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About Domestic Violence

Facts About Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one person´s systematic use of emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in order to have power and control over someone else. It is also referred to as abuse, assault, verbal abuse, intimate partner violence, "family" violence, wife battering, and spousal abuse.

How Can I Be Sure it is Domestic Violence?

If you are wondering whether your situation is domestic violence, ask yourself these questions:

Does someone you care about:

Do you:

If you answered "yes" to even one of these questions, and you want to talk to an advocate, call CARDV at 541-754-0110 or 1-800-927-0197. All calls are confidential.

What Domestic Violence Looks Like

Emotional Abuse

Violent relationships begin very much like any other relationship. There may be clues in the beginning, such as jealousy of her other friends or he may have rigid ideas about the roles "men" and "women" should have. He might even insist on making all the decisions. These behaviors are often romanticized in the media, and a woman might even be flattered by this attention initially.

Once in the relationship, the abuser begins to slowly erode the woman's self-esteem. The process is very similar to the brainwashing techniques inflicted on prisoners of war - in fact, a woman living in violence is a prisoner of war. The abuser may make hostile "jokes" about her habits and faults. He may insult her, ignore her feelings and withhold approval. He may yell at her and call her names. Threaten her. Blame her for all his troubles. Tell her she is nothing without him. Question her sense of reality. Most likely, he has isolated her from her friends and family, so the only "reality" in her life is what he is telling her. He may accuse her of being violent if she acts in any way to protect herself.

Who better mirrors our worth back to us than our chosen partner? It doesn't take long before she believes him. She becomes depressed and may consider, or even commit, suicide.

Physical Abuse

It is possible to exist in an emotionally abusive relationship, and never experience any physical abuse. But it is not possible for physical or sexual abuse to occur without the foundation of emotional abuse. By the time physical abuse begins, the woman frequently believes she is at fault and deserves what is happening to her. She might even be so desensitized to her situation that she doesn't even realize she is in danger. Like other forms of violence, physical abuse exists within a continuum, beginning with neglect and progressing through pinching squeezing pushing choking, hitting, and ultimately murder.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse includes any unwanted sexual contact. If “no” is not an option because of the threat of violence or further emotional abuse, it is sexual abuse. Sexual abuse could include the abuser making demeaning remarks about his partner’s body, using sexually demeaning names like “slut,” forcing her to perform sex acts she does not wish to, or raping her. Sexual violence exists on a continuum in our culture starting with viewing women as sex objects and ending with rape and murder.

Institutional or Social Abuse

Institutional, or social abuse, is the underlying fabric that creates the atmosphere allowing the other forms of violence to exist. Opportunities for women are abounding, but we still live in a world where men's contributions are more highly valued than women's. Economic and educational barriers still exist. Successful relationships are still viewed as the woman's responsibility, and if the children have problems, more than likely it will be the mother who is blamed. The legal institution is still predominantly male, as is the medical field. Girls are still being raised by the Cinderella/Prince Charming myth and are encouraged to be passive and sweet, while boys are encouraged to be bold and active.

Domestic Violence

The foundation of gender violence is the belief that males are dominant over females. This belief is reinforced by our social conditioning and the historical and social objectification of women. When one gender is believed to have more value than another, it is easier to diminish the people below, and even consider them sub-human.

Opportunities for women are abounding today, but we still live in a world where men’s contributions are more highly valued than women’s. Economic and educational barriers still exist. Successful relationships are viewed as the woman’s responsibility, and if the children have problems, more than likely it will be the mother who is blamed. The legal institution is predominantly male, as is the medical field. Girls are still being raised by the Cinderella/Prince Charming myth and are encouraged to be passive and sweet, while boys are encouraged to be bold and active. In mainstream media women are often depicted as objects which devalues them as people.

Most acts of domestic violence (more than 95%) are committed by men against their female partners. Domestic violence can also occur in same-sex relationships. Studies show that the majority of women who abuse male partners have been previously abused by these male partners and have resorted to violence in an effort to get them to stop. The next largest group of female batterers is women who have been abused by some other male partner in their past and now want to insure that no one will ever physically harm them again. The smallest group of female batterers is those who batter for the same reason males batter – in order to gain power and control over their partner.

