Help for Abused and Battered Women
You are not to blame for being battered or mistreated.
You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior.
You deserve to be treated with respect.
You deserve a safe and happy life.
Your children deserve a safe and happy life.
You are not alone. There are people waiting to help.
He minimizes the abuse or denies how serious it really
He continues to blame others for his behavior.
He claims that you’re the one who is abusive.
He pressures you to go to couple’s counseling.
He tells you that you owe him another chance.
You have to push him to stay in treatment.
He says that he can’t change unless you stay with him
and support him.
He tries to get sympathy from you, your children, or
your family and friends.
He expects something from you in exchange for getting
He pressures you to make decisions about the
Services for your children
Protecting Yourself and Escaping from Domestic Violence
Getting out of an abusive or violent relationship isn’t easy.
Maybe you’re still hoping that things will change or you’re afraid
of what your partner will do if he discovers you’re trying to
leave. Whatever your reasons, you probably feel trapped and
helpless. But help is available. There are many resources
available for abused and battered women, including crisis
hotlines, shelters—even job training, legal services, and
childcare. You deserve to live free of fear. Start by reaching out.
Getting out of an abusive relationship
If you need immediate assistance, call 911 or your local
For domestic violence helplines and shelters, click here .
If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, read Help for
Why doesn’t she just leave? It’s the question many people ask
when they learn that a woman is being battered and abused. But
if you are in an abusive relationship, you know that it’s not that
simple. Ending an important relationship is never easy. It’s even
harder when you’ve been isolated from your family and friends,
psychologically beaten down, financially controlled, and
If you’re trying to decide whether to stay or leave, you may be
feeling confused, uncertain, frightened, and torn. One moment,
you may desperately want to get away, and the next, you may
want to hang on to the relationship. Maybe you even blame
yourself for the abuse or feel weak and embarrassed because
you’ve stuck around in spite of it. Don’t be trapped by confusion,
guilt, or self-blame. The only thing that matters is your safety.
If you are being abused, remember:
Help for abused and battered women: Making
the decision to leave
As you face the decision to either end the abusive relationship or
try to save it, keep the following things in mind:
If you’re hoping your abusive partner will change… The
abuse will probably happen again. Abusers have deep
emotional and psychological problems. While change is not
impossible, it isn’t quick or easy. And change can only
happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for his
behavior, seeks professional treatment, and stops blaming
you, his unhappy childhood, stress, work, his drinking, or his
If you believe you can help your abuser… It’s only natural
that you want to help your partner. You may think you’re the
only one who understands him or that it’s your responsibility
to fix his problems. But the truth is that by staying and
accepting repeated abuse, you’re reinforcing and enabling
the abusive behavior. Instead of helping your abuser, you’re
perpetuating the problem.
If your partner has promised to stop the abuse… When facing
consequences, abusers often plead for another chance, beg
for forgiveness, and promise to change. They may even
mean what they say in the moment, but their true goal is to
stay in control and keep you from leaving. But most of the
time, they quickly return to their abusive behavior once
they’ve been forgiven and they’re no longer worried that
If your partner is in counseling or a program for batterers…
Even if your partner is in counseling, there is no guarantee
that he’ll change. Many abusers who go through counseling
continue to be violent, abusive, and controlling. If your
partner has stopped minimizing the problem or making
excuses, that’s a good sign. But you still need to make your
decision based on who he is now, not the man you hope he
If you’re worried about what will happen if you leave… You
may be afraid of what your abusive partner will do, where
you’ll go, or how you’ll support yourself or your children. But
don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous,
Signs that your abuser is NOT changing:
Help for abused and battered women: Safety
Whether or not you’re ready to leave your abuser, there are
things you can do to protect yourself. These safety tips can
make the difference between being severely injured or killed and
escaping with your life.
Prepare for emergencies
Know your abuser’s red flags. Be on alert for signs and clues
that your abuser is getting upset and may explode in anger or
violence. Come up with several believable reasons you can
use to leave the house (both during the day and at night) if
you sense trouble brewing.
Identify safe areas of the house. Know where to go if your
abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed
spaces without exits (such as closets or bathrooms) or
rooms with weapons (such as the kitchen). If possible, head
for a room with a phone and an outside door or window.
Come up with a code word. Establish a word, phrase, or
signal you can use to let your children, friends, neighbors, or
co-workers know that you’re in danger and the police should
Make an escape plan
Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Keep the car fueled
up and facing the driveway exit, with the driver’s door
unlocked. Hide a spare car key where you can get it quickly.
