If you are in immediate danger, please call 911. For help call the Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-942-0333 or TTY 319-832-1490. Hotline advocates are available 24 hours a day to provide confidential crisis intervention, safety planning, and information and referral.
|HOW TO TELL YOU ARE IN AN UNSAFE RELATIONSHIP|
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, threatening, and violent behaviors aimed at gaining power and control over an intimate partner. This includes name-calling, controlling who the partner talks to, using children as a weapon, and blaming.
For examples of the tactics batterers use click here.
Why do intimate partners hurt the person they care about?
Because they believe they have the right to. And because they can get away with it. They get what they want, when they want it. They get their way. They have learned that abuse works and that it’s okay to treat a partner that way. They may have learned it watching their parents; they may have learned it in school, from friends, from the media, or from our history and culture.
How does domestic violence affect families?
Abusive behavior affects more than just the adult victim. Children witness the batterer’s behavior and often are the targets themselves. They may respond by acting out, acting self-destructively, or showing other trauma symptoms. Parents who are being hurt may struggle to be the best parent they can be, as the batterer drains them emotionally and physically. The choices made by the adult victim may seem uncaring or neglectful to outsiders who don’t understand the range of abusive behaviors and threats the victim is facing. Staying with an abusive partner and sacrificing her own safety, may seem like the best way to protect the children from being alone with a violent parent, being kidnapped, or being killed in retaliation for leaving.
Research shows that the key factor for children healing from being exposed to family violence is the strength of the relationship with their primary caretaker. Steps to intervene should be aimed at strengthening that bond.
|WHAT TO DO IF YOU THINK YOU ARE IN
AN UNSAFE RELATIONSHIP
If you feel you're in an abusive relationship, please know that you are not alone and it's not your fault. It may be critical for you to think about finding support and safety.
Battered immigrant women and children face greater obstacles escaping violence, and ICADV is committed to providing legal responses to clients who are undocumented immigrants or at risk of losing documentation due to abuse. Click here to learn more about the services ICADV provides.
A safety plan can be a very helpful tool in keeping you safe. Safety planning for someone who is still in an abusive relationship is often a necessary and important step. You can plan for your safety while still with your abuser or after the relationship has ended. As you think about creating your safety plan, think about your own strengths and the resources you have access to that may be helpful. It may also be important to seek out help from an advocate in developing your safety plan. They also have information or referrals you need to be safer. Below is a list of tips and ideas to help with your safety plan.
Living with an Abuser
Leaving an Abuser
Take a look at everything on the “Living with an Abuser” list for ideas that may still be helpful.
Research tells us that women are at increased risk while in the process of leaving an abusive relationship. Special care and consideration must be taken when leaving an abusive relationship.
Items to Take If Possible:
Living Separate from the Abuser
Take a look at the first two lists (“Living with an Abuser” and “Leaving an Abuser”) for ideas that will still help.
It is important to remember that when abuser feel a loss of control over their partner, like she tries to leave the relationship, the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you are leaving and even after you have left the abusive relationship.
|WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE IS HURTING YOUR PARENT|
If you are living in a home where one adult is hurting the other, you are not alone and it is not your fault. It isn’t the fault of your parent that is being hurt either. No one does anything bad enough that they deserve to be hurt. It isn’t right to hurt other people.
It's important to find someone you trust to talk about what's happening. It's especially important to plan for your safety. You will probably need a safe, trusted adult to help you come up with the best plan. It might be a friend’s parent, a teacher, a coach, or a relative. Ask them for ideas and help.
Talking with someone about what is happening is really hard. It can be scary too. You should be proud of yourself for asking for help. That is really brave.
Protecting your parents is not your job. Being safe is your job. Do not try to get in the middle of the fight. Get yourself safe first, and then if you can, get help from other adults. Here are some steps you can take.
Safety Planning for Children Living With Domestic Violence
|WHAT TO DO IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS BEING ABUSED|
Do you have a friend, family member, or someone you’re worried about? Maybe you’ve noticed changes in his or her behavior. There are often obvious signs of intimate partner violence, and there's a lot you can do to help. Try to approach it in a sensitive and safety conscious way. Remember, people do not always trust that your assistance will be helpful and they may fear your involvement will make things worse.
Don't be afraid to tell them you are concerned for their safety and want to help them in a way that they find safe and meaningful.
Acknowledge and try to be understanding of their feelings about their relationship -- remember, many people are in love with their abusers or fear that engaging in help seeking at that time could make things much worse.
Remember that they are the expert on their abuser and may not agree with your advice on what to do -- be respectful of their decisions and keep being there for them. It is a big decision to leave an abuser which often results a number of other significant losses for the victim. Only the victim can decide what is best for her and her family and will be required to live with the resulting outcomes.
Sometimes the most helpful thing is to just listen and be supportive. Let the victim know you’re ready to help whenever she’s ready.
Be There For Them
Encourage them to do things with you, other friends, and family. Get them excited to do things outside of their relationship. An abuser often uses isolation as an effective tool in maintain control over the victim and limiting her access to help and information. It is important to find a way to remain in the victim’s life in a safe and supportive way no matter how frightening it is or how frustrated you become.
Connect Them to Resources
They may not even realize they are in an abusive relationship. Send them to a website like www.ICADV.org to get the facts. Public libraries also have helpful books on domestic violence. If it is not safe for her to have reading material at home, you can offer to keep the resources for her.
Help them develop a plan to be safer in the relationship or to end their relationship safely when they are ready.
If they break up with the abuser, keep being supportive once they are single. Healing takes time, but maintaining healthy supportive relationships can aid in the process of healing from trauma.
Ways to Begin Supportive Conversation about the Abuse:
It might feel awkward. If it is hard for you, imagine what it is like being the one who is abused. Here are some conversation starters:
Don't be afraid to tell her you're concerned for her safety.
“I see what is going on with you and _______ and I want to help.”
“You don’t deserve to be treated that way. Good husbands and partners don’t say or do those kinds of things.”
“The way he treats you is wrong. Men should never hit or threaten the women they love.”
“I’m worried about your safety and am afraid he’ll really hurt you next time.”
“Promise me that if you need to talk, you’ll come to me.”
“It usually gets worse, not better.”
Avoid confrontations or trying to “force” the victim on discloses details of the abuse. It’s important to empower and support her.
Do not try to control or force her.
“I’m here to help and am always available, even if you don’t want to talk about it.”
Don’t try to make any decisions for your friend or family member because it implies that you think she’s incapable of making good choices for herself and it may deter her from confiding in you in the future.
Instead, focus on offering support and encouragement.
“I want to help. What can I do to support you?”
Encourage her to get help. Help her look into available resources, such as the Iowa Domestic Violence Hotline number (800-942-0333) or a local domestic violence agency with specially-trained advocates to help her out of the situation.
Suggest ways she can get additional support.
“Here is the number to our local domestic violence agency. They can help provide shelter, counseling or support groups.”
Here are some things to avoid saying.
These sound victim-blaming.
“You shouldn't put up with this.”
“Why don't you just leave him/her?”
“Why do you let him/her do this to you?”
“How did you get involved with someone like this?”
“What did you do to provoke it?”
“What could you do to stop your partner from abusing you?”
“He/she is a real jerk (loser, slime, etc.)”
“You should go to marriage counseling together.”
If you are concerned about the safety of your friend or family member, or to learn about service in your area, contact the Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline at 1-800-942—3333 or TTY 319-832-1490. We also recommend the book To Be an Anchor in the Storm: A Guide for Families and Friends of Abused Women by Susan Brewster.Back to top