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Domestic Violence and Abuse Reporting






Domestic Violence and Abuse:

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Abusive RelationshipsDV1

If you think your husband or boyfriend is abusive, or you suspect that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, review the red flags of domestic violence and abuse listed in this article. Recognizing the warning signs and symptoms of spousal abuse is the first step to breaking free.

If you’re afraid for your immediate safety, call 911. For help and advice on escaping an abusive relationship, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224.

In This Article:


Domestic Violence and Abuse

Special note:

Although men also suffer from domestic abuse and violence, women are five to eight times more likely than men to be victimized by an intimate partner. Because men are more often the abusers, abusers are referred to as “he” in this article.

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” He uses fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and gain complete power over you. He may threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Victims of domestic abuse or domestic violence may be men or women, although women are more commonly victimized. This abuse happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. Except for the gender difference, domestic abuse doesn’t discriminate. It happens within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and financial levels. The abuse may occur during a relationship, while the couple is breaking up, or after the relationship has ended.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his behavior. In fact, violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to take control over his wife or partner.


Violent Behavior is an Abuser’s Choice

Reasons we know an abuser’s behaviors are not about anger and rage:

  • He does not batter other individuals – the boss who does not give him time off or the gas station attendant that spills gas down the side of his car. He waits until there are no witnesses and abuses the person he says he loves.
  • If you ask an abused woman, “can he stop when the phone rings or the police come to the door?” She will say “yes”. Most often when the police show up, he is looking calm, cool and collected and she is the one who may look hysterical. If he were truly “out of control” he would not be able to stop himself when it is to his advantage to do so.
  • The abuser very often escalates from pushing and shoving to hitting in places where the bruises and marks will not show. If he were “out of control” or “in a rage” he would not be able to direct or limit where his kicks or punches land.

Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service

Spousal abuse and battery are used for one purpose: to gain and maintain total control over the victim. In addition to physical violence, abusers use the following tactics to exert power over their wives or partners:CYCLE

  • Dominance — Abusive individuals need to feel in charge of the relationship. They will make decisions for you and the family, tell you what to do, and expect you to obey without question. Your abuser may treat you like a servant, child, or even as his possession.
  • Humiliation — An abuser will do everything he can to make you feel bad about yourself, or defective in some way. After all, if you believe you’re worthless and that no one else will want you, you’re less likely to leave. Insults, name-calling, shaming, and public put-downs are all weapons of abuse designed to erode your self-esteem and make you feel powerless.
  • Isolation — In order to increase your dependence on him, an abusive partner will cut you off from the outside world. He may keep you from seeing family or friends, or even prevent you from going to work or school. You may have to ask permission to do anything, go anywhere, or see anyone. Source: Domestic Abuse Intervention Project, MN
  • Threats — Abusers commonly use threats to keep their victims from leaving or to scare them into dropping charges. Your abuser may threaten to hurt or kill you, your children, other family members, or even pets. He may also threaten to commit suicide, file false charges against you, or report you to child services.
  • Intimidation — Your abuser may use a variety of intimation tactics designed to scare you into submission. Such tactics include making threatening looks or gestures, smashing things in front of you, destroying property, hurting your pets, or putting weapons on display. The clear message is that if you don’t obey, there will be violent consequences.
  • Denial and blame — Abusers are very good at making excuses for the inexcusable. They will blame their abusive and violent behavior on a bad childhood, a bad day, and even on the victims of their abuse. Your abuser may minimize the abuse or deny that it occurred. He will commonly shift the responsibility onto you: Somehow, his violence and abuse is your fault.

Cycle of violenceccle

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:

  • Abuse — The abuser lashes out with aggressive or violent behavior. The abuse is a power play designed to show the victim “who is boss.”
  • Guilt — After the abusive episode, the abuser feels guilt, but not over what he’s done to the victim. The guilt is over the possibility of being caught and facing consequences.
  • Rationalization or excuses — The abuser rationalizes what he’s done. He may come up with a string of excuses or blame the victim for his own abusive behavior—anything to shift responsibility from himself.
  • “Normal” behavior — The abuser does everything he can to regain control and keep the victim in the relationship. He may act as if nothing has happened, or he may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
  • Fantasy and planning — The abuser begins to fantasize about abusing his victim again, spending a lot of time thinking about what she’s done wrong and how he’ll make her pay. Then he makes a plan for turning the fantasy of abuse into reality.
  • Set-up — The abuser sets up the victim and puts his plan in motion, creating a situation where he can justify abusing her.


The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service

Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are real.

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to physical violence and even murder. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. No one deserves this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Signs of an abusive relationship

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. The most significant sign is fear of your partner. Other signs include a partner who belittles you or tries to control you, and feelings of self-loathing, helplessness, and desperation.

To determine whether your relationship is abusive, answer the questions in the table below. The more “yes” answers, the more likely it is that you’re in an abusive relationship.


Your Inner Thoughts and Feelings

Your Partner’s Belittling Behavior

Do you:

  • feel afraid of your partner much of the time?
  • avoid certain topics out of fear of angering your partner?
  • feel that you can’t do anything right for your partner?
  • believe that you deserve to be hurt or mistreated?
  • wonder if you’re the one who is crazy?
  • feel emotionally numb or helpless? 

