over all resources. This can even include the victim's own wages or benefits from public assistance or other sources. They can coerce their victims to commit welfare or food stamp fraud or run up thousands of dollars of bills in their name to decimate their credit rating.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you don't have to feel alone. A Massachusetts family law attorney is a good source of information about resources available to you and can petition the court for an order of protection on your behalf.

Source: Woodbridge Township Domestic Violence Response Team, "The 5 Forms of Domestic Violence," accessed May. 08, 2015

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