What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence can be emotional, verbal, physical, psychological or sexual. It is a pattern of abusive behavior that one person in an intimate relationship uses to control the other. No one deserves to be abused and no one can cause someone to be abusive towards another. The abusive person chooses to abuse another.
Domestic violence happens to women and men in same sex relationships as well. Be aware that the law has changed so that you can now get an Order of Protection from Family Court. The Center can assist with this process.For more information and a statewide listing of services specifically for lesbian, gay, transgender, andbisexual victims of domestic violence, visit the NYC Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project: www.avp.org.
Older people can be victims of different types of "elder abuse" including domestic violence. Some women have been with the same abusive partner for many years. The abuse may have started while they were dating, first married, living together, or during pregnancy. Some have been in relationships with non-violent partners for many years, with abuse starting in later life. Others are starting new relationship following a death. Some older people are abused by other family members, often their children or grandchildren. In these cases, many of the same issues exist as with partner violence. These factors can be even worse if the older person is becoming less able to take care of themselves.
Does your partner:
- Put you Down
- Call you names
- Call or text you throughout the day to check on you
- Keep you from friends or family
- Control your money
- Threaten to hurt you, himself/herself, your pet or loved one
- Hit, Kick, Push, Punch, Slap, Pinch, Choke or Bite you
- Destroy property or throw things
- Tell you who you can see or what job you can have
- Tell you how to dress
- Act overly jealous
- Withold medication or health care
- Make you have sex or do sexual acts that you don't want to do
- Threaten to "out" you if you are gay or lesbian
- Constantly criticize
- Embarrass you
- Blame you for everything - including the abusive behavior
If you answered yes to any of these, you may be a victim of domestic violence.
What to do if you are being abused:
Find a safe place - Safety for yourself and your children is your first priority! Stay with family, friends or at a local shelter.
Call the police - Try to remain calm. Provide the police with information and evidence of injuries. Ask for a police report and read over the report to make sure it says what you want it to say. If you want your partner arrested, tell the responding officer.
Get medical attention - Call your doctor or go to the emergency room for treatment. Make sure you tell the doctor how your injuries were sustained and have this information documented. This is necessary information if you decide to press criminal charges or go to family court to file an order of protection.
Get legal help - If you are being abused by your partner, it is important to know your legal rights and options. Your partner may try to frighten you into not doing anything by making statements such as "You have no legal rights", "If you leave me, you will lose custody of the children" or "If you leave me I'll get you for abandonment". To know what your legal rights and alternatives really are, you will need to contact a lawyer. The District Attorney's Office can provide information about a criminal proceeding. Information regarding Family Court options can be obtained from an attorney or Help Restore Hope Program Advocate.
Get counseling for yourself and your children - There are always professionals and people just like you who can talk with you about your situation. Don't wait until you are hit again or are seriously hurt. Help is available!
What about my children?
People who abuse their intimate partners may also abuse their children. Even if they are not a target of the violence, children often know about the abuse happening in their home even when parents think they don't. Abused women try very hard to shield their children from the violence, but this is not always possible.
While each child is different, children can be affected seeing one parent abuse the other. 'Some ways children may be affected include:
- health-related problems, such as headaches and stomach problems
- developmental problems, such as bed-wetting
- using aggressive behavior against others, including the non-violent parent
- problems learning and concentrating in school
- school attendance problems
An important factor in helping children deal with domestic violence is their relationship with you. There are things you can do to help them with what is happening now as well as help them as they become adults.