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, or psychological. 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).
- 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.