Domestic violence includes any form of abuse within a household, including intimate partner violence and family abuse. It can affect anyone, regardless of gender or sexuality.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 9 men experience physical violence, sexual violence, or stalking by an intimate partner. It’s unclear whether this figure refers to both cisgender and transgender men.

A 2020 review found that, compared to people who are cisgender, transgender people were 1.7 times more likely to experience intimate partner violence of any kind.

Researchers noted that they did not find a significant difference in rates of intimate partner violence between people assigned female at birth or people assigned male at birth.

In other words, transgender men and transgender women experienced a similar rate of intimate partner violence.

It’s worth noting that domestic violence against men is often underreported, so these figures may be higher. Many men feel shame or embarrassment about their experience.

Misconceptions about who perpetuates and experiences violence can further delay intervention and support.

Domestic violence can take many forms, including:

They can also overlap. Sexual harassment, for example, could be considered both verbal and sexual violence.

Some forms of violence look the same across the board, regardless of either person’s gender. For example:

Sometimes, domestic violence can be distinctly gendered. For example:

  • intentionally misgendering you
  • attempting to emasculate you or make you feel like “less of a man”
  • secretly discontinuing prescription birth control to promote unintended pregnancy
  • threatening to “out” your gender identity or sexual orientation to others
  • denying that you are the father of your shared children

Conflict is natural. Even if you love somebody and have a healthy relationship, you aren’t always going to agree on everything. It’s sometimes conflated with violence, but they aren’t the same.

Violence or abuse typically occurs when one person wants power and control, whether that’s a romantic partner, a family member, or another dynamic.

In comparison, conflict occurs when there’s a power struggle — you’re negotiating, compromising, and working out how to share power.

Disagreements rooted in development are often an example of healthy conflict.

If, for example, your romantic partner is upset, you can move the relationship forward by calmly and respectfully discussing what’s bothering them, how you each feel, and where you’re each coming from.

Sometimes, conflict is unhealthy. To continue the aforementioned example, this might look like your romantic partner giving you the silent treatment until you ask what’s wrong. When you do, they might start yelling at you, and you might start yelling back.

Unhealthy conflict is usually a one-off or infrequent occurrence. If it happens more often than not — maybe your romantic partner yells at you most days of the week — it may be considered domestic violence.

Behavior that crosses the line, like physical assault, is always considered violent.

Often, domestic violence happens because it’s a way for the perpetrator to gain power and control. This desire for control could be linked to many factors, from insecurity and low self-esteem to a lack of education.

For example, if the perpetrator witnessed domestic violence as a child — perhaps from one parent to another — they may grow up thinking violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.

That said, domestic violence is ultimately a choice. A person’s experiences or current struggles do not excuse or justify the decision to commit violent acts.

With professional help, an abuser can change. However, it can often be a long and tricky process, and you’re not obliged to stick around and wait for them.

There’s often a pattern in which the perpetrator promises to change, seems to be on the right track for a few days or weeks, but then reverts to past behaviors. Remember, actions speak louder than words.

Everyone has different limits when it comes to continuing a relationship. This can be complicated by financial circumstances, shared children, or even a fear of their actions if you try to leave.

Whatever your reasons — and whatever you decide to do now or in the future — there are steps to help protect yourself and your dependents. This may include children, siblings, or pets.

If you can, try to keep the lines of communication open with trusted friends or family members. You might also confide in them about what you’re experiencing so that there’s a record of violence, should you ever need it.

Leaving a violent relationship can seem daunting, and while everyone will feel differently, it might not be easy. Ultimately, your safety is paramount, and it’s best to make a plan if possible.

This might include keeping a log of what’s occurred, complete with audio, video, or photo evidence documenting any injuries, broken items, or fights.

If you have people you trust, like friends or family members, you might decide to get them involved. Tell them about your plans to leave, and maybe store clothes, important documents, and other important belongings with them.

Regarding the actual separation, you might decide to get to a place of safety — like a loved one’s home — and then communicate your decision via a phone call or a text message.

If you want to end things face-to-face, avoid being one-on-one with the other person. Stick to a public location, and bring a supportive person with you so you aren’t alone.

You deserve love and respect in your relationships, regardless of whether they’re romantic.

If you’re experiencing domestic violence, know that you aren’t alone and that help is available:

Adam England lives in the U.K., and his work has appeared in a number of national and international publications. When he’s not working, he’s probably listening to live music.