Frequently Asked Questions of Abuse

Frequently Asked Questions of Abuse

(Click on each question for an answer)

Is abuse a momentary loss of temper?

Domestic violence is not an isolated, one-time event, but a pattern of repeated behaviors. Assaults are repeated against the same survivor by the same perpetrator. These assaults occur in different forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, and economic. While physical assaults might occur infrequently, other parts of the pattern can occur daily. The use of these other tactics is effective because one episode builds upon another and sets the stage for future episodes of abuse.

CLICK ON QUESTIONS FOR ANSWERS

Is abuse a crime?

Abuse is a crime in every state. The laws vary from state to state.

Visit Women’s Law Initiative’s website (www.womenslaw.org) for more information.

But what can I say?

If you are afraid for someone going through abuse, you can say:

"I am afraid for your safety. I am afraid for the safety of your children. I am here for you if and when you are ready to leave. You don’t deserve to be abused. Let’s go talk to DOVE."

What can I do to help someone I think is in this situatuon?

You can help to support survivors in their efforts to end the violence in their lives. Don’t blame them for the abuse.  Hold people with abusive behaviors accountable for their violence. Let them know that the community condemns this behavior. Think about the ways that society has accepted the use of violence by men to control women’s behavior. Re-examine your own attitudes about it. Teach young people that violence is not acceptable. Examine and discuss how TV programs and movies glamorize violence. Listen without judging people in abusive relationships. Allow survivors to make their own decisions. Guide survivors to community services for professional support. Focus on their strengths rather than shortcomings already highlighted in the relationship. Help them make a safety plan, including finding a safe place to stay. If you have seen an assault in progress, call the police.

How many people does domestic violence impact?

More than 1 in 4 women (27%) and more than 1 in 10 men (12%) have reported experiencing sexual violence, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner and suffered significant impacts such as PTSD and injury as a result. On average, more than 3 women are murdered by their partner in this country every single day. Domestic violence affects people of all ages, sexes, cultures, religions, professions and income levels, yet remains widely under-reported.

Does domestic violence just happen to certain people?

Intimate partner violence occurs among all types of families, regardless of income, profession, religion, ethnicity, educational level or race. That low-income people are over-represented in calls to police, shelters and social services may be due to a lack of other resources at their disposal.

Is drug and alcohol use connected to domestic violence?

While drugs and alcohol are often present in domestic violence situations, they are not a cause of violence and abuse between partners. However, the presence of drugs and/or alcohol can make a domestic violence situation become much worse and has been shown to increase risk of fatality for victims. Frequently, people use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for their abusive behavior. Remember, it’s an excuse. And there is no excuse for violence.

Leaving is the best plan, right?

Leaving an abusive partner can be the most dangerous time in a relationship. Women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the two weeks after leaving than at any other time during the relationship. 75% of domestic violence homicides and assaults occur during this time. This is a powerful deterrent to leaving. Often a person who leaves is tracked by the abuser and threatened with harm if the person does not return. The nature of domestic violence also encourages conditions that keep a person economically dependent and socially isolated.

Why don't they just leave?

Why don't they just leave?

 

The better question here is, “Why does he (she) abuse?” The reasons are complex and varied.

Love 

Many survivors love the person who is using abusive behaviors. Survivors sometimes want to stay in the relationship AND the abuse to end.

Fear 

Fear of heightened abuse and fear of the unknown. 40% of all female homicides in the country are attributed to women leaving abusive partners.

Children 

The challenge of raising children alone and the threat by abusers that women might lose custody keeps them from leaving.

Guilt 

Victims sometimes believe the abusive person is sick or needs their help. They also are told by some family and friends they should stay for the sake of their marriage or children.

Lack of Resources 

Many people with abusive behaviors monitor or control the finances.

Promises to Change

 Abusive relationships tend to move in cycles. Following a fight, abusers often apologize and promise it will never happen again.

Dependency 

Many women are still taught to be passive and dependent on men. They also worry that leaving a relationship is a form of admitting they failed. 

