Learn about Domestic Violence

Home   The Facts   Learn about Domestic Violence

Types of Abuse


kicking, punching, shoving, slapping, pushing, and any other acts which hurt your body


Calling you vulgar names, criticizing your body parts or sensuality, forced or pressured sexual acts, including rape


Assaults against self-esteem


Name-calling, threats, put-downs


Causing you to feel as if you are “going crazy”


Stalking is repetitive harassment, often including the following of another person with the intention of causing anxiety or fear. Stalking can include: following someone, written or verbal threats, repeated and unwanted phone calls/emails/texts/instance messages, vandalizing personal property, and sending threatening or harassing letters.


Attacking your spiritual or religious beliefs


Controlling and manipulating you by threatening your economic status and basic needs


Threatening to “out” you to people who do not know your sexual orientation


Using your immigration status and fear of deportation to control you

 Destructive Acts

Actual or threatened assault of your property or pets to scare you

Characteristics of an Abuser

 Why do victims stay in abusive relationships?

  • By leaving, victims may lose economic security and face poverty and homelessness.
  • Their family, friends, or church group may admonish and even disown them for their decision to leave.
  • Their children may be taken from them.
  • Abusive partners may promise to go to counseling, change their ways, and never hurt their partners again
  • Victims may face greater injury and even death at the hands of their partner when they try to leave.
  • You fear you will be beaten more severely. Your batterer has threatened to find and kill or harm you, your children, and your family.
  • You depend on the batterer for shelter, food, and other necessities.
  • You have no one to talk to who understands and believes you.
  • You believe your children need two parents, and you don’t want to raise them alone.
  • You want to keep the family together and live up to your religious commitment to remain with your partner.


 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 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 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!


Safety Plan

  • Warn children to stay out of the adults’ conflicts
  • Make a list of people the children can trust and talk to when they are feeling unsafe (neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends)
  • Decide ahead of time on a safe place the children can go when they feel unsafe
  • Teach children how to use police and other emergency phone numbers

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:

 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

 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