Does your partner:

  • humiliate, criticize, or yell at you?
  • treat you so badly that you’re embarrassed for your friends or family to see?
  • ignore or put down your opinions or accomplishments?
  • blame you for his own abusive behavior?
  • see you as property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

Your Partner’s Violent Behavior or Threats

Your Partner’s Controlling Behavior

Does your partner:

  • have a bad and unpredictable temper?
  • hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you? 
  • threaten to take your children away or harm them?
  • threaten to commit suicide if you leave?
  • force you to have sex?
  • destroy your belongings?

Does your partner:

  • act excessively jealous and possessive?
  • control where you go or what you do?
  • keep you from seeing your friends or family?
  • limit your access to money, the phone, or the car?
  • constantly check up on you?


Types of domestic violence and abuse 

There are different types of domestic abuse, including emotional, physical, sexual, and economic abuse. Many abusers behave in ways that include more than one type of domestic abuse, and the boundaries between some of these behaviors may overlap.


Emotional or psychological abuse  

Emotional or psychological abuse can be verbal or nonverbal. Its aim is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship, or that without your abusive partner you have nothing. Emotional abuse includes verbal abuse such as yelling, name-calling, blaming, and shaming. Isolation, intimidation, and controlling behavior also fall under emotional abuse. Additionally, abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so. Furthermore, emotional abuse usually worsens over time, often escalating to physical battery.


Physical abuse

When people talk about domestic violence, they are often referring to the physical abuse of a spouse or intimate partner. Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. There’s a broad range of behaviors that come under the heading of physical abuse, including hitting, grabbing, choking, throwing things, and assault with a weapon.

Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.


Sexual abuse

Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, between one-third and one-half of all battered women are raped by their partners at least once during their relationship. Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.


Economic or financial abuse

Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he will frequently hurt you to do that. In addition to hurting you emotionally and physically, an abusive partner may also hurt you in the pocketbook. Economic of financial abuse includes:

  • Controlling the finances.
  • Withholding money or credit cards.
  • Giving you an allowance.
  • Making you account for every penny you spend.
  • Stealing from you or taking your money.
  • Exploiting your assets for personal gain.
  • Withholding basic necessities (food, clothes, medications, shelter).
  • Preventing you from working or choosing your own career.
  • Sabotaging your job (making you miss work, calling constantly)


Domestic Violence Warning Signs

Take Precautions

Call 911 or the police in your community if you suspect a case of domestic violence.

It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse. If you witness a number of warning signs in a friend, family member, or co-worker, you can reasonably suspect domestic abuse.

  • Frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents”
  • Frequent and sudden absences from work or school
  • Frequent, harassing phone calls from the partner
  • Fear of the partner, references to the partner’s anger
  • Personality changes (e.g. an outgoing woman becomes withdrawn)
  • Excessive fear of conflict
  • Submissive behavior, lack of assertiveness
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Insufficient resources to live (money, credit cards, car) Domestic Violence and Abuse: Help, Treatment, Intervention, and Prevention
  • Depression, crying, low self-esteem

Reporting suspected domestic abuse is important. If you’re afraid of getting involved, remember that the report is confidential and everything possible will be done to protect your privacy. You don’t have to give your name, and your suspicions will be investigated before anyone is taken into custody. Most important, you can protect the victim from further harm by calling for help.


Part 2: Help, Treatment, Intervention, and Prevention covers protecting yourself from domestic violence and leaving an abusive relationship safely, including restraining orders, shelters, staying safe after you’ve left, and dealing with the trauma of domestic abuse


Help, Treatment, Intervention, and Prevention

dv3If you’re a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you may be afraid to seek help out of fear of you’re your partner would do if he found out. However, there are many things you can do to protect yourself when leaving. Start by creating a safety plan ahead of time, so you know exactly where to go and how to get away fast when your abuser attacks. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) for advice and help with your escape.

If you need help immediately, call 911.

In This Article:


Getting Help for Domestic Abuse or Violence

Domestic Violence: Where to Turn for Help

For emergency help: Call 911 if you are in immediate danger of domestic violence or have already been hurt.

For advice and support: Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE). Additional contacts for the hotline:

Help through email:

Help for the hearing-impaired: 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or

For a safe place to stay: Call your state’s branch of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence if you need a shelter from domestic violence. To find your state’s hotline number, go to the State Coalition List.

How can a woman safely leave an abusive relationship and protect herself from further abuse? Most women cannot simply leave their homes, their jobs, their children’s schools, their friends, and their relatives to escape their abuser. They depend upon police to enforce the law against physical abuse. Yet, police cannot act until a restraining order is violated or until some physical harm again befalls the woman.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you may believe that it’s easier to stay with your abuser than to try to leave and risk retaliation. However, there are many things you can do to protect yourself while getting out of an abusive situation, and there are people waiting to help.


Protecting yourself from domestic violence

If you live with someone who abuses you or if someone is stalking you, you need to take immediate measures to protect yourself. You’re in extra danger if your abuser or stalker talks about murder or suicide. You’re also in particular danger if you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship.

Because of the risk of being seriously hurt or killed when leaving an abusive relationship, it’s important to develop a safe plan for departure. The National Doemstic Violence Hotline site provides Hotlines for help. People who are staffing the phones or answering email can advise you on how to protect yourself, refer you to other services and domestic violence shelters, and inform you about local laws and restraining orders.


