Knowledge Center - The Network
How to Make an Impact

Knowledge Center

Domestic Violence Education

The Network is a hub for information and resources about domestic violence in Cook County and beyond.

The Knowledge Center contains informational resources, free media downloads, policy positions, and public statements.

Learn More

About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of intentional physical and psychological abuse, threats, intimidation, isolation or economic coercion used by one person to exert power and control over another person in the context of a dating, family or household relationship. 

Domestic violence is maintained by societal and cultural attitudes, institutions and laws which are not consistent in naming this violence as wrong.

Types of Abuse

In a domestic violence relationship, the person causing the abuse tries to maintain power and control over the other person by:


  • Coercion and Threats: Making or carrying out threats to hurt them, threatening to leave them, threatening suicide, threatening to call child welfare, making them drop charges, forcing them to do illegal things.
  • Intimidation: Making them afraid by using looks, gestures, throwing items, holding weapons, breaking property.
  • Emotional Abuse: Putting them down, making them feel bad about themselves, calling them names, calling them crazy, playing mind games, humiliation, and embarrassment. 
  • Isolation: Controlling where they go or whom they talk to. Limiting their social life. Using jealousy to control them. 
  • Economic Abuse: Preventing them from getting a job, making them beg for money, not letting them have access to family income, controlling access to insurance and medical benefits, threatening homelessness.
  • Using Children: Making them feel guilty about being a bad parent, using children to relay messages, using child visitation to harass them. 
  • Minimizing, Denying, and Blaming: Making light of abuse, not taking concerns seriously. Denying abuse ever happened, saying it is their fault the abuse happened. 
  • Using Social Privilege: Holding them to strict gender roles, using race or immigration status against them, threatening to “out” them as LGBTQ+.
Recognizing Domestic Violence

There are some signs you can look out for if you suspect a friend, coworker, or loved one is being abused. These include:


  • Unexplained injuries, bruising, or other pains
  • Unseasonable clothing (like wearing long sleeves in the summer)
  • Withdrawn and not as social as they used to be
  • Acting fearful around their partner, or being quiet or letting their partner answer questions and speak for them
  • Symptoms of depression and trauma, like exhaustion, confusion, isolation, and panic
  • Blames themselves for their partner’s anger or dissatisfaction
  • Minimizes or denies arguing, fighting, or abuse within the household
  • Stops taking care of their own mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual needs
  • Frequent visits to the doctor or hospital for unexplained or odd reasons
  • Missing work or social obligations more often than usual
How to Help

There are things you can do to help someone who may be experiencing domestic violence. The most important things to do are to:

  • Listen: You may be the first person your friend, coworker, or loved one has told about the abuse. Validate their feelings by letting them know you believe them, you’re sorry this happened to them, and you are here to listen.
  • Support: Let them know you are a safe person to talk to. Do this by being supportive and not asking questions that could place the blame on them. Avoid statements like: Why did you stay? What did you do to make them mad? What were you wearing?
  • Connect: Connect them to resources that can help, and let them decide who to contact, if they want to contact anyone, and when to do it. Taking the first (or second, or third) step to get help is hard, and can often put victims of abuse at risk. A great resource is the Illinois Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline, available 24/7, 365 days a year.
  • The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence established an Emergency Crisis Fund for survivors of Domestic Violence to address critical gaps in the safety net for survivors. The Emergency Fund is currently out of funding, though we are constantly fundraising and hope to make it available soon.

    For inquiries related to the Emergency Fund, email

Where to go for help

If you or someone you know needs help, call the Illinois Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-877-863-6338. Trained Victim Information and Referral Advocates are available 24/7, 365 days a year to answer your questions by phone. You can also text the Hotline if you need help.

The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence established an Emergency Crisis Fund for survivors of Domestic Violence to address critical gaps in the safety net for survivors. For inquiries related to the Emergency Crisis Fund, email



Increasing Awareness

Data and Policy Reports

Subscribe to Our Newsletters

Sign up to receive policy updates, information about trainings,
and other news from The Network.