Domestic Abuse

Relationships have ups and downs, but certain types of behavior in any relationship are unacceptable and abusive. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, yet the epidemic is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This rings especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet can leave deep and lasting scars.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. (YWCA of Nashville and Middle Tennessee)

Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, don’t hesitate to reach out. There is help available.

Domestic violence does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused— especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. We all deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make us feel helpless and alone. The first step to breaking free is recognizing that a situation is abusive. Once the reality of the abusive situation is acknowledged, you can get the help you need.



The Statistics

One in four women in the U.S. experiences intimate partner violence in her lifetime.

The Metro Nashville Police Department received 26,236 reports of domestic violence in 2013 - or one report every 20 minutes.

The average rate of substantiated child abuse is 3.6 children per 1,000 in Middle Tennessee, compared to 5.6 children per 1,000 statewide.

Williamson County had the lowest rate (1.4%) in Middle Tennessee; Davidson County had the highest (7.7%).

The Tennessee Office of Criminal Justice Program funds 35 domestic violence shelters across the state – two in Nashville, five in counties adjoining Davidson, and eight serving the remaining 36 Middle Tennessee counties. The sixteen mid-state shelters have a total of 275 beds available.

As we struggle through difficult economic times, local nonprofits predict the need for domestic violence services will increase. Research finds couples who report extensive financial strain have a rate of violence more than 3 times that of couples with low levels of financial strain (National Institute of Justice September 2004).

It is difficult to say how many older Americans are abused, neglected or exploited, because the abuse often occurs at home and remains hidden. Findings from a recent National Elder Abuse Incidence Study suggested that more than 500,000 Americans aged 60 and over were victims of domestic abuse.


How You Can Help

  • Support victim assistance programs. Information on these organizations can be found at GivingMatters by typing in the keyword “abuse.”
  • Support organizations providing transportation to court, counseling and support services for victims of abuse and neglect.
  • Encourage employer-based violence and abuse prevention training programs.
  • Aid victims of elder abuse by funding transportation, food, visits, and phone calls.
  • Sponsor child care for people who need counseling or who want to attend prevention classes, or volunteer with an organization that provides child care.
  • Support efforts to recruit, hire and train multilingual prevention and treatment professionals.
  • Provide financial assistance to domestic violence shelters and counseling programs that are in danger of closing due to funding cuts.
  • Contact The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for assistance with how to give.



TENNESSEE: Domestic Violence Resources

Prevent Child Abuse Tennessee

Nashville YWCA

Sexual Assault Center

Metro Police Domestic Violence Unit

Family and Children's Services

Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Renewal House

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

United Way of Metropolitan Nashville

Thistle Farms

Vanderbilt Women's Center

The Help Guide

Facts and figures from the National Child Welfare Information Gateway