If you know someone who is being abused by her partner…
“The abuse can’t be that bad, besides I know her partner would never do any
Many abusers are charming and nonviolent in other situations but can be extremely
dangerous in their homes. Battering is a crime and it is often devastating for those
living with it. Thirty percent of women murdered in the United States are murdered
by their intimate partners.
“The abuser must be sick, crazy, or has an alcohol or drug problem.”
Even if the abuser does have an addiction, is mentally ill, was abused as a child, or is
stressed, that does not excuse the violence. Battering is a learned behavior.
“I wish she would just leave.”
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. She has a lot of things to think about: Where is
she going to live? How will she support herself? Her partner knows where she works,
will she have to change jobs? Will her kids have to change schools? Will she lose
custody of them? If they have joint custody, how will she protect them from abuse if
she isn’t around? Will her partner ignore a restraining order? If her partner is another
woman, will she be outed? Will she be killed if she seeks a divorce?
“I know it’s hard but won’t leaving make things better?”
Women are often in great danger of injury or death when they take steps to leave a
relationship with an abuser. Ending the relationship is not the same thing as ending
the violence. Many women are stalked, harassed, and assaulted when they leave. If
she decides she wants to leave, she will need to plan carefully to leave as safely as
“Aren’t there public agencies, courts, police, and others who can keep her safe?”
They can certainly help but there are no guarantees. The Secret Service, with all its
manpower and resources, cannot keep the President safe from someone determined to
“So what CAN she do?”
She can contact a domestic violence project to learn her legal rights and options, find
out about resources available in her community, and receive support and crisis
She may be eligible for a restraining order. A restraining order is an order from a
judge warning the abuser to stop the violence and to stay away from the protected
person. It can also order other things to help keep women safe such as: who gets to
stay in the home, child custody, visitation, and support, etc. She should contact her
local clerk of court or domestic violence project for more information about
She can make a safety plan. She can plan ahead of time for what she would do and
what she would need if she had to leave in an emergency. She can make copies of
important papers, keys, etc., and keep them and a change of clothes in a safe place.
She can arrange a special signal to tell the neighbors that she’s in trouble and needs
them to call 911.
She knows her partner best so she is the expert on her situation. But even an expert
needs information and support.
“What can I do?”
Become knowledgeable about domestic violence.
Give her the number of a domestic violence project.
Do not take choices out of her hands. Acting without her permission could put her in
greater danger. There are two exceptions to this: if an assault is occurring you should
call 911, and if you are a mandatory child abuse reporter, you must report if you
believe that child abuse is happening.
Listen and be supportive.
“I feel awkward bringing up the abuse.”
If it is hard for you, imagine what it is like being the one who is abused. Here are
some conversation starters:
What’s it like at home for you?
Are you ever scared of your partner?
How does your partner handle it when s/he doesn’t get his/her way?
Sometimes when people have injuries like yours it’s because they were hurt by their
partner. Is that happening to you?
“What else should I say to her?”
You are not alone.
You are not to blame.
There is help available.
You do not deserve to be treated this way.
I believe you.
I’m afraid for your safety.
It usually gets worse, not better.
I’m here for you. In what way can I be helpful?
“Is there anything I should not say?”
You shouldn’t put up with this.
Why don’t you just leave him/her?
Why do you let him/her do this to you?
How did you get involved with someone like this?
What did you do to provoke it?
What could you do to stop your partner from abusing you?
He/she is a real jerk (loser, slime, etc.)
You should go to marriage counseling together.
“But I want her to be safe now.”
Give it time. There is often a long time between people getting information about
resources and their willingness to act on it. They have to be very careful before they
make a move. Some women have carried the number of a crisis center around for
several years before they felt it was time to use it.
Don’t take a “tough love” approach. No matter how firm you are with her, she will
not leave her partner because you issue her ultimatums. She will leave when she feels
ready and when she thinks it is her safest option.
“What help is out there?”
There are many domestic violence projects in Iowa. Domestic violence projects, also
known as battered women shelters, do a lot more than provide a safe place to stay.
They provide advocacy, information, counseling, support, and referrals. There are
also state and national domestic violence hotlines that can give you more information
and help you find a project near you.
Iowa Domestic Abuse Hotline 1-800-942-0333
Planning a safe getaway!
Safety planning for someone involved in an abusive relationship is a necessary and important step. Planning can be used while you are still with your abuser or after the relationship has ended. While still in an abusive relationship, your safety is of primary importance.
