A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave.
Domestic Violence is not just a one-time incident, but a pattern of behaviors over time. Most abusive relationships follow a cycle of violence, which has three stages: tension building, explosive incident, and honeymoon stage. The lengths of each stage can vary from seconds to years.
During the Tension Building Phase the warning signs of abuse begin to appear. They may repeat, they may change each time, but they are there.
During the Abusive Phase the abuse occurs. It may be mental, physical, or sexual, but it is always an intense outburst.
During the Honeymoon Phase the abuser tries to justify or minimize the abuse. They may treat the victim with extreme kindness as they try to "make up" for the attack and try to keep the victim from fleeing. The abuser may also try to make the victim feel responsible for the abuse, so they will not blame the abuser and press charges.
As a cycle, the phases repeat themselves: after the honeymoon stage, the tension eventually starts building again, which leads to another explosive incident. Over time, the tension building phase takes less time to lead to the explosion, which becomes more violent and dangerous, and the honeymoon stage becomes shorter and shorter.
Domestic Violence is not always easy to recognize, but the signs are usually there. Abuse can be in many forms, from emotional to physical to sexual. The following are some of the signs that the person you are with may be abusive:
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There are many myths surrounding domestic violence. Below we have listed many of the most common myths, along with the facts regarding those myths.
Myth: Domestic Violence is not a common occurrence.
Fact: A national study found that 29% of women and 22% of men had experienced physical, sexual, or psychological intimate partner violence during their lifetime. In te United States every year, about 1.5 million women and more than 800,000 men are raped or physically assaulted by an intimate partner. This translates into about 47 intimate partner assaults per 1,000 women and 32 assaults per 1,000 men.
Myth: If you are not physically injured it is not abuse.
Fact: Abuse can come in many forms, such as sexual, physical, verbal, and emotional. When a person in a relationship repeatedly scares, hurts, or puts down the other person, it is abuse. Harassment, intimidation, forced or coerced isolation from friends and family and having an independent social life, humiliation, threats of harm to you or your family or pets, threats of suicide if you leave, violating your privacy, limiting your independence and personal choices are all examples of abuse.
Myth: Alcohol and / or drug abuse causes domestic violence.
Fact: Drinking and drug abuse lowers inhibitions or control over violent behavior, but use of the substance may be used as an excuse to let down the inhibitions. According to statistics, one-third of batterers do not drink or use illegal substances at all.
Myth: Domestic violence is behavior that is "out of control" and unintentional.
Fact: Physical abuse is often the most serious aspect of a course of conduct intended to subject the victim tot he control of the abuser. Other controlling behaviors may include intimidation, economic control, using children as weapons, destruction of property, and isolation of the victim. The abuser's behavior is designed to gain control, and is definitely intentional.
Myth: Sexual abuse is not a common form of domestic violence.
Fact: Domestic violence takes on many forms, from emotional and psychological abuse to physical and sexual abuse. Sexual abuse ranges from true sexual assault, to harassment, to exploitation. Sexual abuse often is linked to physical abuse; they may occur together, or the sexual abuse may occur before or after an incident of physical abuse.
Myth: Men are not victims of domestic violence,
Fact: Males are victims of domestic violence almost as often as females. Studies have shown that for every 47 women who are abused, there are at least 32 men who are abused. Male victims are not rare, nor are they more "effeminate" than average.
Myth: Elder abuse is rare.
Fact: Elder abuse is on the rise. As the population grows older, so does instances of abuse towards older people, especially women. The abuse takes many forms, such as physical abuse, sexual abuse, and emotional abuse. Two other common forms of elder abuse are neglect (such as failure to provide food, clothing, personal care, or access to health care) and financial abuse (such as stealing of money or property, committing fraud through undue influence, or withholding funds for necessary medical supplies and food). The vast majority of elder abuse is perpetrated by a family member, in order to gain and maintain power and control in a relationship.
Myth: Children who are raised in an abusive household, but are not abused themselves, are not affected by the abuse.
Fact: The psychological impact of being raised in an abusive household can be profound. Many children develop cognitive and psychological problems after having experienced abuse second-hand. Eating disorders, sleeping disorders, depression, aggressive behavior, destructive rages, stuttering, shaking, and declined problem-solving skills are all symptoms of such abuse. Males and females who see their parents physically attack each other are three times more likely to hit their own partners than those who have non-violent parents. The sons of the most violent parents have a rate of wife-beating 10 times greater than the sons of non-violent parents.
Myth: Animal abuse is rare / is not a sign of an abusive relationship.
Fact: Many abusers also injure pets and animals. Threats to injure or harm pets are used by many abusers to gain power over their victim. Threatening, injuring, or killing animals can indicate the potential for increased violence or lethality. Research has shown consistent patterns of animal cruelty among perpetrators of more common forms of violence, including child abuse, spouse abuse, and elder abuse. It is estimated that 88 percent of pets living in households with domestic abuse are either abused or killed. It is also estimated that of all the women who entered shelters to escape abuse, 57 percent have had a pet killed by their abuser.
Myth: Human trafficking is a myth.
Fact: Human trafficking is a fact, and the numbers are increasing. Trafficking is modern-day slavery, using physical, psychological and/or sexual violence to extract enormous profits from the exploitation of another person. Many of them are forced to work against their will, not free to leave the workplace by themselves, are threatened by their boss, or their family is threatened by their boss. In many cases the boss took away their ID/passport and they cannot freely contact friends and family. Many of the victims are beaten, raped and sexually assaulted on a regular basis, and are forced into prostitution. Human trafficking is the third largest (and fastest growing) criminal industry in the world.