Is This Abuse?
Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of ethnicity, race, age, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, education, or sexual orientation. Domestic violence includes physical violence, but it does not always leave bruises. It also includes things like name calling, put downs, extreme jealously, controlling where the partner goes and who they talk to, not allowing that partner to spend time with friends and family, and controlling the finances. It includes making threats to the partner, children, pets, family, and friends..
IS THIS ABUSE?
DOES YOUR PARTNER…
- Hit, kick, shove, or injure you?
- Use weapons/objects against you or threaten you?
- Force or coerce you to engage in unwanted sexual acts?
- Threaten to hurt you or others, have you deported, disclose your sexual orientation, or other personal information?
- Steal or destroy your belongings?
- Constantly criticize you, call you names, or put you down?
- Deny your basic needs such as food, clothing, housing, or medical and physical assistance?
- Control what you do and who you want to see?
- Make you feel afraid?
If you answered “yes” to any of the questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence.
I THINK A FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER IS BEING ABUSED
WHAT TO SAY AND WHAT NOT TO SAY
- Start the conversation by saying “I care about you,” or “I am worried for your safety.”
- Point out specific behaviors or incidents that concern you. For example, “I saw your partner grab your arm very hard and march you across the room.”
- Don’t make blaming statements. “Why don’t you just leave?” or “I would never let someone put their hands on me.”
- Don’t give advice, instead say “What do you think you should do?” or “You are the one who knows your situation best.”
- Don’t tell others what your friend or family member has told you unless you have permission. Instead encourage the victim to talk to others that may be able to help; advocates, neighbors, coworkers, faith leaders, other family and friends, etc.
- Remain calm. If you react strongly and insist that your friend or family member call the police immediately, for example, they may shut down.
- Offer to help connect them with resources; let them know that calling a domestic violence program (commonly referred to as a “shelter”) does not mean they have to go to shelter or leave their partner immediately unless they choose to.
- Leaving an abusive relationship can be extremely dangerous. Creating a safety plan with a domestic violence advocate is essential to leaving an abusive relationship safely.
- This person may not be ready to leave the relationship. Say “I will be here for you even if I don’t understand all of your decisions.”
- Do not push printed materials on your friend or family member; these can be found by the abuser and can increase the victim’s difficulty or danger.
- Taking a non-judgemental position as a reliable resource is your best defense against the abuser’s efforts to separate your friend or family member from your support.