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Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?
What are the types of abuse?
How can I tell if my partner is abusive?
What is the first step in breaking a pattern of abuse?
What is a safety plan?
What resources are available to help abused women?

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is aggressive, controlling, threatening, or violent behavior within the household, typically involving the abuse of a spouse or partner.

A woman is being abused if she has had intentional, often repeated, physical, sexual, or emotional harm done to her by a person with whom she is or has been in an intimate relationship.

What are the types of abuse?

Abuse can take many forms, the most common include the following:

  • Battering and physical assault
    • Pushing, hitting, slapping, kicking, choking, beating, throwing objects at the victim, or attacking with a weapon.
  • Sexual assault
    • Forced sexual activity, including vaginal, oral, or anal intercourse.
  • Psychologic abuse
    • Attacking or smashing valued objects and pets
  • Threatening to harm the victim or their children
    • Trying to dominate or control the victim’s life
    • Taking away money, food, sleep, clothing or transportation
    • Keeping the victim from being in touch with their family and friends
    • Controlling reproductive choices by trying to prevent the use of birth control
    • Forcing the victim to perform degrading acts.

How can I tell if my partner is abusive?

Disagreements and arguments, even heated ones, are part of a normal relationship but physical violence and other abuse is not. People have a right to get angry, but no one has the right to express their anger by using violence to hurt you.

Has your spouse or partner ever done any of the following?

  • Frighten you with threats of violence or by throwing things when angry?
  • Hit you, and even say it is your fault if they do so?
  • Have promised to never hit you again, but they do?
  • Put you down in public?
  • Have kept you from contacting family or friends?
  • Forced you to have sex when you didn’t want to?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may be involved in an abusive relationship. If this is the case, you are not alone and have options.

What is the first step in breaking a pattern of abuse?

First, you need to tell someone (a nurse or doctor, counselor, social worker, close friend or family member, or a clergy member) and contact them if you need to leave a dangerous situation.

It may be hard to talk about at first. Many abused women feel relieved and a sense of safety after they have told someone outside the home. However, it is common to have feelings of shame at this point.

Keep in mind that no one deserves to be abused, and it is the abuser’s fault, not the victim’s.

What is a safety plan?

A safety plan can be put in place to help you and your children get out of a violent situation quickly.

you may take these steps ahead of time:

  • Keep special items in a safe place
    • Have important items handy so you can take them with you if you need to leave quickly.
  • Pack a suitcase
    • Pack anything you and your children would need if you were to leave the house.
  • Talk to your children
    • Let them know none of it is their fault
    • tell them to call the police, family, friend, or neighbor if you are unable to in a dangerous situation.
  • Know exactly where you will go
    • Have a certain friend or family member’s home, or a women’s shelter in mind that you will go to regardless of the time of day.
  • Call your healthcare provider or go to the emergency room if you are hurt
    • Keep a copy of your medical records so you can file charges if desired.
  • Call the police
    • Domestic violence is a crime
    • Give the police all the information you can about the incident.

What resources are available to help abused women?

No matter what decision you decide to make about your situation, counseling can help you as you begin to make changes in your life.

  • Counselors can help with finding a job or dealing with money concerns or children problems.
  • If you are married to the abuser and wish to separate from them, make sure to get a lawyer who is experienced in dealing with abuse cases.
  • If money is a concern, check out the resources in your area. Many communities have legal aid services.
  • For more information about resources in your area, call the 24-hour toll-free National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) and 800-787-3224 (TDD).