If you are experiencing physical, emotional, financial, and sexual abuse from an intimate partner—or even threats—know that you deserve to be safe and free from it. Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is unfortunately common, affecting up to one in three women nationally.
Here are some questions to consider from The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:
Does your partner…
- Embarrass or make fun of you in front of friends or family? Put down your accomplishments or goals?
- Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions? Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
- Tell you that you are nothing without them?
- Treat you roughly: grab, push, pinch, shove, or hit you? Threaten or abuse your pets?
- Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
- Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
- Make you feel like there “is no way out” of the relationship?
- Prevent you from doing things you want, like spending time with your friends or family?
- Control you by controlling all household income and expenses, including assets that you brought into the relationship or earn on an ongoing basis?
- Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
- Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
- Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
- Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
- Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
- Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
- Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up or don’t know how you would support yourself or your children?
- Fear that your partner would take your children or kill you and even your children?
It is important to learn the warning signs and take the following steps to ensure your safety.
You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) to find local resources and safe shelters.
Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down the other person, it is abuse.
Be aware that if your partner has access to guns, has choked or strangled you, has threatened to kill you or your children, or has threatened suicide, you could be in serious danger, and it is important to talk to a hotline advocate or 911 if it is happening immediately.
Gather all important documents for you and your child(ren), like IDs, Social Security cards, birth certificates, etc. Keep them near you and ready to grab quickly should you decide to leave.
Delete call records and internet histories that show you are seeking help, use an internet phone service so calls aren’t on your phone bill, or use devices that aren’t monitored.
Make up a “safety word” for you and your children and tell another support person, and arrange daily check-ins with her or him. A safety word can be a signal that it’s time to pack up and leave, or a support person can contact some help.
By Joyce McCauley-Benner