Domestic violence is a community issue!
Many people feel domestic violence is a women’s issue, but EVERYONE is affected by domestic violence. Victims/survivors, their children, family and friends, and even co-workers and employers are impacted by the far reaching physical, emotional and financial costs of domestic violence. Domestic violence can affect all areas of a victim’s life including personal safety, housing, employment, financial independence, health status, parenting effectiveness, educational achievement and much more. Because of the significance of domestic violence, it is a community issue which requires a coordinated response by private citizens, agencies, and businesses to end all forms of domestic violence. We can all help to end relationship violence.
What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior used by one person to gain and maintain power and control over another person. Domestic violence is an intentional course of behavior which is NOT about anger, stress, alcohol or other substance abuse.
Some forms of domestic violence are overt: i.e. hitting, shoving, pushing, biting, slapping, pinching, strangling and other forms of physical violence. In many cases, the signs and forms of violence are more subtle and can be difficult to recognize.
According to the NH Violence Against Women Survey:
- It is estimated that 166,131 women in New Hampshire have experienced physical assault by an intimate partner. That number is greater than the population of Manchester and Concord combined by almost 14,000.
- For the majority of victims of either sexual or physical assault, the perpetrator of the most recent assault was someone they knew.
- 17% of all men in the study reported experiencing both sexual and physical violence.
- On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country everyday.
- Women ages 20-24 years of age are the greatest risk for intimate partner violence.
- 40% of teenager girls, ages 14-17 say they know someone their age that has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- Homicide is the leading cause of death for pregnant women in the United States.
Children are often the forgotten victims of domestic violence:
- Studies suggest that between 3.3 and 10 million children are exposed to domestic violence annually.
- In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.
- Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.
- Men who as children were exposed to their parents' domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own wives as sons of nonviolent parents.
- Children who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems including depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers. They are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.
-From the Family Violence Prevention Fund Website
Some examples of more subtle forms are identified in the Power and Control Wheel above. Additional forms of abuse may include:
- Withholding immigration paperwork or identification
- Threatening to have the victim deported
- Undermining parenting decisions
- Abuse of pets
- Engaging the children in the abuse
- Using custody, visitation or child support to maintain control over the victim
- Restricting or monitoring the victims use of telephone, computer, car or other necessities
- Withholding medical benefits or insurance
- Disconnecting utilities when the victim gets a protective order
- Uses the court system against the victim
- Self-harm reported to law enforcement as domestic violence related injuries
- Threatening to take the kids away either themselves or through child protective services
Who experiences Domestic Violence?
You, a loved one, a friend, a co-worker or a neighbor may have experienced domestic violence. You may have been exposed to domestic violence through witnessing violence as a child, current relationships, or past relationships. You may have witnessed domestic violence at work, school, or in the community through friends, family or even a client or patient. Domestic violence affects victims young and old, healthy and infirm, wealthy and people living in poverty, employed and unemployed regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation/identity, educational status, and relationship status, religious or political affiliation.
Why does the victim stay with an abusive partner?
No one plans to become involved in a relationship that becomes violent. The coercive pattern of domestic violence occurs in the Cycle of Violence which perpetuates the violence. Hope that the abuse will end and fear of the partner also continues the cycle.
Some of the other reasons victims do not feel safe leaving include:
- She/he’s tried to leave before and was found.
- The children will have to leave schools or live in a shelter.
- The abuser controls all the finances.
- Fear: she/he has been threatened that things will get worse if she/he leaves.
- Friends and family may blame her/him for the abuse.
- Clergy, police, therapists, or other social workers blame her/him.
- She/he blames herself/himself.
- No one believes she/he is being abused.
- She/he doesn’t believe she/he is being abused.
- Her/his partner was abused as a child.
- Her/his partner has an alcohol or drug problem.
- She/he was abused as a child.
- She/he has an alcohol or drug problem.
- The abuser threatens to kill her or the children.
- The abuser threatens suicide.
- She/he can’t speak English.
- Her cultural community will abandon or shun her.
- She/he does not have legal status in this country.
- She/he or her/his partner is a public figure.
- She/he can’t read or write.
- Religious or spiritual beliefs.
- Leaving does not guarantee safety.
How do I get help for me or someone I care about?
- Listen and believe the victim.
- Always remember that it is not the victim’s fault.
- Validate the victim’s feelings and strength.
- Help the victim understand it is not her/his fault.
- Help any children understand that it is not their fault.
- Support the victim’s right to make her/his own choices about how to handle the violence.
- Provide accurate information about community services.
- Encourage the victim to call the Crisis Service.
- Get informed about domestic violence and how to stop it.
- Get to a safe location.
- Call the police if you are in immediate danger at 911.
- Call a friend, family member, or the YWCA 24 hour crisis line at 603-668-2299.
- Get medical attention for any injuries. A YWCA advocate can meet you at the hospital, police department, medical facility or your own doctor’s office.
- Ask police for an Emergency Protective Order.
- Assess whether it is safe to remain in your home and seek emergency shelter if necessary.
