Understanding Domestic Violence
Domestic violence happens when one person in a relationship uses a consistent pattern of “coercive control” to maintain power over their dating partner, intimate partner, co-parent, spouse or “ex.” The abusive person uses harmful tactics that can be very dangerous when they are combined with physical and sexual violence and threats.
People who are abusive often tell the abused person that the violence is their fault, or that they caused it, or that they are crazy. Helpline advocates
How Does Domestic Violence Affect Children?
Children who experience violence or other forms of abuse against one parent by the other parent or step-parent are almost always harmed by it, even when they don’t actually see the abuse. As a result of the abuse, children can experience health problems, depression, anxiety, fear, guilt, worry for the future, problems with being aggressive towards other children and their own family members, difficulty concentrating and learning, challenges developing friendships and many other forms of harm.
DVHopeline advocates can help you learn how to talk to your kids about what they have experienced and how to support their healing and resilience.
Pathways to Freedom from Abuse
Freedom from abuse is a complex journey. Each person has to find the path that works best for them. Some people stay with their partners and find ways to reduce the harm in their relationship, while others leave their relationship to try to be free from abuse. For many survivors, having a supportive community and information about options helps to increase their sense of safety and confidence.
The DVHopeline welcomes all survivors, wherever they are on their journey, and whether they choose to stay in their relationship or leave it. Our advocates are here to help with emotional support, safety planning, information, and referrals to community resources.
Why People Are Abusive
People become abusive for many reasons. They may have grown up with abuse in their own family, where they learned that asserting power and control is the way to get what you want in an intimate relationship. They may have experienced institutional violence, including racism, state sponsored violence, poverty and mass incarceration. They may believe that their role in the relationship or family requires them to always “be in charge.” They may have learned messages about how men and women should act from their communities and the media that reinforced the use of power and control in relationships.
DVHopeline advocates can offer information about the dynamics of abusive relationships.
Supporting Friends, Family & Others Dealing With Abuse
When a friend or family member is being abused, people offer wonder, “Why don’t they leave?” It is difficult, frustrating and sometimes scary to see someone we care about being abused. It can be hard to watch a person leave an abusive relationship and then go back again, sometimes repeatedly.
People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, and if your friend or family member is staying, it is because that seems like the choice they have to make. Asking “why don’t you just leave?” is never helpful to the person being abused.