If you are uncertain whether you or your children are being abused, take a moment to answer the following questions:
Does the person you love…
- Intimidate you, make you feel isolated or alone
- Frighten you with his/her temper
- "Track" all of your time
- Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful
- Discourage your relationships with family and friends
- Prevent you from working or attending group meetings or school
- Criticize you for little things such as your cooking or appearance
- Anger easily when drinking alcohol or taking drugs
- Control all the finances and force you to account in detail for what you spend
- Humiliate or degrade you in front of others by name-calling, putdowns, or accusations
- Make frequent threats to withhold money, have an affair, or take away the children
- Destroy personal property or sentimental items
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, restrain, bite or throw things at you or the children
- Use, or threaten to use, a weapon against you
- Threaten to hurt you or the children
- Force you to engage in sex against your will
- Give in because you are afraid of your partner’s reaction
- Apologize to yourself or others for your partner’s behavior when you are treated badly
- Experience a pattern of violence
If you answered "yes" to even a few of these questions, it’s time to get help!
There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself. The most important step is not ignoring the problem.
Important Steps You Can Take
- Call the police or sheriff. Assault, even by family members, is a crime. The police have information about shelters and other agencies that help victims of domestic violence.
- Leave, or have someone come stay with you. Go to a battered woman’s shelter. You can also call a crisis hotline in your community, or a health center, to locate a shelter. If you believe that you and your children are in danger, leave immediately.
- Get medical attention from your doctor or a hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries and keep detailed records.
- Contact your family court for information about a civil protection order that does not involve criminal charges or penalties.
- Talk to someone. Part of the abuser’s power comes from secrecy. Victims are often ashamed to let anyone know about intimate family problems. Go to a friend or neighbor, or call a domestic violence shelter to talk to a counselor.
- Plan ahead and know what you will do if you are attacked again. If you decide to leave, choose a place to go, and set aside some money. Put important papers together such as a marriage license, birth certificates, checkbooks, savings account books, social security cards and insurance information in a place where you can get them quickly.
- Learn to think independently. Try to plan for the future and set goals for yourself.