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Common Questions

What are the first indicators of an abusive relationship?

1. Not Saying Sorry/ Apologizing 

This can, in some ways, be viewed as abusive because it is extremely one-sided, which shows a lack of growth and unwillingness to change. Resultantly, if your partner refuses to apologize after an argument/fight, do not immediately consider yourself always wrong.

2. Monitoring

Pay attention to the responses you receive when asked questions such as: Where are you? Where are you going? When will you be back? Why didn't you call me? How do you know that person? If you hear a lot of questions like these, be careful. Don't be afraid to say no. 

3. Manufacturing Jealousy

Abusers love the reassurance that you want only them and will create situations designed to make you feel jealous or that your relationship is threatened. Because of this, abusers will make up stories about someone else pursuing them, just to keep you behaving. 

4. Isolating

Pay attention to how individuals behave around their friends. Are they possessive or Clingy? Always rushing you to leave? Abusers may also wage war against your people; inventing drama or conflict in order to make you feel they are the only one you can trust.

5. Should's

Comments about how you should or should not cut your hair, whom you should see, what job you should take, how you should speak, etc., are an indication that your partner believes he knows more than you do about yourself and your life. This attitude will increase over time until will you no longer know who you are. 

Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence,

Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

1. Low/ No Self-Esteem

Oftentimes, people in emotionally abusive relationships may not understand that they are being abused because they are not physically harmed. Unfortunately, it can be hard for those in abusive relationships to leave their partners after they have continuously been degraded and convinced there is no better option for themselves. 

2. Hope

After every abusive incident comes to a honeymoon phase. Often when an abusive situation happens, it is followed by the abuser doing something nice or apologizing and promising that they will never do it again. On average, a person in an abusive relationship will attempt to leave 7 times before finally leaving for good. 

3. Cultural/Religious Reasons

Traditional gender roles can make it difficult for individuals to admit to being sexually active and for young men to admit to being abused. Also, culture and/or religion can influence victims to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family. 

Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence,

What if your spouse or co-parent is abusing your child? 

1.Regardless of whether or not you are a victim of domestic violence yourself, if you know that your spouse or your child's other parent is abusing your child, you have a responsibility to report the abuse. 

2. Laws protect parents or individuals who mistakenly report abuse or child neglect, provided that the suspicions of abuse or neglect are reasonable. In fact, anyone who reports child abuse or neglect "in good faith" is immune from civil or criminal penalties as a result of making a report. 

3. Have your child examined by a doctor and request a temporary order of sole custody without visitation by the alleged abuser, pending investigation. 

4. Request a psychological evaluation and appropriate treatment for the allegedly abusive parent, such as substance or alcohol abuse rehabilitation, mental health treatment, and/or anger management.

Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence,

How do I protect my children?

1. Arrange a safe place for your children to go to. It's also important to tell them that their job is to stay safe, not protect you. 

2. Make sure your child knows the abuse isn't their fault and violence is never ok, even when someone they love is being abused. 

3. Pack a bag you can take with you in an emergency - be sure to include important documentation for you and your children and anything your kids may need (formula, medicine, diapers, birth certificates, immigration papers). Keep the bag hidden in a safe place or leave it with someone you trust.

4. Talk to an attorney about your state's custody laws. Consider getting a protection order. It may award you temporary custody of your children and help with your long term plans.

Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence,

What can religious organizations do to help end IPV?

1. Religion plays a very important role in the lives of many victims of domestic violence. Many confide in their faith leader when experiencing domestic violence, and some found the support and assistance of their faith communities to be essential in obtaining safety. 

2. Get involved and make connections with your local domestic violence program. 

3. Co-sponsor training on domestic violence (offer free space for domestic violence support groups or training). 

4. Invite a representative from the domestic violence program to speak to church groups, subcommittees, or at meetings. 

5. Have information such as posters with local domestic violence programs' phone numbers available in clergy offices, in restrooms, and at women's meetings.

6. Talk about domestic violence in sermons or messages from faith leaders.

Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence,

What if you have to leave quickly?

1. If you have to leave your home quickly to get away from an abusive relationship, go to court immediately for a protective order that requires the abuser to stay away from you. If you have children, be sure the order gives you custody. Otherwise, you may be accused of kidnapping.


2. If you have the resources, it’s wise to hire a lawyer at this point. But don’t worry if you can’t afford to pay for legal assistance; there are many resources available to help you. If you go to a shelter, the staff should be able to help you find legal assistance quickly to file the necessary papers. 

3. Usually, you also will be able to quickly find help with delivering legal documents to your spouse; the local sheriff’s office is usually charged with this task. You have to get the papers delivered (served) before they take effect.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

What happens after I leave?

1. Immediately change your phone number and don’t answer the phone unless you know who is calling. Be sure that your new phone number is unlisted and blocked so that it can’t be easily discovered. 

2. You may also want to rent a post office box or arrange to have your mail delivered to the address of a friend or family member.

