What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse can be physical, verbal, sexual, emotional, psychological, or economic. Batterers use threats, intimidation, isolation, and other behaviors to maintain power over their victims. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Teenagers, same sex couples, and men can also experience violence in relationships.
Develop a safety plan for the entire family, including your children and pet(s).
General Safety Tips
- Talk to your kids: Tell children that if the family experiences violence, their job is to keep themselves safe first. Teach children who to call and where to go for help, and identify in advance possible friends or family members who can help care for your pet(s).
- Get an order of protection, making sure to include children and pets, and keep proof of pet ownership with registration records, vet records, a microchip, and/or a current photo. Give a copy of any important legal or identification documents to a trusted friend or family member.
- Set aside as much emergency money (preferably cash) as possible.
- Pack an emergency bag and keep it hidden, but easily accessible. Make sure to include necessities for you and your children, as well as food, supplies, and records for your pet(s).
- Use an alternate cell phone such as a prepaid phone, that the abuser doesn’t know about and keep it in a safe place. Try not to use a shared or family cell phone.
- Use a safe computer. If sharing a computer with the abuser, consider going to a local library for free computer and internet use.
- Change passwords and pin numbers for bank, phone, email and other important accounts.
- Turn off location-based social media posts and avoid disclosing your location on Facebook and Twitter in order to make it more difficult for the abuser to monitor and track you.
- Give an extra set of house keys and car keys to a friend or family member that you can trust.
- Get out: If an argument erupts and you fear for your safety, don’t stay and argue/fight with the abuser. Leave immediately.
Domestic violence may happen at home behind closed doors, but signs of abuse are often apparent to family, friends, and members of victims’ communities. Don’t ignore the signs—get help. Whether you are being abused, or are a witness to abuse, please call our Domestic Violence Hotline: 888-279-2211 or 888-252-2890.
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URIPALS Awareness Tips
Pet-care plan: Identify in advance friends or family members who can help care for your pet(s).
- Pet-care plan: Identify in advance friends or family members who can help care for your pet(s).
- Animal ownership documents: Keep registration records, vet records, a microchip, and/or a current photo to prove ownership of your pets.
- Legal protection: Include pets on orders of protection. Give a copy of any legal documents to a trusted friend or family member.
- Safety supplies: Pack an emergency bag and keep it hidden, but easily accessible. Make sure to include food, supplies, and records for pets in the emergency bag.
98 percent of domestic violence victims experience economic abuse. With limited resources and options, victims of abuse frequently face a double-edged sword—stay in domestic violence situations, or leave and risk facing homelessness and poverty.
From running up debt on victims’ credit cards to keeping them on a strict budget/allowance, batterers use economic—often along with physical, sexual, and emotional—abuse as another means of controlling victims and preventing them from leaving violent relationships. Moreover, abusers often restrict victims’ ability to obtain or keep a job in order to prevent them from achieving financial independence with as many as 50 percent of abuse victims reporting that they lost their job due to domestic violence, and more than 50 percent of victims reporting harassment at work.
Causing ruined credit scores, identity or property theft, legal issues, and erratic employment histories, economic abuse often continues to impact victims’ future employment, housing, and financial security even after they have left the abusive relationship. In fact, seven out of eight women who go back to the abuser after leaving a domestic violence situation return because of financial pressures they face as a result of economic abuse.
If you are in a domestic violence situation, it is important to make financial planning a part of your general safety planning. The tips below are an important first step in ensuring that victims of economic abuse protect themselves, their families, and their financial futures.
5 Tips for Domestic Violence Victims in Economically Abusive Situations:
- Financial records: Keep a copy of any important financial or personal documents—bank statements, birth and marriage certificates, ownership documents for shared assets—in a safe place outside of your home—with friends, family, or a secret location.
- Extra money: Set aside funds, even a small amount, with a trusted person or in a secret location to ensure a degree of financial security upon leaving an abusive situation.
- Credit report: Credit reports are traceable, so get a copy of yours before leaving an abusive household—free once a year from any of the three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Report any fraudulent or disputed charges.
- Create a budget: Look into the cost of housing, food, and other living expenses so that you know what to expect when you leave your relationship to live on your own.
- Protect your identity: Change any PIN codes or passwords, and be careful about sharing your personal or financial information on the internet. Also, make sure the abuser can’t track your online activities—including research on financial independence.
To learn more about economic abuse or to get help, please visit www.urinyc.org or call 1-800-621-4673.
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