Family Violence

What is family violence?

Family violence is violence which occurs within families.  Like sexual violence or relationship violence, family violence can take many different forms. Each person's experience is different.  It may occur between spouses/parents, may be targeted at children, or may occur between children. Violence can take many forms including, but not limited to physical violence, sexual violence, verbal abuse, and/or emotional abuse. 

Physical Abuse

Includes any behavior that causes or threatens to cause bodily harm.  Some examples are hitting, slapping, grabbing, breaking things, or threatening to do any of the above.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual violence may include any forced sexual contact including, but not be limited to, penetration including rape or incest, or any sexual touching or fondling.

Verbal Abuse

Using words to injure another person. This includes name calling, insults, threats of physical and/or sexual violence, threats of self-harm and/or suicide, humiliation, intimidation, criticism of one’s body and exaggerated criticism for mistakes.

Emotional Abuse

Includes actions that systematically destroy a person’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth.  Emotional abuse may include ignoring feelings, belittling, or withholding love, approval, basic needs such as food or using the bathroom, and/or affection.

If you feel as though you have experienced family violence but what you experienced does not fit into any of the definitions provided, it does not mean that your experience is invalid.

Secondary Survivors of Family Violence

Secondary survivors may be children in a family where there is abuse happening between parents.  Even if the violence is not directed at the kid, it can be very damamging.  Secondary survivors may also be one child in a family who witnesses their siblings being abused.


The effects of family violence on secondary survivors can varry.  For example, people who witness violence within their families may feel powerless to stop it.  Children may feel responsible for stoping violence aimed at a sibling or at one of their parents.  When they cannot protect that person from violence it can lead to feelings of incompetancy, or helplessness.  Sometimes secondary survivors may attempt to absorb the abuse aimed at the other person. 


If you have ever experienced or wtinessed anything mentioned above or know someone who has, it may be affecting you.  Below are some resources which may be helpful.

RISE Support & Services

RISE Advocate List


RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network)