Keeping Yourself and Others Safe
Warning Signs Intimate Partner Violence
- Using insults, intimidation, or humiliation.
- Extreme jealousy, insecurity, or controlling behavior.
- Isolation from friends and family.
- Unwanted sexual contact of any kind.
- Explosive temper or unusual moodiness.
- Constantly monitoring social media activities or location.
- Invasion of privacy.
- Showing up unannounced.
- Leaving unwanted items, gifts, or flowers.
- Abusing drugs or alcohol.
- Threating or causing physical violence.
Break the silence
You may feel ashamed of having a partner who abuses you and is violent, and because of that feeling you don't tell anyone because of that shame.
Your partner's violent behavior is not your fault. An abusive partner may not want you to talk to other people because they want to be in control of you. But you shouldn't keep quiet.
Choosing to speak up about what you're going through is brave. Staying silent can put you and your children at risk of more harm. Talk to someone: a friend, a family member, a coworker, the RSVP Center, or Rape and Abuse Crisis Service (RACS). It may surprise you how relieved you feel once you break the silence.
Don't go through this alone. Dealing with dating and domestic violence every day is stressful. Talk to the RSVP Center on campus or RACS. Stay in touch with trusted friends and family and talk to them about how you're doing. Acknowledge to yourself and to them how scary it is. Connect with a group or organization of domestic and family violence survivors, as they'll be more able to relate to what you're going through.
Don't blame yourself
You may think that the abuse and violence are your fault, but it isn't. It's never your fault. Dating and domestic violence is not caused by something you did or didn't do. It's your partner, former partner, or perpetrator's choice to be abusive or violent - and this is a crime. What they are doing is against the law. It's unlikely that the abuser will stop their violent and abusive behavior without professional help and support.
Recognize your strength
You are clever, and you are a survivor. You would have to be to survive in a violent and abusive relationship every day. Your abilities and skills have kept you going. The way you've coped and worked to keep yourself from harm are signs that you are a capable person. You can draw on your strengths to create a more positive future for yourself.
Make a safety plan
Safety planning is thinking about how to stay safe while living with intimate partner violence, and the actions you can take if you need to leave in a hurry. Read about how to make a safety plan for you and your children, or talk to RACS who can help you create one.
Know your rights
You have a right to be safe and respected, and live without fear of physical or sexual assault, threats of violence or stalking. You do not have to live with violence and abuse. It's against the law and the abuser is committing a crime.
You also may apply for an ex-parte or order of protection against the abusive partner or ex-partner. You don’t have to do it alone. Advocates at RACS are available 24-hours a day to help you complete the paperwork and go to court with you.
Look after yourself
Living every day with dating or domestic violence is stressful and can be overwhelming. The situation can cause you to feel anxiety, have panic attacks, have depression, and think of ending it all by committing suicide. Try to find a safe place for some time out. Find a supportive counselor at the Thompkins Health Center, friend, family member or coworker and tell them about what's happening. You can also call the RACS 24-hour hotline at 1-800-303-0013.
Your situation may change
Your situation may change and you may need to take another look at what's going on for you. You may find at a later time that you're ready to move on and leave the violent situation.
If you're ready to leave the person abusing you, read about how you can plan and prepare for this. The time leading up to, and just after leaving, can be the most dangerous for you. It's important that you are aware of this and plan for your safety.
Gather all the information you can to learn about domestic violence. Sometimes your own feelings about violence may make it difficult for you to confront the situation. Contact The RSVP Center on campus and RACS in the community. These programs not only offer people safety but also provide advocacy, support, and other needed services. Rape and Abuse Crisis Service (RACS) (1-800-303-0013) and talk to staff about your concerns. Domestic violence advocates can be an excellent source of support for both you and your friend.
Lend a Sympathetic Ear
Let your friend know you care and will listen. Don’t force the issue, but allow your friend to come to you to talk when your friend is ready to confide in you. Keep your mind open and really listen to what your friend tells you.
Never blame, criticize, or guilt your friend for what is happening or underestimate your friend's fear of potential danger. Remember that your friend must make their own decisions about their life. Focus on supporting your friend's right to make their own choices and decisions.
Guide Your Friend to Community Services
When your friend asks for advice on what to do, share the information you gathered privately. Let your friend know that they're not alone, and caring people are available to help. Encourage them to seek the assistance of RACS. Assure your friend that they will keep any information they share with them strictly confidential.
Many people who have been abused initially approach counselors, psychiatrists, or members of the clergy for advice. Your friend may receive good advice from many of these "helping professionals," but it is also important to remember that not all of them are specially trained to address domestic violence issues. If you think that your friend's clergy person, counselor, psychiatrist, or other advisor is not specially trained to deal with domestic violence issues, encourage your friend to contact RACS for specialized assistance.
Focus on Your Friend's Strengths
Many abused people live with emotional as well as physical abuse. Your friend may be continually told by the abuser that they are a bad person, called names, or other negative things. Without positive reinforcement from outside of the home, they may begin to believe they can’t do anything right -- that there really is something wrong with them. Give your friend the emotional support they need to believe that they are a good person. Help your friend examine their strengths and skills. Emphasize that your friend deserves a life that is free from violence.
Tell your friend you’re there when they need you. Provide whatever you can: transportation, child care, financial assistance, or anything else that could help your friend stay safe. However, do not promise more than you can provide. This will cause your friend to possible lose trust in you.
Confront Your Friend with the Danger
At some point, you may find it difficult to be supportive of your friend if they remain in the violent relationship or return to the abuser after a temporary separation. Let your friend know that not everyone lives with abuse. Be willing to confront your friend with the physical and emotional harm that your friend will suffer if they stay. Help your friend face up to the dangerous reality of living with an abusive partner. Remind your friend that even a push or a shove can result in serious injury. However, remember there are many reasons your friend remains in their relationship. Remember to listen and to be non-judgmental.
Help your friend develop a Safety Plan
Encourage your friend to develop a plan to protect his/herself and his/her children. Help your friend think through the steps to take if your friend's abuser becomes violent again. Make a list of people your friend can call in an emergency. Suggest that your friend put together and hide a suitcase of clothing, personal items, money, social security cards, bank books, the children’s birth certificates and school records, and other important documents. Offer to keep this suitcase at your home if you are able to do so.
Offer to Take Care of Your Friend's Pet
Often, abused persons delay leaving their homes because of concern for their pets. If you can take care of your friend's pet while they are away, that may help your friend to leave sooner and will also keep the pet safe from the abuser.
If Your Friend Decides to Leave
The first safe place your friend should contact is RACS’ 24-hour hotline (1-800-303-0013) for possible emergency shelter. Shelter workers can help your friend examine available options. If your friend leaves, a shelter may be the safest place to go. Sometimes shelters don’t have enough room for all the people who need their help. Your friend may need to rely on family or friends for temporary housing.
Be careful when offering and providing safety in your home. Abused people frequently face the most physical danger in the attempt to leave. Be very discreet, and talk to the RSVP Center and RACS about the best way to handle this.
When to Intervene
It cannot be overemphasized that dating and domestic violence is a crime that can cause serious injury and even death. If you know or suspect that a battering incident is occurring, call the police or LUPD immediately.