If you’re still living with your abusive partner:

Domestic Violence Escape Kit

Pack a survival kit.

    • Money for cab fare
    • A change of clothes
    • Extra house and car keys
    • Birth certificates
    • Driver’s license or passport
    • Medications and copies of prescriptions
    • Insurance information
    • Checkbook
    • Credit cards
    • Legal documents such as separation agreements and protection orders
    • Address books
    • Valuable jewelry
    • Papers that show jointly owned assets

Conceal it in the home or leave it with a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative. Important papers can also be left in a bank deposit box.

Source: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook


Know your abuser’s red flags. Be on alert for signs and clues that your abuser is getting upset and may explode in anger or violence. Come up with several believable reasons you can use to leave the house (both during the day and at night) if you sense trouble brewing.

  • Identify safe areas of the house. Know where to go if your abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed spaces without exits (such as closets or bathrooms) or rooms with weapons (such as the kitchen). If possible, head for a room with a phone and an outside door or window.
  • Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice. Keep the car fueled up and facing the driveway exit, with the driver’s door unlocked. Hide a spare car key where you can get it quickly. Have emergency cash, clothing, and important phone numbers and documents stashed in a safe place (at a friend’s house, for example).
  • Practice escaping quickly and safely. Rehearse your escape plan so you know exactly what to do if under attack from your abuser. If you have children, have them practice the escape plan also.
  • Come up with a code word. Establish a word, phrase, or signal you can use to let your children, friends, neighbors, or co-workers know that you’re in danger and the police should be called.
  • Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts. Ask several trusted individuals if you can contact them if you need a ride, a place to stay, or help contacting the police. Memorize the numbers of your emergency contacts, local shelter, and domestic violence hotline.
  • Keep change and cash on you at all times. Know where the nearest public phone is located, and have change available so you can use it in an emergency situation to call for help. Also try to keep cash on hand for cab fare.

Additionally, to keep yourself safe from domestic abuse and violence you should document all abuse. If you’ve been injured, take photographs. If you have been abused in front of others, ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Finally, don’t hesitate to call the police if your abuser has hurt you or broken the law. Contact the police even if you just think your abuser might have broken a law. Assaulting you, stealing from you, and destroying your property are all crimes.


Protecting Your Children From Domestic Violence and Abuse

How to make your children safer:

  • Teach them not to get in the middle of a fight, even if they want to help.
  • Teach them how to get to safety, to call 911, to give your address and phone number to the police.
  • Teach them who to call for help.
  • Tell them to stay out of the kitchen.
  • Give school officials a copy of your court order; tell them not to release your children to anyone without talking to you first; use a password so they can be sure it is you on the phone; give them a photo of the abuser.
  • Make sure the children know who to tell at school if they see the abuser.
  • Make sure that the school knows not to give your address or phone number to anyone.

Source: American Bar Association


Leaving an abusive relationship safely

You may be afraid to leave out of fear that your partner will retaliate if they find out. However, there are precautions you can take to stay safe as you seek help.


Seeking Help by Phone

Protecting Yourself From Domestic Violence

Phone Safety Tips

When seeking help for domestic violence, call from a public pay phone or another phone outside the house, using one of the following payment methods:

  • A prepaid phone card
  • A friend’s telephone charge card
  • Coins
  • A collect call

When you seek help by phone, use a corded phone if possible, rather than a cordless phone or cell phone. A corded phone is more private, and less easy to tap.

Remember that if you use your own home phone or telephone charge card, the phone numbers that you call will be listed on the monthly bill that is sent to your home.

Even if you’ve already left by the time the bill arrives, your abuser may be able to track you down by the phone numbers you’ve called for help.

You can call 911 for free on most public phones, so know where the closest one is in case of emergency. Some domestic violence shelters offer free cell phones to battered women. Call your local hotline to find out more.


Seeking help online

If you seek help online, you are safest if you use a computer outside of your home. You can use a computer at a domestic violence shelter or agency, at work, at a friend’s house, at a library, or at a community center.

It is almost impossible to clear a computer of all evidence of the websites that you have visited, unless you know a lot about Internet browsers and about your own computer. Also be careful when sending email, as your abuser may know how to access your account. See the Women’s article on Internet Security for instructions for covering your online tracks and email history, but be wary of leaving traces that your abuser might find.


Protecting your privacy at a domestic violence shelter

If you go to a domestic violence shelter or women’s refuge, you do not have to give identifying information about yourself, even if asked. While shelters take many measures to protect the women they house, giving a false name may help keep your abuser from finding you (particularly if you live in a small town).


Restraining orders

You may want to consider getting a restraining order or protective order against your abusive partner. However, remember that the police can enforce a restraining order only if someone violates it, and then only if someone reports the violation. This means that you must be endangered in some way for the police to step in!

If you are the victim of stalking or abuse, you need to carefully research how restraining orders are enforced in your neighborhood. Find out if the abuser will just be given a citation or if they will actually be taken to jail. If the police simply talk to the violator or give a citation, your abuser may reason that the police will do nothing and feel empowered to pursue you further. Or your abuser may become angry and retaliate.

Do not feel falsely secure with a restraining order!