Immigrants and Spanish Speakers 

Such women often are isolated from the community and believe they cannot turn to police for help. Even legal immigrants are told by abusers they will be deported or lose their children if they report the violence.

What are some of the dilemmas in leaving an abusive relationship?

Leaving a violent relationship is not a simple matter of deciding you don’t want to be hit. Each factor must be weighed carefully because only the abuser can stop the violence.

Physical

Possible Risks If She Stays:

Physical injury. He can continue to hit and injure her.

Death. He might kill her or the children.

STDs/HIV. She might have no choice regarding safe-sex practices. He might sexually assault her.

 

Possible Risks if She Leaves:

Physical injury. He might continue to injure her.

He also might be inclined to escalate the violence after she leaves.

Death. Leaving doesn’t ensure that he won’t find her,

and it might increase the chance she or the children will be killed. 

 

Children 

Possible Risks if She Stays:

Physical injury or psychological harm.

Children can witness violence, be targets themselves, or be hurt trying to protect others.

Loss of children. He could make false allegations about her of child neglect or abuse. Failure-to-protect arguments could be used to remove children or terminate parental rights.

Possible Risks if She Leaves:

Physical injury or psychological harm. Children can witness violence, be targets themselves, or be hurt trying to protect others. They might be at greater risk during visitation. Lack of visitation also might affect the children. Loss of children. He could legally gain custody or just take the children. He could make false allegations or child neglect or abuse. She won’t have the money necessary for legal representation in a custody/visitation suit.

 

Financial

 Possible Risks if She Stays:

Standard of living. He might control the money and give her little to live on. He could lose or quit his job. He might make her lose or quit her job.

Loss of income/job. He could keep her from working, limit how much she works. He might sabotage her efforts to find a job or her success in a job or training program.

Loss of housing. She could be evicted because of property damage he has done. Loss of or damage to possessions. He might destroy things of importance to her.

Possible Risks if She Leaves:

Standard of living. She might now have to live on less money, relying solely on her own income. She might have to move out of her home and community.

Loss of income/job. She might have to quit her job and raise her children as a single parent. He might sabotage her efforts to find a job or succeed in a training program.

Loss of housing. She might have to move out, leave town or go into hiding. She might lose her home in a divorce. Loss of or damage to possessions. He might destroy things of importance or value to her. She might have to leave things behind if she flees.

 

Family and Friends 

Possible Risks if She Stays: 

Physical injury. He might threaten or injure family or friends, particularly if they try to offer assistance. Loss of support. They might want her to leave and might stop supporting her if she stays. They might be afraid of him or not like him. He might keep her isolated from them.

Possible Risks if She Leaves:

Physical injury. He might threaten or injure family or friends, particularly if they try to offer her assistance.

Loss of support. They might not want her to leave and might stop supporting her.

 

Psychological 

Possible Risks if She Stays:

Psychological harm. Verbal, emotional and physical attacks will continue to affect her.

Substance abuse. She might use drugs or alcohol to help her cope with the emotional and physical pain.

Suicide. He might threaten or commit suicide.

Possible Risks if She Leaves:

Psychological harm. He might have continued access to her, particularly if they have children in common. Substance abuse. She might use drugs or alcohol to help her cope with her new situation and past abuse. Suicide.

He might threaten to commit suicide.

Is mental illness a cause of domestic violence?

Many people suffer from mental health challenges. Few of them abuse their partners. Some mental health concerns can cause people to be violent, but they will often be violent in all of their relationships, not just with their intimate partners. It’s important to remember that mental illness should never be considered a cause of domestic violence.

Is the victim ever to blame?

Those who choose to abuse always have a choice. Abusers use abusive tactics to gain and maintain power and control. No matter a person’s background or situation, no one deserves to be abused by someone they love.

Is it actually domestic violence if there's no physical abuse?

Violence and abuse show up differently for every survivor. While abusers frequently use physical and sexual abuse against spouses and partners to maintain dominance and power, abusers also frequently use psychological, emotional and economic abuse tactics to maintain control.