Are You Being Abused?

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How many of the statements below fit your life?

If more than 7 of them fit your life, you may be a victim of domestic violence. If more than 15 of the statements fit your life, you almost certainly are a victim of domestic violence. Remember, battering isn’t just about bruises. Battering includes a range of behaviors, from controlling your life to murdering you.


 My partner:

 Uses Emotional Abuse

  • Puts me down
  • Makes me feel bad about myself
  • Call me names
  • Makes me think I’m crazy
  • Plays mind games
  • Humiliates me
  • Makes me feel guilty
  • Treats me like a servant
  • Makes all the big decisions
  • Acts like the “Master of the castle”
  • Is the one to define men’s and women’s roles

 Uses Economic Abuse

  • Prevents me from getting or keeping a job
  • Makes me ask for money
  • Gives me an allowance
  • Takes my money
  • Doesn’t let me know about or have access to family income

 Uses Emotional Abuse

  • Puts me down
  • Makes me feel bad about myself
  • Call me names
  • Makes me think I’m crazy
  • Plays mind games
  • Humiliates me
  • Makes me feel guilty
  • Treats me like a servant
  • Makes all the big decisions
  • Acts like the “Master of the castle”
  • Is the one to define men’s and women’s roles

 Uses Coercion and Threats

  • Makes or carries out threats to do something to hurt me
  • Threatens to leave me, to commit suicide, to report me to welfare
  • Makes me drop charges
  • Makes me do illegal things

 Uses Physical Abuse

  • Hits me
  • Slaps me
  • Kicks me
  • Pushes me
  • Throws things at me
  • Physically restrains me
  • Pulls my hair
  • Cuts me
  • Otherwise hurts me

 Uses Sexual Abuse

  • Makes me have sex when I don’t want to
  • Makes me do things sexually that I don’t like
  • Is sexual with me in public in ways that make me uncomfortable
  • Touches me sexually when I don’t want this
  • Threatens to do something to hurt me or someone (something) else if I don’t cooperate sexually

 Uses Intimidation

  • Makes me afraid by using looks, gestures, or actions
  • Smashes things
  • Abuses Pets
  • Displays Weapons

 Uses Children

  • Makes me feel guilty about the children
  • Uses the children to relay messages
  • Uses visitation to harass me
  • Threatens to take the children away

 Uses Isolation

  • Controls what I do, who I see and talk to, what I read, & where I go
  • Limits my outside involvement
  • Uses jealousy to justify actions

 Minimizes, Denies, Blames

  • Makes light of the abuse and doesn’t take my concerns about it seriously
  • Says the abuse didn’t happen
  • Shifts responsibility for abusive behavior
  • Says I caused it

Steps to Ending Your Abuse

Planning for Your Safety

 Safety Before and During an Assault

  • When an attack has begun, escape if you can. Whenever you believe that you are in danger, leave your home and take your children, no matter the time of day or night. Go to a friend or relative’s house or a domestic violence shelter.
  • Defend and protect yourself. Later, take photos of your injuries.
  • Call for help. Scream loudly and continuously. You have nothing to be ashamed of – the batterer does.
  • During an argument, stay close to an exit and avoid the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
  • Practice getting out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevators, or stairwells would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready. Keep it in a secret but accessible place so you can leave quickly.
  • Identify neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Plan where you will go if you have to leave home, even if you don’t think you will.
  • Trust your own instincts and judgment. Whatever you need to do to survive is the right choice. You have the right to protect yourself.

 Safety When Living on Your Own

  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Call your local phone company to ask for an unlisted phone number. This service may be free of charge.
  • Create a safety plan with your children for times when you are not with them.
  • Inform your children’s school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him or her near your home.

 Safety With An Order of Protection

  • Keep a copy of your Order of Protection on you at all times.
  • Call police if your partner breaks the protective order.
  • Keep a diary detailing any contact, threats, messages, or letters. Save phone message tapes.
  • Think of alternative ways to stay safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Give copies of your Order of Protection to everyone listed on the order along with family, friends, and neighbors who are willing to help you.

 Safety on the Job and in Public

  • Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.
  • Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while you were on your way home.

 Your Safety and Emotional Health

  • If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
  • If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
  • Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
  • Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Decide whom you can call to talk freely and openly to give you the support you need.
  • Plan to attend a women’s or victim’s support group to gain support from others and learn more about yourself, domestic violence, and relationships.

Leaving Your Abuser

 Safety When Preparing to Leave

  • Open a savings account in your own name to establish your independence. Give the bank a safe address, such as a post office box or a work address. Think of other ways to increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Decide who you could stay with and who might loan you some money.
  • Keep the shelter’s phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergencies.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Leaving your batterer is the most dangerous time.
  • If you must leave your children, recover them as soon as possible. Courts tend to give custody to a parent who physically has the children. Seek legal advice or call a domestic violence agency if there are no current child custody orders.

 CHECKLIST: What You Need to Take With You When You Leave

Identification, driver’s license, car registration
Court orders, restraining orders
Birth certificates for you and your children
Police reports / documentation of previous abuse
Bank books and / or bank account numbers
Checkbooks, credit cards, ATM card
Lease / rental agreement, house deed
Medical, life, and auto insurance papers

House and car keys, pink slip
Small saleable objects
Address book
Medical records for all family members
Social Security card
Welfare identification
School and immunization records
Work permits / identification
Passport or “Green Card”
Divorce papers / marriage license
Children’s clothing and small toys
Spare eyeglasses or contact lenses

REMEMBER: These things are not as important as the lives of you and your children!