You are not necessarily safe if you have a restraining order or protection order. The stalker or abuser may ignore it, and the police may do nothing to enforce it. To learn about restraining orders in your area, call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or contact your state’s Domestic Violence Coalition.


Domestic Violence Shelters

Locate a Women’s Shelter:

Click here for a state-by-state directory of domestic violence shelters.

A domestic violence shelter or women’s shelter is a building or set of apartments where victims of domestic violence can go to seek refuge from their abusers. The location of the shelter is kept confidential in order to keep your abuser from finding you.

The domestic violence shelter will provide for all your basic living needs, including food and child care. Shelters generally have room for both mothers and their children. The length of time you can stay at the shelter is limited, but most shelters also help victims find permanent homes, jobs, and other things they need to start a new life.


Staying safe after you’ve left

Keeping yourself safe from your abuser is just as important after you’ve left. To do so, you may need to relocate so your former partner can’t find you. If you have children, they may need to switch schools.


To keep your new location a secret:

  • Get an unlisted phone number.
  • Use a post office box rather than your home address.
  • Apply to your state’s address confidentiality program, a service that confidentially forwards your mail to your home.
  • Cancel your old bank accounts and credit cards, especially if you shared them with your abuser. When you open new accounts, be sure to use a different bank.

If you’re remaining in the same area, change up your routine. Take a new route to work, avoid places where your abuser might think to locate you, change any appointments he knows about, and find new places to shop and run errands. You should also keep a cell phone on you at all times and be ready to call 911 if you spot your former abuser. You can also learn self-defense to protect yourself.


Dealing with the trauma of domestic abuse DV4

The scars of domestic violence and abuse run deep. The trauma of what you’ve been through can stay with you long after you’ve escaped the abusive situation. Counseling, therapy, and support groups for domestic abuse survivors can help you process what you’ve been through and learn how to build new and healthy relationships. For help in coping with the aftermath of domestic violence see Emotional and Psychological Trauma.


Domestic Violence and Abuse

Warning Signs and Symptoms of Abusive Relationships. If you suspect that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, learn about the red flags of domestic violence and abuse and common patterns that run through the predictable cycles of violence.
Read Domestic Violence and Abuse


Elder Abuse: Types, Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Help.  

Elder abuse has reached epidemic proportions. Elderly people may be more vulnerable to abuse than others because of social isolation and mental impairment. Abuse of the elderly can occur in the elder’s home, in a nursing home, or in public.
Read Elder Abuse: Types, Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Help


Child Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Help

Child abuse is both shocking and commonplace. Child abusers inflict physical, sexual, and emotional trauma on defenseless children every day. The scars can be deep and long-lasting.
Read Child Abuse: Signs, Symptoms, Causes & Help


Related links for domestic violence help and support

Domestic violence hotlines

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) – A crisis intervention and referral phone line for domestic violence. The service also has an email address and access for the deaf. Hotline staff members can speak in English or Spanish and have access to translators for many other languages. (Texas Council on Family Violence)

State Coalition List – Lists the phone numbers for the state offices of the NCADV. These offices can help you find local support or a shelter from domestic violence, as well as free or low-cost legal services. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Domestic violence shelters and support

Tour a Domestic Violence Shelter – Find out what you can expect at a typical women’s refuge or shelter and hear personal experiences of what life there is like. (Safe Horizon)

Phenomenal Women Of The Web Against Domestic Violence Webring – An online support group for women who are victims of domestic abuse. The site points to other sites that discuss domestic violence. (The Phenomenal Women Of The Web)

Safety planning for domestic violence

Safety Planning – Guidelines for how to safely leave an abusive relationship, what to do if you’ve filed a restraining order, and what to do once you’ve left the relationship. (Women’s Law Initiative)

Internet Security – Gives detailed instructions on how to clear your computer’s Internet browser and email account from showing evidence of your seeking help for domestic abuse. (Women’s Law Initiative)

Hiding Your Internet Tracks – More advice on how to cover your Internet tracks from your abuser.

Protecting Your Identity – Tips for keeping your identity and location a secret after leaving an abusive relationship. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Legal help and advice for domestic violence and abuse

Women’s Law Initiative – State-by-state legal information and resources for victims of domestic violence.
En Español: Bienvenido (Iniciativ a de Derecho de la Mujer). (Women’s Law Initiative)

Consumer’s Guide to Legal Help on the Internet – Guide to finding free legal aid for victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. (American Bar Association)

Statutory Summary Charts – Provides charts summarizing the statutes from all 50 states regarding domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and dating violence. (American Bar Association)

Victim Law – Search a comprehensive, user-friendly database of victims’ rights laws across the U.S. Includes summaries of statutes, tribal laws, constitutional amendments, and court rules. (National Center for Victims of Crime)

Stalking and cyberstalking

Stalking Resource Center: Help for Victims – A storehouse of information and resources for victims and potential victims of stalking or cyberstalking. (National Center for Victims of Crime)

If You’re Being Stalked (PDF) – Lists the ten most important things you can to do protect yourself if you’re the victim of stalking. (Stalking Victims Sanctuary)

Survival: What You Need to Know – Resources for stalking victims, including how to stay safe, avoid common mistakes, and find help. (Stalking Victims Sanctuary)

Cyberstalking – Learn how to protect yourself from cyberstalking and what your legal rights are. (National Center for Victims of Crime)

