What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence is a repeat pattern of abusive behaviors that are used to gain or maintain power and control over a person or the relationship. It may also be referred to as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Domestic Violence (DV), or Dating Abuse (DA).

Abusive behaviors include any physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person or stop them from exiting the relationship.

Abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, ethnicity, socioeconomic background, or education level. It can happen to anyone.

Patterns of abuse can occur in any type of intimate relationship where at least one person can misuse power in the forms of attachment, trust, vulnerability, or access to resources (money, information, social capital) in the relationship.

That includes, but is not limited to, persons who are or were:

  • Dating or romantically involved
  • Married or share children
  • Sexually active
  • Close friends or confidents
  • Family members
  • Roommates or living together                                                       

What is the Prevalence of Domestic Violence?                                                    

  • On average, approximately 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will be affected by domestic violence in their life time.
  • In the United States alone, more than 3 women a day are murdered by their intimate partners and more than 10 million adult victims and 3-4 million children are affected each year.
  • As a social problem it costs the U.S. $5.8 billion each year in medical and mental healthcare.
  • Since 2016, New Jersey has lost an average of 40 residents to domestic violence homicides each year, representing only the “tip of the iceberg” of victim experiences.
  • Of the 63, 058 domestic violence offenses reported by police in 2020, 3,377 originated from Bergen County municipalities. Domestic violence is grossly underreported to police.

What Causes Domestic Violence?                           

Domestic violence is not a disagreement, an anger management issue, or a normal part of an intimate relationship.

Though domestic violence is complex issue influenced by many factors at the individual, interpersonal, community, and societal levels—we know that it has nothing to do with love and it is never the victim’s fault.

Domestic violence is a systematic pattern of abusive behavior with intent to gain and maintain power and control over another person. Any efforts by a victim to challenge abusive beliefs and behaviors are usually met by the abusive party making things worse and tightening their grip on the victim.

What are the Signs of Abuse and What Can I Do About it?

Would you like to speak to someone about the information above? Our counselors are available to speak 24/7 through our crisis hotline: 201-336-7575. See our Connect With Us tab for more options.

Victims of abuse are often isolated, disempowered, and worn down by their experiences of abuse and efforts to escape it. They are not alone and they need our support.

This is why it is important for our community to stand by, protect, and extend critical supports to victims of abuse. It is equally as important to hold persons perpetrating abuse accountable for their choices and any harm done to victims, families, and the larger community. See our Take Action tab for more information on what you can do to support survivors in our community.

Contact Us

Marisa Heluk


Division of Alternatives to Domestic Violence

One Bergen County Plaza  • 2nd Floor • Hackensack, NJ 07601-7076

Email: ADV@co.bergen.nj.us

24-hour Crisis Hotline: 201-336-7575 • Fax: 201-336-7555

Monday - Thursday: 9:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Friday: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.