During violent incidents or arguments:
- Avoid the kitchen and bathrooms where there are sharp objects.
- Go to areas where there are two ways to get out of the room (doors or windows).
- If your partner gets physically violent, drop to the floor, curl into a ball, and cover your head to avoid serious injury.
- Yell “FIRE” OR “HELP”. This will attract helpers by.
- Dial 911 from a landline phone. Even if you do not talk, the police will respond to your address.
- Choose a hiding place for your child(ren) to go until the violence is over.
- When the violent incident is over, call for support when you can. Re-assess your safety plan with a crisis center advocate.
Domestic Violence Petitions (DVPs)
There are many ways victim survivors can reduce risks while coping with a domestic violence relationship. Ultimately, the responsibility for the violence lies solely and completely with the abuser. It is rare that the abusive partner will choose voluntarily to end the abuse and sometimes victims may have to take action to protect themselves.
A victim may want to consider getting a protective order to keep her/him and the children safe while deciding how to handle the domestic violence relationship. Domestic Violence Petitions or Restraining Orders (DVPs or ROs) may be obtained at District or Family Court. Occasionally, an advocate may recommend getting the protective order in superior court if there are children involved or if there are other legal matters pending. If you are not sure about where to go for a protective order, call the the YWCA Crisis Service or come in to meet with an advocate to discuss your options.
Things to know about DVPs/TROs:
- There must be an intimate partner or familial relationship to qualify for a DVP.
- There must be an act of real or threatened harm under NH RSA 173B.
- There must be a need for protection, the victim must be in fear for their safety, or there is credible imminent danger to oneself.
- You must have a photo ID to present at court.
- Orders must be served in hand to the defendant for the order to be in effect.
- A temporary order is good for 30 days and a final hearing will be set within that time for a final order.
- The defendant has the right to request an expedited hearing which is scheduled within 3-5 days of the request.
- The defendant is usually not present at the temporary hearing.
- You must be at least 12 years old to get a protective order.
- Final orders are usually granted for 1 year.
- DVPs are not criminal complaints. They are only served by law enforcement.
- Use of home, car and child custody and child support can be established at the final hearing.
- You do not have to go through this process alone. An advocate can meet you at court or at the office to assist you through the process and answer any questions you may have.
Safety Note: There are cases where a DVP or TRO are not safe or “right” for the victim. Victims’ are the experts of their relationships and their partners, and knows how a DVP may escalate violence or make their home more unsafe. It can be difficult for friends, family members, and others to understand why a victim may not want to get a DVP. There are many other safety options which can be explored at the YWCA Crisis Service.
Preparing to Leave
For some victims, the safest course of action is to leave the domestic violence relationship and the shared residence. This is not an easy decision. Some victims flee immediately, while others will prepare by:
Gathering the following (make copies if necessary):
- Birth certificates
- Green cards/visa
- Insurance cards
- Social security Cards
- School records
- Medical records
- Driver’s license
- Photo ID
- Divorce/custody papers
- Lease/deed to house
- Clothing & sentimental items
Once You Leave & You’re Safe
- Seek safe and confidential housing through friends or family or your local domestic violence crisis service.
- Change your address at the post office & use the confidential address program (see your crisis service for help with this program).
- Notify any agency (DCYF, TANF, NHEP etc.) where you get services or receive benefits so the abuser can not access your accounts.
- Take your name off any shared utility accounts or bank accounts.
- If you do not get a protective order, you may want to seek an emergency custody order from your local superior court.
- Change your license plate number if you own a vehicle.
- Avoid using cell phones or any electronic card or banking as this can be easily used to track your location.
- Use up any current EBT or cash benefits prior to leaving for a new safe location as this can be tracked.
- Be cautious about sharing your location or contact information even with family and friends who may appear supportive.
- Register any protective orders with local law enforcement in towns where you live or visit frequently.
Reporting the Assault to the Police
Whether you seek medical attention or not, you have the right to report domestic violence to the police. You may call 911 to have an officer respond to the scene of the assault or to your home. You may also walk-in to the local police department and file a report there. You do not have to do this alone. An advocate can meet you at the local police department and offer emotional support while you file the report. The YWCA Crisis Service covers the following cities and towns:
- Manchester Police Department 668-8711
- Derry Police Department 432-6111
- Goffstown Police Department 497-4858
- Londonderry Police Department 432-1118
- Weare Police Department 529-7755
- Auburn Police Department 483-2134
- New Boston Police Department 487-2433
- Bedford Police Department 472-5113
- Deering Police Department 464-3127
When reporting a domestic assault, most often a uniformed patrol officer will take the initial report. That report is then assigned to an investigating officer who will contact the victim for a follow-up interview.
Victims/survivors are under no obligation to report domestic assaults to law enforcement. Some survivors say that reporting the crime to law enforcement helped them to feel safer and reclaim their power by holding the perpetrators accountable. However, for others, the criminal justice process can feel overwhelming. Advocates can support victims/survivors who would like to use the criminal justice system through the court process. You do not have to do this alone.