Self-defense for women

IMPACT Safety Programs – A self-defense training program for people, especially women, that focuses on quick response and retreat from danger. (Impact Safety Programs Personal & Organization Violence Prevention)

FAST Defense Training Locations – Lists locations around the world where you can take FAST self-defense classes, which teach you how to respond both verbally and physically when threatened. (FAST Defense)

Delving deeper into domestic violence and abuse

Toolkit to End Violence Against Women – In-depth guide for communities, policy leaders, and other individuals on how to end violence against women. (National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women)

Violence Against Women Online Resources – A website for professionals and practitioners who help victims and perpetrators of domestic violence and abuse. (Office on Violence Against Women and Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse)

U.S. Department of Agriculture

Safety, Health and Employee Welfare Division



Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook

Stop the Cycle of Violence!

All of you know how much needs to be done to take meaningful steps to end domestic violence and sexual assault. We need tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecutions, effective prevention programs and available shelters for families in distress. Most importantly, we need to insure that more people know and understand that domestic violence is not a private matter. It is a critical national problem that affects us all — in every community, in every work place and in every school.

Each of us can do more — and this handbook shows us how.

President Clinton recognized the seriousness of the problem when he signed the Violence Against Women Act as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. In the past year, the Department of Justice has sought to combine tough federal penalties along with substantial resources to the states to begin dealing with the problem of domestic violence in a comprehensive, multi-faceted way. States and local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged to begin programs that will enhance their ability to prevent domestic violence, to punish it and to stop the cycle of violence. The Act also established a:

National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE.

President Clinton has called on all the Departments of the Federal government to develop employee awareness campaigns to help combat domestic violence. The Department of Justice, Violence Against Women Office, prepared this handbook as a resource guide for anyone seeking assistance or information on Domestic Violence. The following web site addresses are provided as additional resources:

Domestic Violence Awareness Handbook

·         Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence

·         Domestic Violence…What Is It?

·         Who Are the Victims?

·         Myths About Family Violence

·         What You Can Say to a Victim?

·         What is a Safety Plan?

·         What Each of Us Can Do

·         What Communities Can Do to Prevent Domestic Violence

·         Domestic Violence and the Workplace

·         Where Can You Get Help?


Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence

Tough new laws are one way to reduce domestic violence and sexual assaults. Nothing sends a clearer message to a wife-beater — Department of Justice statistics confirm that women are battered far more than men — than prosecuting and jailing other wife-beaters. New laws, however, are not the only answer.

Too many people continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter between a couple, rather than a criminal offense that merits a strong and swift response. Even today, the victim of a domestic assault runs the risk of being asked, “What did you do to make your husband angry?” This questions implies the victim is to blame for this abuse. People in our criminal justice system — police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors — need to be educated about the role they can play in curbing acts of domestic violence.

Even when cases are brought, domestic crimes are difficult to prosecute. All too often victims are so terrorized that they fear for their lives if they call the police. Silence is the batterer’s best friend. We have to end the silence and change our attitudes toward domestic crime.

Neighbors must contact the police when they hear violent fights in their neighborhoods. Don’t turn up the television to block out the sounds of the drunken argument next door. Call the police.

Teachers should be alert to signs that students have witnessed violence at home. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become violent themselves.

Medical professionals who see the victims of violence need to ask them about these crimes. Too often, doctors or emergency room personnel accept the statement of fearful victims that their bruises or cuts are the result of household accidents or falls. When a woman with a black eye says that she fell and hit the doorknob, doctors and nurses must ask: “Did someone hit you?”

Members of the clergy need to become more involved as well. We just can’t tell a battered spouse to “go home and make it work,” as was done in the past. Sending a woman back to a battering husband often places her life at risk. Of course, we can’t tell a woman who lives in a violent relationship what to do, but we can make a greater effort to let her know that other options are available for her and her children. Early intervention is crucial.

These crimes are serious. Experience shows that levels of violence in these relationships tend to escalate, and many police departments cite domestic violence as their number one problem. Tough laws and effective prosecutions, combined with education and a cooperative approach among law enforcement and social service agencies, will take time to be effective. Until then, we all must take a greater role in reporting domestic abuse. Our efforts to break the silence can make a difference.


Domestic Violence…What is It?

As domestic violence awareness has increased, it has become evident that abuse can occur within a number of relationships. The laws in many states cover incidents of violence occurring between married couples, as well as abuse of elders by family members, abuse between roommates, dating couples and those in lesbian and gay relationships.

In an abusive relationship, the abuser may use a number of tactics other than physical violence in order to maintain power and control over his or her partner:

Emotional and verbal abuse:

Survivors of domestic violence recount stories of put-downs, public humiliation, name-calling, mind games and manipulation by their partners. Many say that the emotional abuse they have suffered has left the deepest scars.



It is common for an abuser to be extremely jealous, and insist that the victim not see her friends or family members. The resulting feeling of isolation may then be increased for the victim if she loses her job as a result of absenteeism or decreased productivity (which are often associated with people who are experiencing domestic violence).

Threats and Intimidation:

Threats — including threats of violence, suicide, or of taking away the children — are a very common tactic employed by the batterer.