3. If the abuser does contact you, make a note of when, how, and what happened. 


4. If you have a restraining order, keep it with you at all times. If you believe the terms of the order have been violated, call the police or contact the court right away.

Additional suggestions from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):


1. If you are staying in your home, have the locks changed


2. Don’t stay alone


3. Change your routine frequently


4. Think about how you’ll get away if the abuser confronts you


5. If you have to meet the abuser, do so in a very public place, during the day. 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

What about child custody and visitation concerns? 

1. If you share legal custody of your children with an abusive spouse or partner, you can make arrangements for neutral pickup/ drop-off sites, and you can have your contact information kept private and out of court records.


2. If you have sole custody of your children, but the judge has ordered some type of visitation, you can ask that conditions be put on it, such as your spouse can’t drink or use drugs when with the kids, or that certain friends, relatives, or associates of your spouse can’t be around the kids.


3. If you do not think it is safe to be in the same place as your spouse, your local police station is a good choice. 


4. In extreme cases, you can ask the court to appoint a visitation supervision monitor and arrange for the drop-off and pickup to be staggered in time, with the monitor watching the kids in between. 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

What should parents tell their children about domestic violence?

1. Some parents may be reluctant to tell you that their children have witnessed domestic violence. Others may try to minimize the children’s actual exposure to the violence (saying, for example, “They didn’t know it was happening,” or “They were always asleep or at school”).  A victimized parent may also avoid talking to a child about domestic violence. The parent may assume that a child is too young to understand, or that it’s better to just move on. 

2. Talk to them about what happened, listen openly to what they have to say, and offer the following key messages: 

    a. “The violence was not and is not okay.”

    b. “It is not your fault.”

    c.“You can tell me how you feel; it is important.”

    d. “I’m sorry you had to see (or hear) that.” 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Why do victims sometimes stay or return to abusers?

1. Abusive partners work very hard to keep victims trapped in the relationship. They may try to isolate the victim from friends and family, thereby reducing the people and places where the survivor can go for support. 


2. There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave. In fact, a victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left. On average, three women die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner every day.  


3.Through “gaslighting,” abusive partners cause victims to feel like they are responsible for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that abusers use to confuse and shift blame onto the victim. This often causes the victim to doubt their sanity and feel like they are responsible for the abuse and therefore able to stop it.


4. Abuse takes an emotional and physical toll over time, which can translate to additional health issues that make leaving more difficult.


5. Survivors often report that they want the abuse to end, not the relationship. A survivor may stay with or return to an abusive partner because they believe the abuser’s promises to change.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Is it possible for abusers to change?

1. Yes, but they must first make the choice to change their behavior. It’s not easy for an abusive partner to stop because once an abuser has had all of the power in a relationship, it’s difficult to transition to a healthy relationship where each partner has equal respect and power.


2. Sometimes an abusive partner stops one form of the abuse – for example, the physical violence – but continues to employ other forms of abuse – such as emotional, sexual, or financial abuse. It is important to remember that domestic violence includes one or more forms of abuse and is a part of an overall pattern of seeking power and control over the victim.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Are men victims of domestic violence?

1. Yes, men can be victims of domestic abuse.  According to data collected from 2003 to 2012, 82 percent of domestic, dating, and sexual violence was committed against women, and 18 percent against men. 


2. Pervasive stereotypes that men are always the abuser and women are always the victim discriminates against survivors who are men and discourages them from coming forward with their stories.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Do some religious beliefs cause domestic violence?

Some abusers may use religion as an excuse for their violence. Religion is no excuse for domestic violence and use of Scriptures to justify domestic violence is unacceptable. There is nothing to support the view that it is God's will for people to endure domestic and family violence. Some women may feel pressure from their faith or church community to 'honor' their commitment to marriage and stay in the abusive relationship.  

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Is domestic violence prevalent in some cultures?

Domestic violence crosses all countries and cultures. Some abusive men claim that in their culture women have a subordinate role and the use of violence is permitted to keep women in line.  It is important to maintain cultural traditions and beliefs but this can be done without violence or abuse. 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Does poverty cause domestic violence?

No. Domestic violence occurs in all socioeconomic groups.  There are studies that report that there is more abuse in low-income populations and there are studies that report more abuse in higher-income populations. 

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

Why is couple's counseling dangerous?

1. Couple counseling is beneficial to work on relationship problems. Abusing a partner, however, is a violent criminal act, not a relationship problem. It is illegal. It is a behavior that is solely the responsibility of the violent person.  Treating a couple together could:

     a. Endanger the victim who may face violence or threats of violence for revealing information during therapy which is disapproved by the partner. 


     b. Ignore the denial, minimization, and deception about the violence that occurs when the focus of counseling is on the couple’s interaction.

     c. Indicate that the therapist condones violence or that violence is acceptable or not important.

Source: National Coalition Against Domestic Violence,

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