Abusers utilize various tactics, including emotional, physical and sexual violence, to exert power and control over their victims.

When domestic violence is present, it is impossible to have an equal relationship. He will assume the power in the relationship, leaving his partner powerless, and dependent upon him. She will be compliant, or use force herself to get her needs met.

Domestic violence perpetrators believe themselves entitled to victimize their partners.

This notion of entitlement is held primarily by men. Women who use violence do not have a sense of entitlement, and often say “they’d better get away from him fast” afterwards because they fear being beaten. When a woman who has used violence in her relationship is asked, “Would you stop using violence today if he would?” she will most often answer yes. Males continue using violence in their relationships whether their partners fight back or not.

Many women don’t want to leave their violent relationship – they just want the violence to stop. When women do leave, they are more likely to be injured or killed by their violent partner.

The community has to hold the abuser accountable or domestic violence won’t end.

Recognizing an Abusive Person

The use of gender specific pronouns is for sentence simplification. CARDV services are available for all qualifying individuals.

The Oregon Women's Healthy and Safety Survey, "Intimate Partner Violence in Oregon," April 2004, reports: "Women's overall risk of Intimate Partner Violence is three times higher than men's risk, but this ratio becomes even more pronounced as the severity of the assault increases, with female victims far more likely to be seriously injured or killed. For example, women are about 2 to 3 times more likely than men to report that their partner pushed or shoved them, but 7 to 14 times more likely to report being beat up, choked, or threatened with a gun or knife. Furthermore, the rate of intimate partner homicide is four times higher for Oregon women than for Oregon men. (Oregon Department of Human Services - Office of Disease Prevention and Epidemiology)

If your partner has one or more of the following characteristics, you are in danger. The more characteristics from this list that your partner has, the more likely it is that emotional, physical or sexual violence will be used to control you.

Be cautious. Seek Support. Call CARDV at 754-0110 for information, safety planning, or shelter for you and your children.

Quick Involvement. Many abusers push for immediate commitment. He says: "I've never felt like this about anyone before," or "You are the first person who ever understood me."

Jealousy. An abuser is suspicious and controlling of his partner. He is unreasonably jealous and accuses her of flirting or having affairs. He is angry and jealous when his partner spends time with family or friends.

Rigid Sex Roles. An abuser has rigid ideas of what is a woman's "place." He sees women as being inferior.

Controlling Behavior. Abusers often make all the decisions in the relationship - which friends can visit, what movie to see, where they are going to live. Abusers often tell their partner what to wear, how to parent the children. Abusers often control all the money.

Isolation. Abusers often cut their partners off from family and friends. They say, "Those people are a bad influence on you," or "I miss you so much when you're gone - I want you home with me." Abusers often prevent their partners from using the car or the phone. Frequently abusers do not allow their partners to have a job, go to school, or go anywhere alone.

Blames Others. Abusers do not take responsibility for their actions or feelings. Someone else is always responsible. "My boss is out to get me." "If you hadn't pushed my buttons, I wouldn't have hit you." "I can't help getting angry - you make me mad."

Makes Excuses. Abusers make excuses for their behavior. "I was abused as a child." "I had no choice - you made me lose my temper."

Minimizes. An abuser minimizes his behavior. He says: "I was only joking. You are too sensitive." "I didn't hit you that hard."

Acts Like the Victim. When an abuser doesn't get what he wants, he believes he is the victim. He accuses his partner of being abusive if she defends herself.

Abusive to Children. Abusers often expect children to act much older than they are. They punish babies for crying, demand small children to sit quietly for long periods of time. They ridicule or "tease" children. A very high percentage of abusers also abuse children. Even if the abuser does not physically harm the children, if one of their parents is being threatened or hurt, the children are being abused.

Abusive to Animals. In homes where an animal is being abused, it is almost certain there is also domestic violence in the home.

Using "Playful" Force. What may first appear to be playful wrestling, quickly becomes something else. The abuser holds her down and then taunts her when she can't break free. He is letting her know that he is stronger than she is and he can overpower her.

Using Force During Arguments. Abusers often prevent their partners from leaving the room during an argument or hold them down. There is a very high probability they will use further and perhaps greater violence in future arguments.

