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Crossroad Women and Family Services, Inc.

Post Office Box 2421, Kingston, NY 12402

Crossroad Women and Family Services, Inc.

"Transforming Lives of Women Who Transform their World"

 Understanding Domestic Family Violence

What is domestic violence? Domestic violence also called battering, can be verbal, emotional and /or physical. Verbal abuse involves insults, name calling, or verbal harassment beyond normal arguing. Emotional abuse includes damaging an individuals’ self esteem, or restricting one’s personal freedom.

Physical abuse involves pushing, hitting, kicking, punching, threats and sometimes the use of weapons. The victim and the abuser are in a close relationship, i.e. husband and wife, dating couples, family members, or people living together.

Domestic violence is a crime. It is defined as a pattern of coercive tactics, which can include psychological and emotional, social, financial, physical and sexual abuse, perpetrated by a family or household member, a boyfriend or significant other, with the goal of establishing or maintaining power and control over the victim. Domestic violence can happen to anyone

  • 70%of intimate partner homicide victims are women.
  • 40% -60% of men who abuse women also abuse children.
  • Every 9 seconds in the U.S. a woman is assaulted or beaten.
  • Nearly one-third of American women (31%) report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
  • Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women-more than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined.
  • As many as 324,000 women each year experience intimate partner violence .
  • suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Forms of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence can take many forms and can happen occasionally or all the time. Examples of the different forms of domestic violence are outlined below.

Psychological and Emotional Abuse

This is when you are told, for example, that you are ugly, fat, hopeless, stupid, a bad mother, etc. It can also be if your partner emotionally blackmails you, for example, by saying, “If you really love me you would...”

Social Abuse

This is when you are not allowed to see the people you want to see, or when you don't see your family or friends because you decide it isn't worth all the arguments.

Financial Abuse

This is when you are not given enough money to feed and clothe yourself or your children and/or when you get no money for paying bills but are expected to make ends meet. It is also when your partner forces you to hand over your money.

Physical Abuse

This is when you are pushed, shoved, slapped, hit, punched, or kicked or things are used as weapons against you. This is the most obvious form of domestic violence.

Sexual Abuse

This is when you are pressured or forced to participate in any sexual activity against your will.

The Cycle of Violence

  • Often times those who were victims of domestic violence, child abuse or observers of it in their own families learned that violence is a way to solve problems and deal with their frustrations.
  • Men who witnessed domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children, than those who did not witness domestic violence.
  • Women who are abused as children are likely to become victims of abuse as adults.
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to commit sexual assault crimes.
  • Up to 40% of violent juvenile offenders witnessed domestic violence in their homes.
  • Between 30 and 50% of dating relationships exhibit the same kind of escalating violence as marital relationships.
  • One study revealed that recent exposure to violence in the home was a significant factor in predicting a child’s violent behavior.

Warning Signs

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if someone is in an abusive relationship. Furthermore, it can be just as difficult for a victim to realize that she is in an abusive relationship. Those who are abused and those who abuse come from all the different backgrounds. Most people experiencing relationship violence do not tell others about it. So how would you know?

Here are some signs to look for:

Verbal Abuse.

He puts her down by calling her names, constantly criticizing her, provoking public or private humiliation, or making her feel crazy.

Bruises and Injuries.

She often has bruises and injuries that she can't explain or makes weak excuses for them.

Violent Temper.

He has threatened to hurt her, her children, family members, friends or pets. He blames her and other people for everything, and gets angry in a way that scares her or other people.

Controlling Behavior.

He checks up on her constantly by asking about her whereabouts, calling her at work all day, checking her car mileage, and listening to her phone calls. He manages all the finances and monitors her spending.

Extreme Jealousy.

He acts jealous or possessive. He accuses her of flirting or having affairs.


He tells her not to see certain friends or family members, keeps her away from school or work and makes her stay home when she wants to go out.

Emotional Changes.

She seems to be on the edge or seems to be fearful. Or, she becomes quiet when her husband or boyfriend is around.

Behavior of the Children.

The children frequently get into trouble at school or are quiet and withdrawn and don't get along with the other children.

Why Do Women Stay?

A woman's reasons for staying in an abusive relationship are complex. Often there are many aspects to the relationship that do not allow the woman to leave. Most often, she is afraid and fears for the safety of herself and her children. Some reasons women don't leave:

  • She fears she may lose custody of her children or cause emotional or physical harm to her children if she tries to leave.
  • She may have no financial resources, access to alternative support or skills to secure work.
  • Many times a woman will stay in a relationship because of religious beliefs. If she leaves or divorces her partner, her religious community may not support her.
  • Her friends and her family may not support her leaving. Her partner may have convinced her friends and family that everything is good in their relationship, that any problems are her fault or “in her head”.
  • She may have grown up with violence- so she may consider her own relationship normal.
  • Many times a woman does not want the relationship to end. She loves her husband or boyfriend and she just wants the violence to end. She may believe that her love can change her husband, boyfriend, or significant other's behavior.
  • She may feel shame about being abused and reluctant to let anyone know that abuse it occurring in her relationship.
  • She may not know who to turn to for help or where to get assistance.
  • She may face language barriers to seeking help or independence, and may fear deportation.

The Effect of Domestic Violence on Children

  • Studies have found that child abuse occurs in up to 70% of families that experience domestic violence.
  • 40 to 60% of men who abuse women also abuse children
  • Between 3.3 and 10 million American children witness domestic violence annually.
  • In 43% of households where domestic violence occurs, at least one child under he age of 12 lives in the home.
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems including depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers.
  • Children who witness domestic violence are more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, and engage in teen prostitution.
  • Children fail to report domestic violence or sexual abuse because of shame, fear of retaliation, or fear of not being believed.

Safety Planning

Studies show that domestic violence homicides increase by 75% when a woman tries to leave or end an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, domestic violence homicides often happen after a woman leaves her abuser, so leaving doesn't always mean safety. We are not sharing this information to cause fear. We care about you and want you to be aware of the risks involved and understand the importance of planning for safety. If you or someone you know is planning on leaving an abusive relationship or taking any legal or financial steps to separate, safety planning is critical to you and your families health and well-being.

  • If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or arrange a signal with a neighbor or a friend to call 911.
  • Call a local domestic violence program or the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help, advice and support. Try to memorize this number.
  • Leave some money, spare keys and a small bag of clothes for you and your children at work or at a friend's house. If you have small children, include a favorite toy or doll that will comfort them.
  • Put together important documents or copies of documents such as passports, birth certificates, social security cards, insurance papers, work permits or green cards, ownership documents for car and/or house, checkbooks and bank accounts for yourself and your children. Hide these papers at work or at a friend's house. Know the abuser's social security number, birth date and place of birth.
  • Document the abuse by having a neighbor or friend take photos of bruises and injuries, tell your doctor and get copies of your medical records. Save any threatening voice mails or emails and write each incident down in a journal. All of this will be helpful should you decide to take legal action in the future.
  • Obtain an order of protection. An order of protection prohibits the abuse from contacting, attacking, sexually assaulting or telephoning you, your children and other family members. Call a local domestic violence program or the National Domestic Violence Hotline for legal assistance. Carry a copy of the order of protection with you at ALL times.
  • Inform your employer about your situation so they can set up a safety plan at work. Share a photo description of the abuser with them and any pertinent legal documentation, such as an order of protection.

We hope that this information can be of assistance to you. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to Email us at [email protected]