• Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse.
  • Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of people across the United States. Domestic violence does not discriminate – it can affect anyone, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or educational background.

There are many reasons why it may be hard to leave an abusive relationship. Statistics show that, on average, it takes a woman 7 to 11 tries before she successfully leaves her abuser. Here are a few reasons why someone may not be able or willing to leave their abusive partner:

Fear: Abusers often threaten over and over that they will hurt the victim, their children, a pet, a family member or friend, or themselves. Abusers may even threaten to kill the victim if he/she leaves.

Low Self-Esteem: Abusers oftentimes put their partners down and degrade them, which can make the victim think that the abuse is her fault and that she deserves that kind of treatment.

Money: Victims may depend on their abuser for financial support, and may not have the economic means to support themselves if they leave the relationship.

Children: It is very common for victims to stay with their abusers because they do not want to ‘break up’ their family. Additionally, they may be afraid that the abuser will take the children away or harm the children if she leaves.

A Protection from Abuse Order is a binding civil court order that prohibits batterers from harming their victims again. These orders serve as a critical component to ensure the safety of a battered woman. If a batterer violates a PFA, he may face indirect criminal contempt charges and could also be fined $1,000 and/or jailed for up to six months.

  • In addition to ordering the abuse to cease, PFA’s may also include the following:
    • Directing a batterer to have no contact with the victim and/or her family
    • Confiscating a batterer’s weapons
    • Evicting the batterer from the home
    • Directing the batterer not to stalk the victim
  • Individuals who are experiencing domestic abuse at the hands of a current or former spouse, family member, or intimate partner, and can show probable cause of why the protection is needed, may be eligible for a PFA.
  • To get a PFA, call DVSCP at 1-800-852-2102. Clients will meet with an advocate who will document the incidents of abuse and file the PFA petition. There is no fee for filing a PFA. For the PFA to go into effect, victims will need to appear in front of a judge.
  • Researchers estimate that between 3 million and 10 million children in the United States are exposed to domestic violence each year.
    • They can be harmed by intentional injuries inflicted by the abuser, and also by unintentional injuries from violence directed towards someone else.   Children can also be emotionally abused when an abuser uses them as a pawn to coercively control the abused parent.
  • Domestic violence affects children in a variety of ways that can be exhibited in their emotional, behavioral, social and physical development. These problems, when compared with children who have not witnessed domestic violence, can include aggression, depression, anxiety, lower levels of self-esteem and below-average academic performance. Since violence is a learned behavior, witnessing domestic violence can also influence how a child may condone or use violence in their own lives, especially for boys.

Yes, men can be victims of domestic abuse. Male victims can access the same services as female victims. If a male victim is in need of shelter, DVSCP would house him at a hotel rather than at the emergency shelter.


  • Move away from the kitchen, dining room or any place in the home where there are sharp, dangerous objects.
  • Plan the easiest escape – decide on a door or window where you can exit the home quickly and safely.
  • Find a neighbor, friend, or family member you can trust to help you and your children.


  • Put some money away, even if you can only save a little every week.
  • Make copies of important documents and put them in a safe place. Some important items are: birth certificates, legal papers, photo IDs, driver’s license, etc.


  • Change the locks on your doors.
  • Learn about your legal rights.
  • Tell neighbors, friends, landlords, or coworkers that your partner no longer lives with you and show them a photo so they know who to look for.
  • Keep a safety plan for coming and going from your home, work and children’s school. Make sure you teach your children about your safety plan.