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Family and Relationships

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Home Page > Family and Relationships > Domestic Violence

Checklist for Victims of Domestic Violence


Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. It also includes emotional and sexual abuse.

The following are some examples of common forms of domestic violence, but this is by no means a complete list. Use this information to help document the abuse for legal purposes, such as for restraining orders or divorce, or to remind you of the realities of your relationship with your abuser in order to help you assess your safety.

Physical Abuse

Has your abuser ever:

  • Spit at you?
  • Thrown things at you?
  • Pulled your hair?
  • Bitten or scratched you?
  • Burned you?
  • Cut you?
  • Pushed, shoved, or grabbed you?
  • Kicked or thrown you down?
  • Slapped you with an open hand?
  • Punched you with a closed fist?
  • Tried to choke/strangle you?
  • Assaulted you with a weapon?
  • Beaten you while you were pregnant?
  • Been violent toward your children?
  • Physically abused family pets?

Have you ever sought medical treatment for injuries caused by your abuser during any of these incidents?

Has the physical violence gotten worse or more frequent in the past year?

Sexual Abuse

Has your abuser ever:

  • Forced you to have sex when you did not want to?
  • Forced you to perform unwanted sexual acts, or to have sex with other people, or to use objects?
  • Forced you to have sex after abusing you physically or emotionally?

Has the abuse gotten worse or become more frequent in the past year?


Has your abuser ever:

  • Threatened to hurt you?
  • Threatened to kill you?
  • Threatened to hurt or kill a member of your family?
  • Threatened to hurt or kill a family pet?
  • Driven recklessly when you were in the car, knowing that it scared you?
  • Threatened to flee with the children?
  • Threatened to commit suicide, or made a suicide attempt?

Has your abuser ever been treated for a mental health condition?

Have the threats gotten worse or more frequent in the past year?

Other Abusive Behavior

Has your abuser ever:

  • Threatened you to prevent you from leaving?
  • Physically kept you from leaving by doing such things as blocking a doorway, taking your car keys, disabling your ar?
  • Locked you in a room?
  • Forced you to go anywhere against your will?
  • Purposely or repeatedly followed or stalked you by doing things such as staking out your home or place of employment?
  • Come to your home uninvited, or after being told not to?
  • Broken into your home with the intention of assaulting you or stealing from you?
  • Purposely or recklessly damaged your property or possessions by doing such things as punching holes in the walls, ripping up personal journals, tearing your clothing?
  • Harassed you by purposely and repeatedly annoying or alarming you by making hang-up calls, calling your home or place of employment, or deliberately preventing you from sleeping?
  • Stopped you for calling for help by taking or disabling a phone?

Emotional Abuse

Has your abuser ever:

  • Called you humiliating or demeaning names?
  • Treated you like a household servant?
  • Withheld money, the checkbook, credit cards?
  • Tried to control your daily activities, such as where you go, what you do, who your friends are?
  • Isolated you from family and friends?

Is your abuser especially possessive or jealous? (For example, saying things such as, “If I can’t have you, no one can.”)

Has the abuse gotten worse or become more frequent in the past year?

Substance Abuse

  • How often does your abuser drink alcohol? Daily? Weekly? Once a month or less?
  • Does your abuser’s alcohol use affect your daily life?
  • Does your abuser ever abuse prescription drugs?
  • Does your abuser use illegal drugs?
  • Did any of the abusive incidents occur when your abuser was drunk or high?
  • Has the substance abuse worsened in the past year?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may need to get advice on how to deal with the problem. The LSNJ Domestic Violence Representation Project (DVRP) or LSNJ-LAW™, LSNJ’s statewide, toll-free legal hotline, 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), may be able to provide you with legal information.

This article originally appeared in the October 2008 issue of Looking Out for Your Legal Rights®.

This information last reviewed 11/2/11


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Low-income New Jerseyans can get free legal help by phone: call our toll-free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Outside of New Jersey, please call 732-572-9100 and ask to be transferred to the hotline.