Using Force in Sex. Abusers often like to act out "harmless" fantasies of rape and domination during sex. Or, they are more overt and rape their partner. Abusers often keep their partners up all night begging for sex until they finally give in. Abusers often have sex with their partner while the partner is sick, exhausted, or asleep.

Past Abuse. If the abuser has been abusive in a past relationship, he will likely be abusive again. "I hit my last girlfriend, but I was really stressed out and it was only once." Stress doesn't cause violence. If he made the choice to be abusive before, there is a good possibility he will choose violence again.

Threats. Threats should be taken seriously. Threats such as "I'll take the children away from you" and "I'm going to break your neck" are intended to control her behavior. Threats are not just "figures of speech" - they are ideas thought of by the abuser and they could be carried out.

Destroying Property. Abusers often put their fists through the wall or destroy their partner's beloved objects. The message in this behavior is, "I could hurt you like this too."

If You Are a Survivor of Domestic Violence

Remember that you are NOT to blame. Domestic violence is the abuser's fault, not yours.

You may have a whole range of feelings, including fear, shame, anger, shock, guilt, helplessness, distrust, self-doubt, depression. That's normal. Let yourself work through them.

Give yourself permission to make your own decisions. You may or may not want to report the abuse, may or may not want to talk to someone about it, may or may not want help in dealing with the situation. Right now it's important for you to have control over some part of your life. This may be difficult, and you may have mixed feelings about what to do. Give yourself permission to make the decisions that are best and healthiest for you. Talking to CARDV's hotline is a good way to get non-judgmental support and to find out about local resources.

You may get lots of advice, suggestions, and questions from other people. Some people may say things that sound like they are judging you, or trying to make you feel responsible for the abuse you have experienced. Remember that no matter what happened, no one deserves to be abused. It is not your fault.

Everyone handles it differently. You may find yourself behaving in ways you don't usually behave. You may have trouble concentrating or making decisions. You may not enjoy the same things you used to. These are normal responses to abuse. If you can find ways to be safer and improve your situation, go ahead and use them if even others may not approve.

Have a safety plan. Put together a safety plan. Find others you can turn to for help and support: perhaps sisters or brothers, friends, neighbors, members of your church or other community group. Gather the basic things you will need if you decide to leave: money, documents, medications, clothing, etc. Try to make sure you have a ride and a safe place to go. Know your legal rights such as how to get a restraining order. Call CARDV's 24-hour hotline for support and information.

Get help. You do not have to deal with this situation on your own. Although it is your choice whether to get help with an abusive situation, please remember that there are many community services now available to help women in your situation. They will respect your choices and work with you to decide what is best for your particular situation. Many people want violence to end. You deserve to have support. You are not alone. You deserve to be safe.

How to Help a Survivor of Domestic Violence

Believe her. Let her know you believe her.

Don't ask questions that blame her, such as "Why do you stay?" Remember that domestic violence is the fault of the abuser, not the survivor. Tell her the abuse is not her fault. She needs your help and support so she can make the decision to keep herself safe.

Encourage her to call CARDV's 24-hour hotline. (541-754-0110 or 1-800-927-0197)

Make sure she has information that can help her make decisions about her situation. Make her and yourself familiar with CARDV services and other community resources.

Offer support. Let her know you are available to drive her somewhere, give her a safe place to stay, help her obtain needed medications or other medical services, make copies of important documents, or any other help you feel you can safely provide. Put her in touch with other friends, family members, or support groups, if possible. Ask her how you can help keep her safe.

Be patient with her. Understand that she may go through a whole range of emotions. Do your best to really listen to her, support her, and encourage her. Don't try to rush her decision-making process, even if you think it is time for her to "get on with her life." Give her time.

Be gentle with her. Pay attention to her signals, and follow her lead about what she wants. If you are not sure what she wants or needs, ask her, then respect her wishes.

Encourage her to talk with someone who is trained to work with survivors of domestic violence. It can really help her to have support and information about others who are in similar situations and what services are available to her. Again, don't force her; let her make her own decisions.

Finally, take care of yourself. You may be upset and traumatized by what has happened to her. Remember that CARDV's 24-hour hotline is for you too.

Are you being treated with respect? Remember, when one person scares, hurts, or continually puts down another person; that's abuse - and it's not okay.
You do not deserve abuse.
Call CARDV at 754-0110.