The existence of emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate, and threats and intimidation within a relationship may be an indication that physical abuse is to follow. Even if they are not accompanied by physical abuse, the effect of these incidents must not be minimized. Many of the resources listed in this book have information available for people who are involved with an emotionally abusive intimate partner.

For additional information on the domestic violence definitions and laws in your state, please contact the state resource listed in this handbook.


Who Are the Victims?

·  Women were attacked about six times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than were male violence victims.

·  Nearly 30 percent of all female homicide victims were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands or boyfriends.

·   In contrast, just over 3 percent of male homicide victims were known to have been killed by their wives, former wives or girlfriends.

·   Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed more than one million violent acts against women.

·   Family members or other people they knew committed more than 2.7 million violent crimes against women.

·   Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed 26 percent of rapes and sexual assaults.

·   Forty-five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple offenders involve offenders they know.

·   The rate of intimate-offender attacks on women separated from their husbands was about three times higher than that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women.

·   Women of all races were equally vulnerable to attacks by intimates.

·   Female victims of violence were more likely to be injured when attacked by someone they knew than female victims of violence who were attacked by strangers.


Myths About Family Violence

Myth:Family violence is rare…

o    Although statistics on family violence are not precise, it’s clear that millions of children, women and even men are abused physically by family members and other intimates.

o    Myth:Family violence is confined to the lower classes…

o    Reports from police records, victim services, and academic studies show domestic violence exists equally in every socioeconomic group, regardless of race or culture.

Myth:Alcohol and drug abuse are the real causes of violence in the home…

o    Because many male batterers also abuse alcohol and other drugs, it’s easy to conclude that these substances may cause domestic violence. They apparently do increase the lethality of the violence, but they also offer the batterer another excuse to evade responsibility for his behavior. The abusive man — and men are the abusers in the overwhelming majority of domestic violence incidents — typically controls his actions, even when drunk or high, by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected. In addition, successful completion of a drug treatment program does not guarantee an end to battering. Domestic violence and substance abuse are two different problems that should be treated separately.

Myth:Battered wives like being hit, otherwise they would leave…

o    The most common response to battering– “Why doesn’t she just leave?”– ignores economic and social realities facing many women. Shelters are often full, and family, friends, and the workplace are frequently less than fully supportive. Faced with rent and utility deposits, day care, health insurance, and other basic expenses, the woman may feel that she cannot support herself and her children. Moreover, in some instances, the woman may be increasing the chance of physical harm or even death if she leaves an abusive spouse.

Adapted from:: “Preventing Violence Against Women, Not Just a Women’s Issue,” National Crime Prevention Council, 1995.

What Can You Say to a Victim?

·  I’m afraid for your safety.

·   I’m afraid for the safety of your children.

·   It will only get worse.

·   We’re here for you when you are ready or when you are able to leave.

·   You deserve better than this.

·    Let’s figure out a safety plan for you.

Adapted from: Sarah Buel, Esq., in “Courts and Communities: Confronting Violence in the Family,” Conference Highlights, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1994.


What is a Safety Plan?

Every individual in an abusive relationship needs a safety plan. Shelters and crisis counselors have been urging safety plans for years, and police departments, victim services, hospitals, and courts have adopted this strategy. Safety plans should be individualized — for example, taking account of age, marital status, whether children are involved, geographic location, and resources available — but still contain common elements.


When creating a safety plan:

· Think about all possible escape routes. Doors, first-floor windows, basement exits, elevators, stairwells. Rehearse if possible.

· Choose a place to go. To the home of a friend or relative who will offer unconditional support, or a motel or hotel, or a shelter – most importantly somewhere you will feel safe.

·  Pack a survival kit. Money for cab fare, a change of clothes, extra house and car keys, birth certificates, passports, medications and copies of prescriptions, insurance information, checkbook, credit cards, legal documents such as separation agreements and protection orders, address books, and valuable jewelry, and papers that show jointly owned assets. Conceal it in the home or leave it with a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative. Important papers can also be left in a bank deposit box.

· Try to start an individual savings account. Have statements sent to a trusted relative or friend.

· Avoid arguments with the abuser in areas with potential weapons. Kitchen, garage, or in small spaces without access to an outside door.

· Know the telephone number of the domestic violence hotline. Contact it for information on resources and legal rights.

· Review the safety plan monthly.

Adapted from: “Preventing Domestic Violence” by Laura Crites in Prevention Communique, March 1992, Crime Prevention Division, Department of the Attorney General, Hawaii.


What Can Each of Us Do?

· Call the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence.

· Speak out publicly against domestic violence.

· Take action personally against domestic violence when a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member is involved or being abused.

· Encourage your neighborhood watch or block association to become as concerned with watching out for domestic violence as with burglaries and other crimes.

· Reach out to support someone whom you believe is a victim of domestic violence and/or talk with a person you believe is being abusive.

· Help others become informed, by inviting speakers to your church, professional organization, civic group, or workplace.

· Support domestic violence counseling programs and shelters.

Adapted from: “Preventing Domestic Violence” by Laura Crites in Prevention Communique, March 1992, Crime Prevention Division, Department of the Attorney General, Hawaii.


What Can Communities do to Prevent Domestic Violence?

· Expand education and awareness efforts to increase positive attitudes toward nonviolence and encourage individuals to report family violence.

