Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence, is a pattern of controlling and coercive behaviors that can include physical, sexual, psychological and economic abuse. Sometimes the abuse is physical and visible, and sometimes it isn’t. Domestic violence can include any of the following types of behavior, often occurring together:
- Psychological/emotional violence which includes, but is not limited to, humiliating the victim, controlling what the victim can and cannot do, withholding information from the victim, deliberately doing something to make the victim feel diminished or embarrassed, isolating the victim from friends and family and denying the victim access to money or other basic resources.
- Physical violence is the intentional use of physical force with the potential for causing death, disability, injury, or harm. Physical violence includes, but is not limited to: scratching, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, biting, choking, shaking, slapping, punching, burning, use of a weapons, and use of restraints or one's body, size, or strength against another person.
- Sexual violence is forcing a partner to take part in a sexual act when the partner does not or is not able to give consent.
- Stalking refers to harassing or threatening behavior that an individual engages in repeatedly, such as following a person, appearing at a person's home or place of business, making harassing phone calls, leaving written messages or objects or vandalizing a person’s property.
- Threats of physical or sexual violence which includes the use of words, gestures, weapons or other means to communicate the intent to cause death, disability, injury, or physical harm.
Sexual violence is a sexual act committed against someone without that person’s freely given consent. There are many types of sexual violence, including rape, incest, childhood sexual abuse, date/acquaintance rape, intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, sex trafficking and bias-motivated crimes against victims who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning.
There are risk factors associated with domestic and sexual violence. These risk factors cannot predict the violence, but understanding them can help identify opportunities for prevention. Learn more about domestic violence risk factors and sexual violence risk factors and the ways that they are connected.
Health Department initiatives
Vermont Department of Health efforts related to domestic and sexual violence prevention are rooted in the social ecological model. This model supports programs, activities and campaigns that address individual risk and protective factors, and works to change the norms, beliefs and systems that allow sexual and domestic violence to happen.
In 1994, Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act. This landmark legislation established the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program strengthens sexual violence prevention efforts in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and six U.S. territories. In Vermont, funding for this community-level work is provided to the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Umbrella, Inc. and the Sexual Assault Crisis Team. In addition, a statewide advisory team was formed to provide input on the development of Vermont’s Plan to Address Sexual Violence through Primary Prevention.
The Vermont Department of Health supports the work of the Consent Campaign, an innovative, statewide initiative launched in 2011 by the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. The campaign supports consent education in middle and high schools throughout Vermont. For more information about the Consent Campaign, visit the Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, or call 802-223-1302.
The Vermont Department of Health works with the Department for Children and Families and the Vermont Network to provide training for home visitors, domestic violence advocates, family support workers and Agency of Human Services staff across Vermont in Healthy Moms, Happy Babies a nationally recognized curriculum created by Futures Without Violence. The curriculum includes strategies to support women and children living in homes with domestic violence. Learn more about home visiting services offered in Vermont.
Vermont Department of Health operates an internal Domestic Violence Advisory Group to increase the Health Department's capacity to prevent and respond to domestic violence in our workplace, in public health settings and in Vermont communities. In addition, the department is a part of the Vermont Agency of Human Services Domestic Violence Steering Committee, and is a member of Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force and the Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission.
- The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Pride Center’s SafeSpace program
- Association of Africans Living in Vermont
- Vermont Teacher’s Guide: Responding to Domestic and Sexual Violence
- Vermont's Sexual Violence Prevention Technical Assistance Resource Guide
- Vermont Home Visitation Guide on Screening, Assessement and Response to Domestic Violence