Domestic Violence: Finding the Strength to Move On
Domestic violence takes on many forms—one form is a confrontation between household members involving physical or emotional harm, sexual assault, or fear. There is no “typical” victim, and domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. One out of five children are exposed to intimate partner violence, and 90% of these eyewitness the violence. You are not alone.
Signs of Domestic Violence
Here are some things you may notice that could be a sign that your loved one is being physically or mentally abused:
- He puts her down.
- He loses his temper, strikes or breaks objects.
- He is extremely jealous.
- She is quiet when he is around and seems afraid to make him angry.
- She has unexplained injuries.
- She has casually mentioned his violent behavior, but dismissed what happened as “not a big deal.”
- She cancels plans at the last minute.
- He controls her finances, her behavior, what she wears, and her social life.
- Her child is frequently upset, very quiet, or withdrawn and won’t say why.
Creating a Safety Plan for Protection
He says he’ll stop. I think he’ll change. Maybe it’s me. These are just a few things your loved one might be telling herself. The first step to breaking the pattern of domestic violence is telling someone. Many women struggle to share what’s happening with someone outside the home. If you know that a friend or loved one is the victim of abuse, here’s what you can do to help:
- Be reassuring. Tell your loved one it is not her fault, and that you believe her. Encourage your loved one that she deserves better.
- Call and check on her often. Ask if it’s safe for her to talk. She may be around her abuser and unable to talk. Avoid sending emails that discuss the situation, as her emails may be censored by her abuser.
- Tell her that she might be in danger. Help her create a getaway plan.
- Encourage her to memorize the domestic violence hotline number.
- Avoid telling her what to do. This individual is already being emotionally or physically controlled by an abuser. She has to make the decision to leave on her own.
- Be supportive…no matter what. She might try to leave the situation and be unsuccessful multiple times.
Important Things You Should Keep in Mind
Dealing with domestic abuse can take a toll on your loved one emotionally, as well as physically. To help her cope, here are some important things to remind her:
- She is not to blame.
- She deserves to be treated with respect.
- She deserves to feel safe.
- She deserves to live a happy life.
- She is not alone.
- Her abuser will not change unless he takes full responsibility and seeks help.
- She shouldn’t believe her abuser when he or she promises to stop.
- She shouldn’t let fear of the unknown keep her in a dangerous situation.
Resources You Can Use
There is help. WomenHealth.gov recommends the following for you or a loved one:
- Calling the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Calling hotlines. Learn more about different help hotlines. Hotlines provide support and resources. They also can help you create a safety plan for leaving an abuser.
- Talking to a health care professional. Doctors, nurses, and counselors can offer physical aid, emotional support, and resources. Go to a hospital emergency room if you need immediate help for injuries.
- Contacting a shelter or rape crisis center. Shelters provide food, housing, and other types of help. You can find shelters and services by contacting a hotline or through state resources.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for help and additional resources.