· Form or task forces to assess the problem, develop an action plan, and monitor progress.

· Mandate training in domestic violence for all social services and criminal justice professionals.

· Advocate laws and judicial procedures at the state and local levels that support and protect battered women.

· Establish centers where visits between batterers and their children may be supervised, for the children’s safety.

· Fund shelters adequately.

· Recruit and train volunteers to staff hotlines, accompany victims to court, and provide administrative support to shelters and victim services.

· Improve collection of child support.

· Establish medical protocols to help physicians and other health care personnel identify and help victims of domestic abuse.

· Provide legal representation for victims of domestic violence.

· Advocate for the accessibility of services for all population groups, especially underserved populations which include immigrants and refugees, gays and lesbians, racial and ethnic minorities and the disabled.

Adapted from: “Preventing Violence Against Women: Not Just A Women’s Issue,” the National Crime Prevention Council, 1995.


Domestic Violence and the Workplace

As awareness about domestic violence has grown, so has the recognition that this crime has a major impact in the workplace. The abuse an employee receives at home can lead to lost productivity, higher stress, increased absenteeism and higher health care costs. A 1994 survey of senior corporate executives conducted by Roper Starch Worldwide on behalf of Liz Claiborne, Inc. found that:

· Fifty-seven percent believe domestic violence is a major problem in society.

· One-third thought this problem had a negative impact on their bottom lines.

· Four out of ten executives surveyed were personally aware of employees and other individuals affected by domestic violence.

To ensure that the Federal government will be a leader in educating employees about the serious implications of domestic violence, President Clinton has directed the heads of every Federal department to conduct employee awareness campaigns on the issue. Similar programs are underway in corporate America, led by companies such as the Polaroid Corporation, Marshalls Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., and Aetna.


Where Can You Get Help?

This handbook is another step in the Federal Employee Awareness Campaign on Domestic Violence, the goal of which is to educate and foster awareness about domestic violence for United States government employees worldwide.

Through this campaign, we hope to put people in touch with resources, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and publications which will be helpful in combatting the crime of domestic violence.

On February 21, 1996, President Clinton announced a nationwide, 24-hour, toll-free domestic violence hotline. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE and the TDD number for the hearing impaired is 1-800-787-3224. Help is also available to callers in Spanish and to other non-English speakers. The hotline provides immediate crisis intervention for those in need. Callers can receive counseling and be referred directly to help in their communities, including emergency services and shelters. Also, operators can offer information and referrals, counseling and assistance in reporting abuse to survivors of domestic violence, family members, neighbors, and the general public.

In many areas, there are local domestic violence agencies which can provide crisis services such as shelter, counseling, and legal assistance. These numbers can be obtained from state or regional coalitions, from the phone book, or by calling information.

The Department of Agriculture’s Employee Assistance Program can also provide you with assistance and referrals, support groups, counseling and other services.

State Coalition List

Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 4762
Montgomery, AL 36101
(334) 832-4842 Fax: (334) 832-4803
(800) 650-6522 Hotline

Alaska Network on Domestic and Sexual Violence
130 Seward Street, Room 209
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-3650 Fax: (907) 463-4493

Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
301 East Bethany Home Road, Suite C194
Phoenix, AZ 85012
(602) 279-2900 Fax: (602) 279-2980
(800) 782-6400 Nationwide

Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1401 West Capitol Avenue, Suite 170
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 907-5612 Fax: (501) 907-5618
(800) 269-4668 Nationwide

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 1798
Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 444-7163 Fax: (916) 444-7165
(800) 524-4765 Nationwide

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1120 Lincoln Street, Suite 900
Denver, CO 80203
(303) 831-9632 Fax: (303) 832-7067
(888) 778-7091

Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
90 Pitkin Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
(860) 282-7899 Fax: (860) 282-7892
(888) 774-2900 In State DV Hotline

Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
100 West 10th Street, #703
Wilmington, DE 19801
(302) 658-2958 Fax: (302) 658-5049
(800) 701-0456 Statewide

DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
5 Thomas Circle Northwest
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193

Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
425 Office Plaza
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 425-2749 Fax: (850) 425-3091
(850) 621-4202 TDD
(800) 500-1119 In State

Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
114 New Street, Suite B
Decatur, GA 30030
(404) 209-0280 Fax: (404) 766-3800
(800) 334-2836 Crisis Line

Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
716 Umi Street, Suite 210
Honolulu, HI 96819-2337
(808) 832-9316 Fax: (808) 841-6028

Idaho Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
300 Mallard Drive, Suite 130
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 384-0419 Fax: (208) 331-0687
(888) 293-6118 Nationwide

Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
801 South 11th Street
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 789-2830 Fax: (217) 789-1939
(217) 242-0376 TTY

Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1915 West 18th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 917-3685 Fax: (317) 917-3695
(800) 332-7385 In State

Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
515 – 28th Street, Suite 104
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 244-8028 Fax: (515) 244-7417
(800) 942-0333 In State Hotline

Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence
634 Southwest Harrison Street
Topeka, KS 66603
(785) 232-9784 Fax: (785) 266-1874
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
P.O. Box 356
Frankfort, KY 40602
(502) 695-5382 Phone/Fax

Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 77308
Baton Rouge, LA 70879
(225) 752-1296 Fax: (225) 751-8927

