According to the National Crime Prevention Bureau, as many as four million women in this country suffer from some kind of violence from their husbands or boyfriends each year. Very few will tell anyone - a friend, relative, neighbor, or the Police.
Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, cultures, income groups, ages, and religions. They share the feeling of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear, and shame.
Are you abused ?
Does the person you love:
- "Keep Track" of all your time ?
- Constantly accuse you of being unfaithful ?
- Discourage relationships with family & friends ?
- Prevent you from working or attending school ?
- Criticize you for little things ?
- Anger easily when drinking or using drugs ?
- Control finances & force you to account in detail for your spending ?
- Humiliate you in front of others ?
- Destroy personal property or sentimental items ?
- Hit, punch, slap, kick, or bite you or the children ?
- Threaten to hurt you or the children ?
- Force you to have sex against your will ?
If you find yourself saying yes to any of these - it's time to get help !
Do Not Ignore the Problem !
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, neighbor, or call a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE, or your POLICE DEPT. Plan ahead and know what you will do if your are attacked again. If you decide to leave, choose a place to go; set aside some money. Put important papers- marriage license, birth certificate, checkbook - in a place where you can get them quickly. Learn to think independently. Try to plan for the future, and set goals for yourself.
What to do if you are hurt
There are no easy answers, but there are things that you can do to protect yourself.
- Call the POLICE. Assault, especially by a family member, is a crime. The Police often 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 women's shelter. Call a crisis hotline in your community or health center to locate a shelter. If you believe that you or 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 if you decide to take legal action. Contact your PROBATE COURT for information about a RESTRAINING ORDER that does not involve criminal charges.
Have you hurt someone in your family ?
- Accept the fact that your violent behavior will destroy your family. You break the law when you physically hurt someone.
- Take responsibility for your actions and get help.
- When you feel tension building, GET AWAY. Work off the angry energy through walk, a project, or sport.
- Call a DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE or health center and ask about counseling and support groups for people who batter.
The high costs of domestic violence
- Men & women who follow their parent's example, and use violence to solve conflicts, are teaching the same destructive behavior to their children.
- Jobs can be lost or careers stalled because of injuries, arrests, or harassment.