Domestic Violence Information

QUICK LINKS

Domestic Violence FAQ's
Signs of a Healthy Family - Equality Wheel

Safety Planning

Technology Warnings and Assistance

Is this Abuse?

Tactics of Abuse

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is domestic violence?


Domestic Violence is a pattern of one person trying to dominate or control another person. It is repetitive and it can take many forms. See “Weapons of Abuser” section for additional details.




How common is abuse in a relationship?


Most domestic violence is hidden behind closed doors, however current statistics approximate 1 out of every 3 women have experienced domestic violence.




Are there warning signs in a relationship?


A relationship is not healthy when…

  • Your value and your accomplishments are belittled;
  • Your opinions count for nothing;
  • You are called names that are embarrassing, hurtful and degrading;
  • Your likes and dislikes are disregarded;
  • You are intentionally kept away from family and friends;
  • There is extreme possessiveness or jealousy;
  • You are threatened;
  • You, your family, your work, your church and your friends are disrespected;
  • You are pushed, kicked or hurt;
  • Your faith is ridiculed;
  • Your every move is monitored;
  • You are denied access to food, money or other family resources;
  • You are blamed for all the problems.

*Adapted from Refuge from Abuse




How can someone recognize the presence of abuse in a relationship?


It is not easy to tell someone that you are being abused by someone you love. As a result, most battered wives choose to keep the secret for a long time. And when they do choose to disclose, they often do so in a way that minimizes the fear and the hurt. Almost all abuse victims feel alone, abandoned and afraid. They often blame themselves rather than their abuser for the violence. They may feel pressured to keep silence and to pretend that everything at home is okay. That is why it is so important to ask a woman whether or not it is safe for her to return home after she has sought your help for a family-related problem.




Why don’t women leave men who abuse them?


Fear is the most common response amongst victims of domestic violence. There is fear that the violence could escalate and fear of reprisal should they tell someone. Fear leads to secrecy. So much energy can be taken up by trying to pretend that everything is alright at home that there is little energy left over to take action. Many women are economically dependent on the men who abuse them. Others cling to the promise of changed behavior. Some women feel that they must stay in the marriage no matter what the cost. Others believe it is their personal cross to bear. On the whole, women who are abused want the violence to stop, not the relationship to come to an end.




Why do men hurt women that they claim to love?


Control is a central feature of abusive behavior. Abusive men attempt to control what happens at home and in the lives of their wives and children. Often they feel a sense of entitlement to services and emotional support from the women they love. When they believe they are not getting what they deserve, they use power and control to punish their wives or to achieve or maintain dominance. Sometime men who act abusively were violated as children or watched their fathers hurt their mothers. Others suffer from low self-esteem or struggle with addictions.




Can abusers change?


Some men who have acted abusively are determined to alter their violent ways and seek with the support of the wider community to change their behavior. Most do not. Yet, many abusive partners promise to change, and some even use religious language in an attempt to convince their wives, probation officers, pastors or facilitators in a batterer intervention program that they are new men. Change can happen, but it is slow process. It is often very difficult for the man involved and occurs under conditions of ongoing accountability (which may include justice, therapeutic and religious sources). Abusers’ statements that give abuse victims cause for hope include, “I understand why you were frightened of me.” Abusers’ statements that should worry abuse victims include, “I said I was sorry. What more do you want?”




What can the church do?


Religious congregations and their leaders help women to address the spiritual questions that surface when abuse impacts their relationships and home. The language of the spirit speaks of healing and of connecting with God and with sisters and brothers in God’s family. When the resources of the community are brought together with resources of the spiritual world, believers who have suffered abuse are given strength and support to combat even the greatest of fears. When clergy condemn abuse from the pulpit or in the privacy of their office, they bring hope and healing to women who have suffered. Christian women need to hear that abuse is always wrong, never part of God’s design for healthy family living.