What is / isn't family violence?
Family violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over another person. It is not an isolated argument between family members or strangers. It is not normal, reasonable discipline of children.
Abuse comes in many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, and financial.
Physical Abuse: when anyone you know uses violent force against you to make you behave a certain way. This can include punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting, burning, or any action that causes you pain and injury. They are not accidents. If you're physically abused, you may have cuts, bruises or marks on your body.
Sexual Abuse: when anyone you know forces or coerces you into sexual behavior you don't want to do, such as rape or watching/making pornography. It doesn't have to be physical either: calling you inappropriate names, like "Sexy" and "Hottie" or talking about sexual topics which make you feel uncomfortable, is also abusive. If you are sexually abused, you may be scared, confused, feel "dirty" and wash excessively.
Psychological/Verbal Abuse: when anyone you know puts you down, calls you names or accuses you of things you haven't done to make you feel worthless. Abusers may also deny they have hurt you and make you question your sanity (i.e.: "I didn't hit you that hard" or "If you hadn't done X, I wouldn't have had to hurt you"), or isolate you from family and friends. If you are psychologically or verbally abused, you may feel all alone and that no one cares about you.
Financial Abuse: when anyone you know uses finances as a way to control you, such as tracking and questioning all your purchases, not letting you spend money without their permission, giving you an "allowance" based on their judgments of your behavior, harassing you at your work/forcing you to lose your job so that you are financially dependent on them, etc. If you are financially abused, you may not have the funds to escape an abusive relationship.
Is there help available?
Yes. There are state and national resources available to victims who need help realizing what is happening to them, who are trying to leave their abuser and/or who are safe and attempting to heal from their abuse. You can access the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's State Coalitions webpage to find resources near you.