Are you (or someone you know) in an abusive relationship?

Click here to download and print the handout version of this article

Abuse has many faces.
Recognize any?

If he pushes, punches, chokes, kicks, Burns, bites, spits, shoots, or stabs you…

If he engages in unwanted touching, sexual name-calling, uses violence with sex, is unfaithful, or forces you to have sex…

If he uses jokes to demean, constantly criticizes, labels you as “crazy”, “stupid”, a “bitch” or “whore”, plays mind games, or humiliates you…
If he threatens to harm, leave, kidnap the children, commit suicide, report you to immigration/ welfare, forces you to drop criminal charges or commit illegal acts…
If he uses looks, action, and gestures to intimidate you, destroys property, abuses pets, displays weapons or stalks you…
If he doesn’t allow you to see or speak with family or friends, denies you access to the car, or limits your contact with the outside world…
If he makes light of the abuse, denies it happened, or blames others for abuse…

If he prevents you from getting/keeping a job, denies you access to family income, gives you an allowance, makes you ask for money and account for all spending…

“The Cycle of Violence”

Tension building Phase: She feels as though she “is walking on eggshells”or waiting for the “bomb to drop.” He is edgy, moody & easily agitated; there is an air of heightened anxiety.

Explosive/Acute Phase: This is the most violent stage: concentrated, intense physical or verbal abuse; an explosion of the tension described.

Honeymoon Phase: He says, “I’m sorry, I’ll never do it again.” He may blame her for his actions with, “If you wouldn’t…I wouldn’t get angry.” He wants to ‘make up’. Her feelings range from guilt to confusion to anger; believes him & the cycle continues.

Then the cycle repeats itself.

Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior intended to exert power & total control in an intimate relationship. It’s REAL…and it’s a CRIME.

To be SAFE — it’s important to develop Safety Plans.
If you can’t do ‘everything’ listed, do as much as you can.
Think of it as a Circle of Safety.

Safety while Staying with an Abuser

  • Identify clues of oncoming violence & put into practice avoidance tactics that worked before.
  • Attempt to remove from the house or hide any dangerous weapons.
  • Try not to be trapped in any dangerous places in the house. Have a safe place with a door that locks on the inside for the children & teach them how to dial 911.
  • Have an escape route planned & study it routinely; make sure you have a daily routine that gets you out of the house (like picking up mail, walking the dog, taking out garbage, watering the lawn.)
  • Tell someone about it; have neighbors ready to call 911 if they hear yelling/ fighting /objects thrown.

Safety when Leaving an Abuser

  • Get a cellular phone– keep it handy & private. Calling 911 is free ( contracts/plans not needed.)
  • Keep prepared — keep an easy to reach small, packed bag with a change of clothes, money & emergency phone numbers, an extra set of keys & copies of important, personal documents (birth certificates, social security card, driver license & registration, medical/dental insurance, marriage license, medical records, etc.) This should be done for everyone you are taking with you.
  • Plan ahead who you can tell of your plan and accept their help.
  • Have legal information under control regarding your vehicle, children… know what you can or cannot do according to the law.
  • Consider your transportation carefully: where to go; know the location of a shelter; the children involved and their schooling,(for example, should they be transferred or not.)

Safety After you Leave an Abuser

  • Try to be alone as little as possible when running errands, leaving work, etc.
  • Alter your routines: don’t keep the same routines or habits that your abuser may know about.
  • Keep your cellular phone handy– make sure the battery is always charged.
  • If you have protective orders or restraining orders, make sure your abiding by their rules too. Give the police copies of these.
  • Secure your new home: locks for windows and doors, caller ID, inform the police in your area and talk to the teachers at your children’s school(s).
  • Get the help you need for your emotional safety too.

Police/Emergency: 911

Tell someone:a trusted family member/friend, your doctor or a counselor, church or religious group, seek legal help through Legal Aid or a lawyer.

Nationwide Domestic Violence Hotline:

This National Domestic Violence Hotline can link you to resources that can help — including shelters, counseling centers, and legal service providers in your community.

CALL TOLL FREE: 1 (800) 799-SAFE (7233) / 1 (800) 787-3224 (TTY for the Deaf)

This article and handout courtesy of The National Self-Defense Institute’s Terri Harris.