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Domestic Violence

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If you or a loved one is experiencing an emergency, please call 911. For additional help and information, visit our Domestic Violence Resources and Services web page for a list of local providers, including 24-hour hotline information. 

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is abusive behavior used to gain or maintain power and control over a current or former partner, an immediate family member, or another relative. It can include emotional abuse, physical assault, stalking, sexual abuse, battery, isolation, financial abuse, and threats. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner, and nearly half of all men and women have experienced psychological aggression from a partner. 


Strategic Alliance to Strengthen Family Violence Prevention Services Launches

In December 2018, the City of Tacoma and Pierce County reinforced their commitment to family violence prevention and domestic violence services by launching the 2019 Strategic Alliance to Strengthen Family Violence Prevention Services. Learn more about the services provided with this alliance.


How big is the Problem?

According to the 2018 Domestic Violence Needs Assessment, “Since 2005, the rate of domestic violence offenses reported to the Tacoma Police Department has been an average of 200 percent higher than the average rate for the state. While the recent data shows the DV rate has declined in Tacoma, these trends should be viewed with caution. Given that DV cases continue to be under-reported, and that measures such as these show some variation in the short term, the data would need to show a few more years of steady decline to conclude that the rate is truly declining.”

Visit the Domestic Violence Resources and Services page to see the resources in our community. 


Who is Affected by Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is a global issue with significant costs to individuals, health systems, and society. It can affect anyone regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, race, class, religion, or any other distinction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 10 million men and women are abused by an intimate partner every year. The harm doesn’t stop there, either – about 18% of U.S. children of all ages have witnessed domestic violence firsthand, and those children are at higher risk for suicide, drug abuse, and alcoholism.


The Department of Justice estimates that about half of all cases of domestic violence are never reported to anyone. People may feel ashamed about  what has happened to them, or they may not be sure that what they are experiencing is really domestic violence. They may also be afraid of retaliation. Sometimes, misunderstandings about what domestic violence actually is can be part of the problem.


Here are some common myths about domestic violence:

  • Men can’t be victims.
  • Domestic violence only happens between romantic partners.
  • Drugs or alcohol are usually to blame for abuse.
  • Victims are “asking for it” somehow.
  • Domestic violence only happens in heterosexual relationships.
  • Only physical abuse counts as domestic violence.

The above assumptions are false. The most important thing to remember is that anyone can be a victim, and all victims deserve support. 


What can you do?

Understanding domestic violence is the first step to protecting yourself and your loved ones. Educate yourself and others, foster healthy relationships, and talk openly about this issue.


Stigma and shame can be significant barriers to seeking help in an abusive situation. Remember that everyone deserves to be respected, loved, and safe in their relationships.


Even when you know something is wrong, intervention can be difficult. It is not easy to leave an abusive relationship. Oftentimes the situation can be dangerous. Be prepared with the knowledge of where you or your loved one can turn for help if you need it. If domestic violence is affecting someone you love, be patient and respectful as they move through this process. 


Visit our Domestic Violence Resources and Services web page to find out where you can turn for education, support, crisis services, and more.


Know the Facts

  • Assaulting, threatening or stalking an intimate partner (past or present) is a crime in the State of Washington (RCW 10.99.020).
  • Intimate partner violence is the most prevalent form of domestic violence – 1 in 3 women will be victims of intimate partner violence in their lifetimes (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).
  • About 60% of violence by immediate family members or relatives is committed against females, and about 40% against males (Bureau of Justice Statistics).
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in delinquent behavior or teenage prostitution, or commit sexual assault crimes (Childhood Domestic Violence Association). 
  • Male children who witness domestic violence are two times more likely to abuse their own partners or children in adulthood (Institute for Children and Poverty).
  • Domestic violence is closely linked to homelessness. In Pierce County, about 28% of homeless individuals have experienced domestic violence (2016 City of Tacoma Community Needs Assessment).