Domestic violence is a “loss of control." Violent behavior is a choice.  Perpetrators use it to control their victims.  Their actions are very deliberate.
The victim is responsible because she provokes it.  No one asks to be abused...and no one deserves to be abused regardless of what they say or do.
If the victim didn’t like it, she would leave.  Victims do not like the abuse.  They stay in the relationship for many reasons, including fear.  Most do eventually leave.
Domestic violence only occurs in a small percentage of relationships.  Estimates report that domestic violence occurs in 1/4 to 1/3 of all intimate relationships.
Middle and upper class women do not get abused as often as poor women. Domestic violence occurs in all socio-economic levels.  Because women with money usually have access to resources, poorer women tend to utilize community agencies and are therefore more visible.
Batterers are violent in all their relationships.  Batterers choose to be violent toward their partners in ways they would never consider treating other people.
Alcohol/drugs causes battering.  Although many abusive partners also abuse alcohol and/or drugs, this is not the underlying cause of the battering.  Many batterers use alcohol/drugs as an excuse to explain the violence.
Once a battered woman, always a battered woman.  While some battered women have been in more than one abusive relationship, women who receive domestic violence services are the least likely to enter another abusive relationship.


Domestic violence, battering, or family abuse—all ways to describe a pattern of abusive behavior that some individuals use to control their intimate partners.  Any type of violence, abuse, or threat that one partner in a relationship commits against another.  It includes, but is not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and psychological attacks.  It’s a problem that has been happening for years and every year in the United States affects millions of people—most often women.
Domestic violence involves different types of behaviors.  Examples include: punches, kicks, slaps, shoves, hits, using degrading remarks, forcing partner to perform degrading tasks, sexual assault, rape, and other tactics used to establish power and control over a partner. 
Has your partner ever:
* Hit, kick, shoved or injured you in any way?
* Forced or coerced you to engage in unwanted sexual acts?
* Controlled what you do and what you see in a way that interferes with your work, education or other activities?
* Stolen or destroyed your belongings?
* Criticized you or put you down or called you names?
* Made you feel afraid or uneasy?
* Threatened to hurt you or others close to you?
* Denied your basic needs such as food, housing, clothing, or medical and physical assistance?

If you answered yes to any of these question, you may want to consider your safety.



¨ Children who witness abuse are more likely to: commit suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, have poor performance in school, commit sexual crimes and/or be physically or psychologically abused by the batterer

¨ A male child growing up in an abusive home is 1,000 times more likely to become an abuser than a male child that did not grow up in an abusive home.

¨ Girls who grow up seeing their mother being abused quite often become battered women themselves.

¨ Over three million children are at risk each year of exposure to parental violence.

¨  40-60% of men who abuse women also abuse children

¨ In one study, 27% of domestic homicides were children.


Resources and education

Sexual Assault - a crime of power and control

This term refers to sexual assault or behaviors that occur without the consent of the victim.

Some forms include:

Penetration of the victim's body, known as rape

Attempted rape

Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts

Unwanted sexual touching or fondling

Emotional coercion, psychological force or manipulation can be the force that coerces the victim into unwanted sexual acts.  Threats to hurt the victim or family members if victim does not comply is also used.

Approximately 2/3 of sexual assaults are committed by

someone known to the victim.

It may be an intimate relationship, or it could be a neighbor, friend, classmate, or any number of others.

Dating or instances of past intimacy do not mean consent for sexual contact.

Stranger rape can also occur.  A perpetrator may quickly and brutally attack a victim with no prior contact; a stranger may break into a home and commit sexual assault; or the perpetrator may contact the victim and try tactics such as flirting or other wise coercing the victim into a situation where sexual assault will occur.

It is common for the victim - in any of these circumstances - to blame themselves.  It is important to remember that the victim is never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.


~ Children (if it is safe)
~ Money
~ Keys to car, house, work
~ Extra clothes
~ Medicine
~ Important papers for you and your children
~ Birth certificates
~ Social security cards
~ School and medical records
~ Bankbooks, credit cards
~ Driver's license
~ Car registration
~ Passports, green cards, work permits
~ Lease/rental agreement
~ Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
~ Insurance papers
~ Protective order, divorce papers, custody orders
~ Address book
~ Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
~ Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.) 

WARNING:Abusers try to control their victim's lives. When abusers feel a loss of control - like when victims try to leave them - the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left.  
This personalized safety planning was adapted from Original plan devised by Metro  Nashville Police Department.

If you have left your abuser, think about:

1. First and foremost - your safety and the safety of your children.
2. Getting a cell phone. You may need to call 911.
3. Getting a protective order from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
4. Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
5. Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
6. Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a protective order protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
7. Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a protective order that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
8. Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
9. Someone that you can call if you feel down.
10. Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
11. Going over your safety plan often.


If you are in an abusive relationship,     think about...
1. Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and My Sister’s House (704-872-3403.)

2. Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.

3. How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.

4. Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.

5. Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.

6. Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.

7. Going over your safety plan often.

What to do if you have been sexually assaulted

  • Get away from the attacker as fast as you can and to a safe place.  Call 911 or the police.
  • Contact a friend or family member you can trust to come be with you.
  • Do not wash, comb, or clean any part of your body.  Do not change clothes. The hospital needs clothing for evidence.  Don't touch anything at the scene of the assault.
  • Go to the nearest emergency department as soon as possible.  You should be examined and treated for any injuries, and screened for the possibility of infections (sexually transmitted) or pregnancy.  Other evidence will be gathered using a rape kit such as fibers, hair, saliva, semen or clothing the attacker may have left behind.

At the hospital, you can decide if you want to file a report.  Hospital personnel will help you make contact with law enforcement


Ask the hospital to contact My Sister's House. 


We will send an advocate to the hospital to meet with you and help you talk through decisions that will have to be made.  The advocate will also give you information about support groups and counseling.

Above all else, remember - the sexual assault

was not your fault. 

Don't be afraid to ask for help or support. 

Help is available.




24-hour domestic violence and sexual assault crisis line -


Sexual Assault

If you consider leaving your abuser, think about
1. Four places you could go if you leave your home.
2. People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
3. Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
4. Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
5. How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house - taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
6. How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
7. Putting together a bag of things you use everyday. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
8. Think about reviewing your safety plan often.