Types of Abuse

Nobody should have to deal with abuse. For Deaf survivors of abuse, DAWN serves as a support system and as an advocate—and we focus on the three types that most frequently and dramatically impact your community: domestic violence, sexual violence, and stalking.

Power and control is the root of the problem. Domestic violence, sexual violence and stalking are not about the abuser’s stress, personal or professional crisis, drug use or anger management issues; it is about that person (whether it is your partner or someone you’ve never met) wanting to maintain power and control over another person.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence (DV) is a pattern of behaviors that involves abuse by one partner against another in an intimate relationship such as marriage, cohabitation or dating, or within the family. DV is enabled by societal and cultural attitudes, institutions and laws that do not treat these behaviors as wrong.

Representative behaviors:

    Physical aggression or assault (e.g., hitting, kicking, biting, restraint, throwing of objects, etc.) or threats thereof

    Verbal and emotional violence (e.g., name calling, criticizing, yelling, ignoring, isolation, humiliation, etc.)

    Destruction of property

    Violence toward family members or other significant people

Sexual Violence

Sexual violence (SV) is not “just sex that got out of hand”—and, like domestic violence, it’s neverthe survivor’s fault.

SV and healthy sexual activity are two very different things. Sexual violence is a learned behavior, not instinct. And it’s all too common: one in every two Deaf women will experience abuse in her lifetime.

Representative behaviors:

A person is forced to participate in any sexual act against his/her will (without consent), including

  • Forced penetration of any kind
  • Molestation
  • Grabbing/touching
  • Brushing against another’s body

A person’s personal space and/or safety is violated, as exemplified by:

  • Obscene emails, phone calls, text messages, etc.
  • Sexual jokes
  • Catcalls
  • Looks/leers
  • Flashing
  • Unwanted exposure to pornography or instances of women and children being portrayed as sexual objects in the media

Keep in mind: You do not have to be touched to experience sexual violence.


Like DV and SV, stalking is a crime. It is serious and violent, and it often escalates over time. The survivor may feel unsafe, nervous, confused, isolated, stressed, depressed and/or unsafe. But the survivor is never to blame for a stalker’s behavior.

Most stalking involves a man stalking a woman; however, men stalk men, women stalk women, and women stalk men as well. Each year in the United States, 1.4 million people are stalked. It can be someone you know or someone you have never even met.

Representative behaviors:

  • Following you and showing up wherever you are
  • Driving by your home, school or office
  • Repeatedly calling you (and hanging up)
  • Sending unwanted gifts, letters, cards and/or e-mails
  • Using technology, such as hidden cameras or GPS systems, to track you
  • Threatening to injure you or your family, friends and/or pets
  • Finding out about you using public records and online services, hiring private investigators, going through your garbage or contacting family, friends, neighbors and/or co-workers
  • Damaging your home, car or other property