Presidential Proclamation--National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Domestic violence should not happen to anybody. Ever.But It does.
What is Abuse? - A Warning List
Many people who are being abused do not see themselves as victims. Also, abusers do not see themselves as being abusive. People often think of domestic violence as physical violence, such as hitting. However, domestic violence takes other forms, such as psychological, emotional, or sexual abuse.
Domestic violence is about one person in a relationship using a pattern of behaviors to control the other person. It can happen to people who are married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated, or dating.
If your partner repeatedly uses one or more of the following to control you;
YOU HAVE BEEN ABUSED!!
- pushing, hitting, slapping, choking, kicking, or biting
- threatening you, your children, other family members or pets
- threatening suicide to get you to do something
- using or threatening to use a weapon against you
- keeping or taking your paycheck
- puts you down or makes you feel bad
- forcing you to have sex or to do sexual acts you do not want or like
- keeping you from seeing your friends, family or from going to work
Remember threatened or actual physical violence may be illegal. Consider calling the police for help
Who Are The Victims?
ANYONE CAN BE A VICTIM! Victims can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status. Although both men and women can be abused, most victims are women. Children in homes where there is domestic violence are more likely to be abused and/or neglected. Most children in these homes know about the violence. Even if a child is not physically harmed, they may have emotional and behavior problems.
Since abuse can happen to anyone, people can have special concerns. All resources listed in this book understand your special concerns. They will listen to you and treat you with respect.
If you are a person of color ...
You may be afraid of prejudice. You may be afraid of being blamed for going out of your community for help.If you are a lesbian, gay, or transgendered person ...
You may be afraid of having people know about your sexual orientation.If you are physically or mentally challenged or elderly ...
You may depend on your abuser to care for you. You may not have other people to help you.If you are a male victim of abuse ...
You may be ashamed and scared that no one will believe you.If you are from another country ...
You may be afraid of being deported.If your religion makes it hard to get help ...
You may feel like you have to stay and not break up the family.If you are a teen ...
You could be a victim of abuse, or at risk if you are dating someone who:
- is very jealous and/or spies on you
- will not let you break off the relationship
- hurts you in any way, is violent, or brags about hurting other people
- puts you down or makes you feel bad
- forces you to have sex or makes you afraid to say no to sex
- abuses drugs or alcohol; pressures you to use drugs or alcohol
- has a history of bad relationships and blames it on others
It is hard for teens to leave their abuser if they go to the same school. They cannot hide. Gay and lesbian teens are very isolated. They can be scared they may have to reveal their sexual orientation.If you are a child in a violent home ...
If you think you are being abused, think about getting help. If your family or friends warn you about the person you are dating, think about getting help. Tell friends, family members or anybody you can trust. Call a resource listed in this book. There is help for you. You do not have to suffer in silence.
Most children in these homes know about the violence. Parents may think children do not know about the violence, but most of the time they do. Children often know what happened. They can feel helpless, scared and upset. They may also feel like the violence is their fault.If you are being stalked ...
Violence in the home is dangerous for children. Children live with scary noises, yelling and hitting. They are afraid for their parents and themselves. Children feel bad that they cannot stop the abuse. If they try to stop the fight, they can be hurt. They can also be hurt by things that are thrown or weapons that are used. Children are harmed just by seeing and hearing the violence.
Children in violent homes may not get the care they need. A parent who is being abused may be in too much pain to take good care of their child.
Children who live in violent homes can have many problems. They can have trouble sleeping. They can have trouble in school and getting along with others. They often feel sad and scared all the time. They may grow up feeling bad about themselves. These problems do not go away on their own. They can be there even as the child gets older.
There is help for children in violent homes. Call a resource listed in this book to talk to someone. This can also help if you grew up in a violent home.
Stalking is repeated harassment that makes you feel scared or upset. A stalker can be someone you know or a stranger. They often bother people by giving them attention they do not want. This can be unwanted phone calls or gifts, or following people by going to where they work or live. It can also be threats to you or your family.
People may think stalking is not dangerous because no one has been physically hurt. Stalking is serious. It is against the law. It often turns to physical violence.
There is help. Find out how to get a Personal Protection Order (PPO). You can also tell the police. You can make a case by keeping track of what the stalker does by:
- telling the police every time the stalker makes contact with you
- keeping a book with you at all times so that you can write down the stalkers contacts
- saving phone messages from the stalker
- saving letters and gifts from the stalker
- writing down information about the stalker, like the way they look, kind of car they drive and license plate number
STALKING IS A CRIME.
Cycle of Violence
Who Are The Abusers?
Abusers are not easy to spot. There is no 'typical' abuser. In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their partner and family. They often only abuse behind closed doors. They also try to hide the abuse by causing injuries that can be hidden and do not need a doctor.
Abuse is not an accident. It does not happen because someone was stressed-out, drinking, or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. Abusers have learned to abuse so that they can get what they want. The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological.
Abusers often have low self-esteem. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They may even blame the victim for causing the violence. In most cases, men abuse female victims. It is important to remember that women can also be abusers and men can be victims.
