Sanctuary and Serenity

What is Domestic Violence?

Posted on: April 4, 2010


What is Domestic Violence?

Abusive situations:

No one has the right to abuse another person.  If you find yourself in a situation where you do not feel safe, there are steps you can take, and help you can receive!

Definition:

Domestic violence is an escalating pattern of abuse in which one partner in a relationship controls the other through force, intimidation, or implied/threats of force.  Violence refers to physical, sexual, mental/emotional, economic, and verbal abuse/assault.

Symptoms of Assault:

* Are you scared of your partner’s temper and do you change your behaviour so you won’t make him upset or angry?
* Do you see your family and friends less and less since you met your partner?
* Have you lost a job due to your partner?
* Do you have to ask permission to do things?
* Are you afraid of expressing your opinion or of telling your partner what your needs are?
* Have you been forced to have sex against your will?
* Do you do what you are told, just to avoid trouble?
* Has your partner humiliated you in front of other people?
* Have you been hit, slapped, shoved, locked up, tied up, burnt, threatened, kicked, bitten, punched, choked by your partner?  Has your partner ever threatened to use a weapon against you?
* Have your children ever been hurt or threatened by your partner?
* When something happens, does your partner promise never to do it again?

Everyone has the right to live in a home free from violence and abuse!  If any of these things are happening to you, you might be the victim of domestic abuse.  Domestic abuse seldom gets better by itself.  In most cases, it escalates until someone gets hurt or killed.  You should seek help immediately, and have a safety plan…tell someone…get counseling!

If You Decide to Stay:

If you are not at the point where you are ready to leave, you should have a safety plan!

Here are some suggestions to help ensure your safety in an emergency situation:

* Keep a small bag hidden in a car, or at family or friends, containing a change of clothes for you and your children.
* Keep a spare set of keys, and some money hidden somewhere safe.
* Make copies of all important documents.
* Extra medications you and your children might need.
* Emergency phone numbers…police, battered women’s hotlines and shelters, friends, family, 12-step sponsor, etc.
* You might want to ensure you do not provoke the situation (This does not mean you deserve the abuse, it means that sometimes we fight back, or respond to the abuser, which may cause the situation to escalate.)
* Pre-arrange a safe place to stay, away from the situation.
* Ask the police what your options are.

Other Preparations Prior to Leaving:

* Open a savings account and/or credit card in your name to establish or increase your independence.
* Obtain a Protective Order.  Keep it with you at all times, inform co-workers, friends, and neighbors.
* Call the police immediately if the abuser breaks the Order.
* Devise a code word to use with children, family, friends, and neighbors for when you need the police.
* Ask “safe” neighbors to call police if they hear a disturbance from your home.
* Practice getting out of your home safely!
* Review your safety plan as often as is possible.

Safety During an Explosive Situation:

* If an argument is unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit.
* Stay out of rooms where weapons might be available…bathroom, kitchen, bedroom.
* Get out of your home as safely as possible.
* Use your instincts and judgment.  If the situation is very dangerous, you might have to consider giving the offender what they want, to calm them.  You have the right to protect yourself, and your children.

Always remember:

* NO ONE deserves to be hit or threatened.
* Leaving your abuser if the most dangerous time.
* You and your children deserve to be safe!!!

No one knows your situation like you do…protect yourself.  First, and foremost, your safety and that of any children.  No one can tell you that you must leave a situation, or a relationship that is unhealthy.  You must make this decision for you.  But you can find ways to protect yourself and those you love.  We all deserve respect…from ourselves as well as from others.  We all have the right to be safe.  Look after yourself, be safe.

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