WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?
We define domestic violence as a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship, that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions, or threats of actions, that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that intimidate, manipulate, humiliate, isolate, frighten, terrorize, coerce, threaten, blame, hurt, injure, or wound someone.
Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of race, age, sexual orientation or religion. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Domestic violence occurs in both opposite-sex and same-sex relationships and can happen to intimate partners who are married, living together, or dating.
Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but also has a substantial effect on family members, friends, co-workers, other witnesses, and the community at large. Children, who grow up witnessing domestic violence, are among those seriously affected by this crime. Frequent exposure to violence in the home predisposes children to numerous social and physical problems.
*Sources: National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Center for Victims of Crime, and WomensLaw.org.
HOW TO SUPPORT A LOVED ONE
DO'S AND DON'TS
*Approach the other person in a manner that allows for safety and confidentiality.
*Express concern (i.e., “I’m concerned someone is hurting you and am concerned for your safety.”)
*Listen and believe what they are sharing with you.
*Communicate that they do not deserve to be hurt, and that the abuse is not their fault.
*Help to normalize any feelings they may be having.
*Respect the survivor’s choices.
*Help them to find support systems and refer them to Domestic Harmony for free services.
*Continue to educate yourself on the dynamics of domestic violence.
*Do not judge a survivor’s choices; do not judge or criticize their abuser or assume you understand everything they are coping with.
*Do not pressure a survivor to leave the abusive relationship. It is never as simple as encouraging a victim to “just leave”. It is okay to communicate to the survivor that help is out there, that you care about them/their children.
*Be aware that there are many reasons a survivor stays and do not judge them for this. It is possible their abuser has threatened to hurt them or their children if they try to leave. The abuser may control all the finances. They may have isolated the victim from friends and family. The abuser may have promised to change, and the victim may still love him/her.
PERSONALIZED SAFETY PLAN
Your safety is the most important thing.
Listed below are tips to help keep you safe.
If you are in an abusive relationship, think about...
Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, crisis line, friends and the local shelter.
Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises.
If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use every day. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
Go over your safety plan often.
If you consider leaving your abuser, think about...
Four places you could go if you leave your home.
People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
Putting together a bag of things you use every day. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
Source: Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs (DAIP)