Cycle of Violence
- Any type of abuse occurs (physical/sexual/emotional)
- Abuser starts to get angry
- Abuse may begin
- There is a breakdown of communication
- Victim feels the need to keep the abuser calm
- Tension becomes too much
- Victim feels like they are 'walking on egg shells'
- Abuser may apologize for abuse
- Abuser may promise it will never happen again
- Abuser may blame the victim for causing the abuse
- Abuser may deny abuse took place or say it was not as bad as the victim claims
- Abuser acts like the abuse never happened
- Physical abuse may not be taking place
- Promises made during 'making-up' may be met
- Victim may hope that the abuse is over
- Abuser may give gifts to victim
The cycle can happen hundreds of times in an abusive relationship. Each stage lasts a different amount of time in a relationship. The total cycle can take anywhere from a few hours to a year or more to complete.
It is important to remember that not all domestic violence relationships fit the cycle. Often, as time goes on, the 'making-up' and 'calm' stages disappear.
Adapted from the original concept of: Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.
What Can I Do To Be Safe?
Call the policeIf you feel you are in danger from your abuser at any time, you can call 911 or your local police. HAVEN may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
Consider the following:
Get support from friends and family
- If you are in danger when the police come, they can protect you.
- They can help you and your children leave your home safely.
- They can arrest your abuser when they have enough proof that you have been abused.
- They can arrest your abuser if a personal protection order (PPO) has been violated.
- When the police come, tell them everything the abuser did that made you call.
- If you have been hit, tell the police where. Tell them how many times it happened. Show them any marks left on your body. Marks may take time to show up. If you see a mark after the police leave, call the police to take pictures of the marks. They may be used in court.
- If your abuser has broken any property, show the police.
- The police can give you information on domestic violence programs and shelters.
- The police must make a report saying what happened to you. Police reports can be used in court if your abuser is charged with a crime.
- Get the officers' names, badge numbers, and the report number in case you need a copy of the report.
- A police report can be used to help you get a PPO.
Tell your supportive family, friends and co-workers what has happened.Find a safe place
It is not fair. You should not have to leave your home because of what your abuser has done. But sometimes it is the only way you will be safe. There are shelters that can help you move to a different city or state. HAVEN can put you in touch with them.Get medical help
If you have been hurt, go to the hospital or your doctor. Domestic violence advocates (people to help you) may be called to the hospital. They are there to give you support. You may ask medical staff to call one for you.
Medical records can be important in court cases. They can also help you get a PPO. Give all the information about your injuries and who hurt you that you feel safe to give.
Special medical concerns
- Sometimes you may not even know you are hurt.
- What seems like a small injury could be a big one.
- If you are pregnant and you were hit in your stomach, tell the doctor. Many abusers hurt unborn children.
- Domestic violence victims can be in danger of closed head injuries. This is because their abusers often hit them in the head. If any of these things happen after a hit to the head, get medical care right away.Memory loss
Problems with eyesight
Headache that will not go away
Get a personal protection order
Plan what to do before or when you feel unsafe. See Personalized Safety Plan.
Letter from a battered woman
Please do not judge domestic violence victims. They may have to pay with their lives.
Dear court personnel, police personnel, domestic violence advocates, judges, attorneys, friends and family:
Please do not judge me. Please do not ask me why I stay. Please do not say that you will never let a man do this to you. You just do not understand my world and me. You do not understand how difficult my life is and you do not understand that I am looking to you for support and help.
Please try to understand my life is in constant turmoil. My life is not my own and I did not choose this life. (Even though you might think that I have created this abuse.) I choose to love someone who believes that he is entitled by society, family or heritage to treat me this way. He also believes that he will never be accountable for his actions or behavior. I am looking to you for help and support.
Here is my life. Daily, I am faced with mood swings and contempt. In fact, I most of the time, I am not even sure what “crime” I committed to deserve this abuse. So, every day, I walk on eggs hoping and praying that I will do everything in my life right and answer correctly if asked a question and respond immediately when I get a request. Yet, in this man’s mind, I am ALWAYS wrong and that is his reason for abusing me. If only I paid the bills right (I never got a late notice) or kept the house clean (Everyone comments they do not know how my house is so spotless), then he would not have to react this way. If only I did not behave like a child, then he would not have to punish me. I am looking to you for help and support.
Let’s talk about when things get tough. When the violence begins to escalate here is what I am faced with. I am the ruination of my teenage daughter because I did not agree with HIS child-rearing position. (She is 17 with a 3.9 index and applying to Ivy League schools.) I am “reaping what I sow” because my 2 year old son is throwing a temper tantrum. I cannot drive HIS car because I only know how to trash things. (I have been in one car accident as a result of weather conditions). His version of comprise is doing it his way and agreeing with him 100% and never asking him for anything because he has given me such a wonderful life. I am looking to you for help and support.
I can tell you that this man is a pillar of the community. He is educated and well liked and the judge and court personnel probably think that I am abusing the system. I can tell you that I am not. I am also an educated professional. (I could be your neighbor, your child’s friend’s mother or your co-worker) I am trying to be safe and stay alive. I am staying with him with a broken spirit, low self-esteem and no confidence because I want my children to have a mother. I am looking to you for help and support.
So I am asking you to be compassionate and open minded when I come file a complaint or ask the judge for a restraining order. If I withdraw the complaint, it is under duress and constant pressure. I really do not want to face him in the courtroom because I will have to pay for it later. I may have to pay with my life. I am looking to you for help and support.
A battered woman