It’s easy to be distracted or influenced by others when it comes to social situations — especially in relationships. That’s why it's important to be aware of red flags when it comes to relationship violence and sexual assault.
Generally speaking, abuse is any behavior that results in the mistreatment of another.
If you or a friend is in a violent relationship, help is available.
- Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse (ATVP) | 208-883-4357
If you need a confidential advocate to walk you through the process of getting you the help that you need regarding sexual assault, domestic violence or stalking, contact ATVP.
How Can We Help?
- Think of a relatively safe place in your home to go if an argument occurs. Avoid rooms with no exits (bathrooms), or rooms with weapons (the kitchen).
- Keep a list of safe people to contact in a hidden, but easy to find location. If necessary, memorize important numbers.
- Keep your cell phone charged at all times.
- Establish a code word so family, friends, teachers or co-workers know to call for help.
- Plan how you will respond to your partner if he/she becomes violent.
- Have a set of clothes and sets of important documents (savings account records, check books, safety deposit keys, birth certificates, school records, deeds, other legal documents) for yourself (and for your children) stored at a friend's house or at work in the event you need to flee your house.
- Take pictures of physical injuries resulting from the abuse as soon as possible.
- If you have a protective order, carry it with you at all times. Make extra copies.
- Trust your own judgment and intuition. If a situation is serious, you may choose to give your partner what they want in order to calm them down and temporarily de-escalate the abuse. You have the right to protect yourself however you see fit.
- Remember you have the right to live without fear and violence.
- Change your phone number.
- Screen calls and put a block on your number so that you can’t be identified.
- Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the abuser.
- Change locks, if the abuser has a key.
- Avoid staying alone.
- Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
- If you have to meet your ex-partner, do it in a public place.
- Vary your routine.
- Notify school and work contacts.
- Contact Violence Prevention Programs for support.
If your friend or family member is undergoing the serious and painful effects of dating or domestic abuse, they may have a very different point of view than you.
They may have heard the abuse was their fault and feel responsible. If they do choose to leave, they may feel sad and lonely when it’s over, even though the relationship was abusive. They may get back together with their ex many times, even though you want them to stay apart. Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to even bring up a conversation about the abuse they’re experiencing.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend who you think needs help. Tell them you're concerned for their safety and want to help.
- Be supportive and listen patiently. Acknowledge their feelings and be respectful of their decisions.
- Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Focus on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner. Even if your loved one stays with their partner, it's important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
- Connect your friend to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance.
- Help them develop a safety plan.
- If they break up with the abusive partner, continue to be supportive after the relationship is over.
- Even when you feel like there’s nothing you can do, don’t forget that by being supportive and caring -- you're already doing a lot.
- Don’t contact their abuser or publicly post negative things about them online. It'll only worsen the situation for your friend.
It is difficult to see someone you care about hurt others. You may not even want to admit that your friend, sister or brother is abusive. But remember, when you remain silent or make excuses, you're encouraging their violence. Ultimately, the abuser is the only person who can decide to change, but there are things you can do to encourage them to be better. It's not easy for abusive people to admit that their violent behavior is a choice and accept responsibility for it. They may benefit from having control over their partner and may turn to you to help justify the abuse. Do not support the abuse in any way. Remember, you're not turning against your friend or family member — you're just helping them have a healthy relationship.
- Learn the warning signs of abuse so you can help your friend or family member recognize their unhealthy or abusive behaviors.
- Your friend may try to blame the victim for the abuse. Don’t support these feelings or help justify the abuse.
- Help your abusive friend focus on the victim’s feelings and the serious harm they're experiencing. Don’t support your friend’s efforts to minimize the severity of their behavior.
- Don’t ignore abuse you see or hear about. Your silence helps the abusive person deny that their behavior is wrong.
- Convince your friend that getting professional help is important. Encourage him or her to find a program that can help and have a list of resources ready. Chat with a peer advocate for help.
- Stay in touch with your friend or family member about the abuse. Be there to support the abuser over the long-term.
- Remind them that change will create a better, healthier relationship for both partners.
- Set an example by having healthy relationships in your own life.
- For more on dating violence, visit www.loveisrespect.org.
Fact: According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, from 25 to 50 percent of all women in heterosexual relationships are abused. Men report abuse by their partners at a rate of 7.6 percent. Rates of violence in same-sex relationships are the same. Keep in mind that these numbers only reflect reports and only scratch the surface.
Fact: Studies have repeatedly shown what a woman does or doesn't do has no effect on reducing the violence in a relationship. Interpersonal violence is about the need for power and control on the part of the abuser. Often they justify their behavior by blaming their victims. Nobody deserves this kind of abuse.
Fact: Victims may be reluctant to leave for a complex set of factors, such as:
- Fear of greater injury or death
- Degraded self-esteem
- Love or concern for the abuser.
If they are teens, they may be afraid to ask parents for help or fear they won’t be believed because their partners are so popular or good-looking.
They might be disabled or deaf, isolated in rural areas, or simply have no idea help is available. This is often true for women who don’t speak English and who may be threatened with deportation if they tell.
Fact: Abuse affects people of all classes, races, religions, nationalities and ages, married or not, straight and LGBTQ.
Fact: Interpersonal violence is just as common among dating couples as it is among married couples. The difference is, our understanding of abuse among married couples is greater than what we know about dating couples. As a result, sometimes law enforcement or state law does not meet the needs of victims of dating violence.
Fact: Disagreements occur in all relationships, but what distinguishes a disagreement or heated argument from abuse is emotional degradation and/or physical violence. Studies among college students revealed that as many as 27 percent of women were physically abused, 6 percent of men were physically abused and 36 percent were sexually abused by their partners.
Fact: According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, 35 percent of all women who arrive at doctors' offices or hospitals seeking emergency treatment are victims of domestic violence. Battering causes emotional damage and physical disability — even death. Fear of serious injury is based in fact. The most dangerous time for abused women is during a separation. Nearly one-half of all women murdered in the U.S. are killed by their male partners.
Fact: Alcohol and drugs are an excuse for violence, not the cause. Even chronic substance abusers batter when they are sober, and not all batterers are users of alcohol or drugs. Survivors sometimes use drugs and alcohol to mask their pain and escape the violence, and then become addicted.