Have emergency cash, clothing, and important phone
numbers and documents stashed in a safe place (at a
friend’s house, for example).
Practice escaping quickly and safely. Rehearse your escape
plan so you know exactly what to do if under attack from
your abuser. If you have children, have them practice the
escape plan also.
Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts. Ask
several trusted individuals if you can contact them if you
need a ride, a place to stay, or help contacting the police.
Memorize the numbers of your emergency contacts, local
shelter, and domestic violence hotline.
If You Stay
If you decide at this time to stay with your abusive partner,
there are some things you can try to make your situation
better and to protect yourself and your children.
Contact the domestic violence/sexual assault program
in your area. They can provide emotional support, peer
counseling, safe emergency housing, information, and
other services while you are in the relationship, as well
as if you decide to leave.
Build as strong a support system as your partner will
allow. Whenever possible, get involved with people and
activities outside your home and encourage your
children to do so.
Be kind to yourself! Develop a positive way of looking
at yourself and talking to yourself. Use affirmations to
counter the negative comments you get from the
abuser. Allow yourself time for doing things you enjoy.
Source: Breaking the Silence Handbook
Help for abused and battered women:
Protecting your privacy
You may be afraid to leave or ask for help out of fear that your
partner will retaliate if he finds out. This is a legitimate concern.
However, there are precautions you can take to stay safe and
keep your abuser from finding out what you’re doing. When
seeking help for domestic violence and abuse, it’s important to
cover your tracks, especially when you’re using the phone or the
Phone safety for abused and battered women
When seeking help for domestic violence, call from a public pay
phone or another phone outside the house if possible. In the
U.S., you can call 911 for free on most public phones, so know
where the closest one is in case of emergency.
Avoid cordless telephones. If you’re calling from your home,
use a corded phone if you have one, rather than a cordless
phone or cell phone. A corded phone is more private, and
less easy to tap.
Call collect or use a prepaid phone card. Remember that if
you use your own home phone or telephone charge card, the
phone numbers that you call will be listed on the monthly bill
that is sent to your home. Even if you’ve already left by the
time the bill arrives, your abuser may be able to track you
down by the phone numbers you’ve called for help.
Check your cell phone settings. There are cell phone
technologies your abuser can use to listen in on your calls or
track your location. Your abuser can use your cell phone as
a tracking device if it has GPS, is in “silent mode,” or is set to
“auto answer.” So consider turning it off when not in use or
leaving it behind when fleeing your abuser.
Get your own cell phone. Consider purchasing a prepaid cell
phone or another cell phone that your abuser doesn’t know
about. Some domestic violence shelters offer free cell phones
to battered women. Call your local hotline to find out more.
Computer and Internet safety for abused and battered women
Abusers often monitor their partner’s activities, including their
computer use. While there are ways to delete your Internet
history, this can be a red flag to your partner that you’re trying to
hide something, so be very careful. Furthermore, it is almost
impossible to clear a computer of all evidence of the websites
that you have visited, unless you know a lot about computers.
Use a safe computer. If you seek help online, you are safest if
you use a computer outside of your home. You can use a
computer at work, a friend’s house, the library, your local
community center, or a domestic violence shelter or agency.
Be cautious with email and instant messaging. Email and
instant messaging are not the safest way to get help for
domestic violence. Be especially careful when sending email,
as your abuser may know how to access your account. You
may want to consider creating a new email account that your
abuser doesn’t know about.
Change your user names and passwords. Create new
usernames and passwords for your email, online banking,
and other sensitive accounts. Even if you don’t think your
abuser has your passwords, he may have guessed or used a
spyware or keylogging program to get them. Choose
passwords that your abuser can’t guess (avoid birthdays,
nicknames, and other personal information).
Protecting yourself from GPS surveillance and recording
Your abuser doesn’t need to be tech savvy in order to use
surveillance technology to monitor your movements and
listen in on your conversations. Be aware that your abuser
may be using hidden cameras, such as a “Nanny Cam,” or
even a baby monitor to check in on you. Global Positioning
System (GPS) devices are also cheap and easy to use.
GPS devices can be hidden in your car, your purse, or other
objects you carry with you. Your abuser can also use your
car’s GPS system to see where you’ve been.
If you discover any tracking or recording devices, leave
them be until you’re ready to leave. While it may be
tempting to remove them or shut them off, this will alert