You are not alone. Abuse happens in every culture and in every age group -- and if it's happening to you, we can help. If you are being abused you probably feel frightened, angry and without hope. Your partner might make it worse by blaming you. But no one deserves to be abused or threatened. You cannot stop your partner's abuse, but there are ways to find the support and help you need - and the hope we all deserve.
What you can do right now
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 to find the domestic violence program nearest you. Visit their Web site at http://www.ndvh.org/ to make a plan that is safe for you.
Talk with somebody you trust: a friend or relative, or someone from your job or house of worship.
Put together an "emergency kit" of things you would really need if you had to leave suddenly, such as identification, medicine, keys, and money. This will also make you feel more in control.
Remember that you are the expert about your own life. Don't let anyone talk you into doing something that's not right for you.
Recognizing abuse: 10 warning signs of domestic violence
What do you do if you think a friend or family member is in a violent relationship, but you're not sure? Go with your instincts - you probably wouldn't be concerned without reason.
Here are some signs to look for that might indicate an abusive relationship:
- When your friend and her/his partner are together, the abusive partner acts very controlling and puts your friend down in front of other people.
- You see the partner violently lose her/his temper, striking or breaking objects.
- The partner acts extremely jealous of others who pay attention to your friend.
- Your friend becomes quiet when her/his partner is around and seems afraid of making her/him angry.
- Your friend becomes more and more isolated, not seeing you or other friends.
- Your friend often has unexplained injuries, or the explanations don't quite add up. (Sometimes you won't see any bruises, as batterers target their blows to areas that can be covered with clothing.)
- Your friend has casually mentioned the partner's violent behavior but dismissed what happened as "not a big deal."
- She/he often cancels plans at the last minute.
- The partner controls your friend's finances, her/his behavior and even who she/he socializes with.
- Your friend's child is frequently upset or very quiet and withdrawn and won't say why.
Help someone who Is being abused
You might think that something as simple as talking to a friend about abuse couldn't possibly make a difference. But it really does.
Just knowing that someone cares enough to ask about the abuse can break through the wall of isolation that can exist around victims of relationship abuse.
If you think a friend or loved one is being abused, talk about it. Listen to your friend. Let her/him know you care. You don't have to be an expert. You just need to be a friend.
- Listen, without judging. Often a battered person believes the abuser's negative messages. Your friend may feel responsible, ashamed, inadequate and afraid to be judged by you.
- Reinforce that abuse is not the person's fault. Explain that physical violence in a relationship is never acceptable. There's no excuse for it - not alcohol or drugs, financial pressure, depression, jealousy or any behavior of hers/his.
- Your friend is not alone. Millions of women and thousands of men of every age, race and religion face abuse, and most people find it extremely difficult to deal with the violence. Emphasize that when your friend wants help, it is available. Domestic violence tends to get worse and become more frequent with time and that it rarely goes away on its own.
- Explain that relationship abuse is a crime, and that she/he can seek protection from the police or courts, and help from a local domestic violence program. Suggest that she/he call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE, for advice and referrals.
- Suggest that your friend make a safety plan in case of emergency: it's a good idea to keep money, important documents, a change of clothes and an extra set of keys in a safe place, such as at a friend or neighbor's house.
- If your friend decides to leave the relationship, she/he may need money, assistance finding a place to live, a place to store some belongings or a ride to a shelter. Think about ways you might feel comfortable helping.
- If you want to talk with someone yourself to get advice about a particular situation, contact a local domestic violence program. To find a program near you, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.
Blue Shield against violence
Is your workplace prepared to respond to domestic violence? We can help.
Blue Shield knows that domestic violence doesn't stay at home when an employee comes to work. It's highly likely that domestic violence affects people in your workforce and has an impact on your daily operations.
- 31% of women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend.
- 37% of domestic violence victims report a negative impact on their work performance in terms of absenteeism, reduced productivity and higher medical costs.
Since 1996, Blue Shield has been working to reduce the impact of domestic violence in California. We have resources and strategies to help you make a practical and effective response in your workplace. The services of Blue Shield Against Violence are free of charge to all California employers. You can find:
- Expert consultation for your human resource team
- On-site training for business leaders, managers, and rank and file employees
- Resources in your community
Do you need help managing an employee who is a victim of domestic violence? Learn more about Blue Shield Against Violence, a free resource for all California employers.