Domestic Violence (DV): Signs, Symptoms, Safety & Solutions
“All she ever wanted was warm hugs, unpredictable kisses, and unforgettable laughter. What she got was nightmare”.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence, also known as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), Battering, and “Wife Beating” can happen to anyone. DV does not discriminate. It does not matter what race you are, how old you are, what religion you practice, or what your gender and sexual orientation may be. Domestic Violence is abuse, period.
An Abuser is a person who uses intimidation, threatens violence, uses violent and controlling behaviors. A Victim is a person in which the violent acts are directed at. A Survivor, once a victim, is a person who has realized their value and self- worth, put their life and their children’s lives first, and faced their fears by leaving an abusive relationship.
“50% of a great relationship is how you treat someone. The other 50% is having the confidence & ability to communicate the treatment you want in return. Get into the habit of asking yourself, ‘Does this support the life I’m trying to create?’ You can spend minutes, hours, days, weeks, even months over-analyzing a situation; trying to put the pieces back together, justifying what could’ve, would’ve happened…or you can just leave the pieces on the floor and move on”.
IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Don’t listen to anyone who says the abuse is your fault. The batterer is the one with the problem, not you.
It is NEVER okay to threaten, hurt or abuse anyone. No one deserves to be abused, NO ONE!
DV includes 4 main categories: Physical Abuse (hitting, punching, kicking, pushing, etc). Psychological and Verbal Abuse (name calling, constant criticism and blame, controlling behaviors, isolation from friends, family and activities, unrealistic expectations, jealousy). Sexual Abuse (forcing unwanted touching, fondling, and sexual intercourse against your will and permission). “NO” MEANS “NO”! Just because you are in a dating relationship or married, that does not give your partner free access to your body. “NO” MEANS “NO”, PERIOD. Financial Abuse (controlling all the finances and money in the relationship).
REMEMBER – IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT! Do what you’ve got to do to make you happy. Never underestimate the importance of your health, happiness and safety. And never, ever apologize for putting yourself first.
Here are some things you can do:
- Make a Safety Plan. Keep a copy at home where the batterer can’t find it. Keep a copy at work, at a trusting friend’s house or with a family member. Make sure it includes Emergency Numbers.
- Make a list of family, friends, professionals who could help you in an emergency. Ask them what they are willing to do to help you (providing transportation, financial assistance, shelter, contacting the police, etc.)
- Pack 2 emergency bags: Keep one of them in a safe place that you can access if you need to leave immediately; Keep the other bag elsewhere- A neighbor’s house, at work, with a family member). Make sure it includes some clothes, important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, Protection Order, bank accounts/ statements, marriage certificate, insurance policies, any medication you or your children take regularly, an extra set of house and car keys, and your Safety Plan with emergency phone numbers.
- Educate yourself on Domestic Violence. Reach out and talk to a DV Advocate.
- Join a support group. You will gain support and realize you are not alone.
- Get Counseling with a therapist that understands Domestic Violence.
- Research and know how to get a Protection Order.
- Find out about agencies and programs in your area that can help you find safe housing/ shelter, get food, clothes, medical care, childcare, and employment.
- Plan to leave. Have a Safety Plan in place.
VIOLENCE IS AGAINST THE LAW! KNOW YOUR RIGHTS!
Police stations, hospitals, and fire stations are always open. You can go there if you are needing immediate safety.
COMPUTER SAFETY: If you are unable to leave an abusive relationship, be mindful about “Computer Safety”. If your abuser can access your computer, they can see what websites you have visited, what documents you have written, read your e-mails, and so forth. The best thing you can do to protect your safety and that of your children’s is to try and do your research on a computer at the library. This is a much safer option, especially if you are planning to open your own bank account.
“In the end, only 3 things matter: How much you loved, how gently you lived, and how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you”. -Budda
For more information or help, here are some resources that can assist you:
National Domestic Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 and www.ndvh.org
Northwest Network of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse: 206-568-7777
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are at and change the ending”.