To the Abused…

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

was.

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

help.

He pressures you to make decisions about the

relationship.

Legal help

Counseling

Support groups

Services for your children

Employment programs

Health-related services

9006672_origEducational opportunities

Financial assistance

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

emergency service.

For domestic violence helplines and shelters, click here .

If you’re a man in an abusive relationship, read Help for

Abused Men.

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

physically threatened.

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

temper.

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

you’ll leave.

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

will become.

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,

unhealthy situation.

Signs that your abuser is NOT changing:

Help for abused and battered women: Safety

planning

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

be called.

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

computer.

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

devices

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

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