Maine Coalition To End Domestic Violence
170 Park Street
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 941-1194 Fax: (207) 941-2327

Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
6911 Laurel-Bowie Road, Suite 309
Bowie, MD 20715
(301) 352-4574 Fax: (301) 809-0422
(800) 634-3577 Nationwide

Jane Doe, Inc./Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
14 Beacon Street, Suite 507
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 248-0922 Fax: (617) 248-0902
(617) 263-2200 TTY/TDD

Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
3893 Okemos Road, Suite B-2
Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 347-7000 Phone/TTY Fax: (517) 248-0902

Minnesota Coalition For Battered Women
590 Park Street, Suite 410
St. Paul, MN 55103
(651) 646-6177 Fax: (651) 646-1527
(651) 646-0994 Crisis Line
(800) 289-6177 Nationwide

Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 4703
Jackson, MS 39296
(601) 981-9196 Fax: (601) 981-2501
(800) 898-3234

Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
718 East Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 634-4161 Fax: (573) 636-3728

Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 818
Helena, MT 59624
(406) 443-7794 Fax: (406) 443-7818
(888) 404-7794 Nationwide

Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition
1000 “O” Street, Suite 102
Lincoln, NE 68508
(402) 476-6256 Fax: (402) 476-6806
(800) 876-6238 In State Hotline
(877) 215-0167 Spanish Hotline

Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence
220 South Rock Boulevard
Reno, NV 89502
(775) 828-1115 Fax: (775) 828-9911
(800) 500-1556 In State Hotline

New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 353
Concord, NH 03302
(603) 224-8893 Fax: (603) 228-6096
(866) 644-3574 In State

New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women
1670 Whitehorse Hamilton Square
Trenton, NJ 08690
(609) 584-8107 Fax: (609) 584-9750
(800) 572-7233 In State

New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence
201 Coal Avenue Southwest
Albuquerque, NM 87102
(505) 246-9240 Fax: (505) 246-9434
(800) 773-3645 In State

New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
350 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12054
(518) 482-5464 Fax: (518) 482-3807
(800) 942-6906 English-In State
(800) 942-6908 Spanish-In State

North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
123 West Main Street, Suite 700
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-9124 Fax: (919) 682-1449
(888) 232-9124 Nation wide

North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services
418 East Rosser Avenue, Suite 320
Bismark, ND 58501
(701) 255-6240 Fax: (701) 255-1904
(888) 255-6240 Nationwide

Action Ohio Coalition For Battered Women
5900 Roche Drive, Suite 445
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 825-0551 Fax: (614) 825-0673
(888) 622-9315 In State

Ohio Domestic Violence Network
4807 Evanswood Drive, Suite 201
Columbus, OH 43229
(614) 781-9651 Fax: (614) 781-9652
(614) 781-9654 TTY
(800) 934-9840

Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
3815 North Sante Fe Avenue, Suite 124
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
(405) 524-0700 Fax: (405) 524-0711

Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
380 Southeast Spokane Street, Suite 100
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-1951 Fax: (503) 230-1973
(877) 230-1951

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
6400 Flank Drive, Suite 1300
Harrisburg, PA 17112
(717) 545-6400 Fax: (717) 545-9456
(800) 932-4632 Nationwide

The Office of Women Advocates
Box 11382
Fernandez Juancus Station
Santurce, PR 00910
(787) 721-7676 Fax: (787) 725-9248

Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
422 Post Road, Suite 202
Warwick, RI 02888
(401) 467-9940 Fax: (401) 467-9943
(800) 494-8100 In State

South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 7776
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 256-2900 Fax: (803) 256-1030
(800) 260-9293 Nationwide

South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 141
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 945-0869 Fax: (605) 945-0870
(800) 572-9196 Nationwide

Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
2 International Plaza Drive, Suite 425
Nashville, TN 37217
(615) 386-9406 Fax: (615) 383-2967
(800) 289-9018 In State


Texas Council On Family Violence
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 794-1133 Fax: (512) 794-1199

Utah Domestic Violence Council
205 North 400 West
Salt Lake City, UT 84103
(801) 521-5544 Fax: (801) 521-5548

Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 405
Montpelier, VT 05601
(802) 223-1302 Fax: (802) 223-6943
(802) 223-1115 TTY

Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
Box 2734
St. Croix, VI 00822
(340) 773-9272 Fax: (340) 773-9062

Virginians Against Domestic Violence
2850 Sandy Bay Road, Suite 101
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 221-0990 Fax: (757) 229-1553
(800) 838-8238 Nationwide

Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
711 Capitol Way, Suite Suite 702
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 586-1022 Fax: (360) 586-1024
(360) 586-1029 TTY

1402 Third Avenue, Suite 406
Seattle, WA 98101
(206) 389-2515 Fax: (206) 389-2520
(800) 886-2880 In State
(206) 389-2900 TTY

Washington State Native American Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 13260
Olympia, WA 98508
(360) 352-3120 Fax: (360) 357-3858
(888) 352-3120

West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
5004 Elk River Road South
Elkview, WV 25071
(304) 965-3552 Fax: (304) 965-3572

Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
307 South Paterson Street, Suite 1
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-0539 Fax: (608) 255-3560

Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 236
409 South Fourth Street
Laramie, WY 82073
(307) 755-5481 Fax: (307) 755-5482
(800) 990-3877 Nationwide