Safety Plan Guidelines
* Personal Safety with an Abuser
* Getting Ready to Leave
* General Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship
* After Leaving the Abusive Relationship
* For a Printable Personal Safety Plan Click Here
These safety suggestions have been compiled from safety plans distributed by state domestic violence coalitions from around the country. Following these suggestions is not a guarantee of safety, but could help to improve your safety situation.
Personal Safety with an Abuser
* Identify your partner’s use and level of force so that you can assess danger to you and your children before it occurs.
* Try to avoid an abusive situation by leaving.
* Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and there are ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.
* Don’t run to where the children are, as your partner may hurt them as well.
* If violence is unavoidable, make yourself a small target; dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and arms around each side of your head, fingers entwined.
* If possible, have a phone accessible at all times and know what numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest pay phone is located. Know the phone number to your local battered women’s shelter. Don’t be afraid to call the police.
* Let trusted friends and neighbors know of your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you need help.
* Teach your children how to get help. Instruct them not to get involved in the violence between you and your partner. Plan a code word to signal to them that they should get help or leave the house.
* Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that neither you, nor they, are at fault or are the cause of the violence, and that when anyone is being violent, it is important to stay safe.
* Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
* Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner of your plan or if your partner otherwise finds out about your plan.
* Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible.
* Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and keeping it fueled. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
* Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
* Create several plausible reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
* Call a domestic violence hotline periodically to assess your options and get a supportive understanding ear.
Getting Ready to Leave
* Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures.
* Know where you can go to get help; tell someone what is happening to you.
* If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
* Plan with your children and identify a safe place for them, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house where they can go for help. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
* Contact your local battered women’s shelter and find out about laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them during a crisis.
* Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made, if possible.
* Acquire job skills or take courses at a community college as you can.
* Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.
General Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship
* You may request a police stand-by or escort while you leave.
* If you need to sneak away, be prepared.
* Make a plan for how and where you will escape.
* Plan for a quick escape.
* Put aside emergency money as you can.
* Hide an extra set of car keys.
* Pack an extra set of clothes for yourself and your children and store them at a trusted friend or neighbor’s house. Try to avoid using the homes of next-door neighbors, close family members and mutual friends.
* Take with you important phone numbers of friends, relatives, doctors, schools, etc., as well as other important items, including:
o Driver’s license
o Regularly needed medication
o Credit cards or a list of credit cards you hold yourself or jointly
o Pay stubs
o Checkbooks and information about bank accounts and other assets
* If time is available, also take:
o Citizenship documents (such as your passport, green card, etc.)
o Titles, deeds and other property information
o Medical records
o Children’s school and immunization records
o Insurance information
o Copy of marriage license, birth certificates, will and other legal documents
o Verification of social security numbers
o Welfare identification
o Valued pictures, jewelry or personal possessions
You may also create a false trail. Call motels, real estate agencies and schools in a town at least six hours away from where you plan to relocate. Ask questions that require a call back to your house in order to leave phone numbers on record.
After Leaving the Abusive Relationship
If getting a restraining order and the offender is leaving:
* Change your locks and phone number.
* Change your work hours and route taken to work.
* Change the route taken to transport children to school.
* Keep a certified copy of your restraining order with you at all times.
* Inform friends, neighbors and employers that you have a restraining order in effect.
* Give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.
* Call law enforcement to enforce the order.
If you leave:
* Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail.
* Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports.
* Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.
* Change your work hours, if possible.
* Alert school authorities of the situation.
* Consider changing your children’s schools.
* Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of.
* Use different stores and frequent different social spots.
* Alert neighbors and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
* Talk to trusted people about the violence.
* Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible.
* Install a motion sensitive lighting system.
* Tell people you work with about the situation and have your calls screened by one receptionist if possible.
* Tell people who take care of your children who can pick up your children. Explain your situation to them and provide them with a copy of the restraining order.
* Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so that if you call anyone, neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 1998 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice.
http://www.ndvh.org/get-help/help-in-your-area/National Domestic Violence Hotline link
To find help in your state, call the National Domestic Violence
Hotline. To find out more information about domestic violence in your
state, call or write to one of the following state coalitions.
US Virgin Islands / Puerto
Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P. O. Box 4762
Montgomery, AL 36101
(334) 832-4842 Fax: (334) 832-4803
(800) 650-6522 Hotline
Alaska Network on Domestic and Sexual Violence
130 Seward Street, Room 209
Juneau, AK 99801
(907) 586-3650 Fax: (907) 463-4493
Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
100 W. Camelback Suite 109,
Phoenix, AZ 85013
(602) 279-2900 Fax: (602) 279-2980
(800) 782-6400 Nationwide
Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 170
Little Rock, AR 72201
(501) 907-5612 Fax: (501) 907-5618
(800) 269-4668 Nationwide
California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
P. O. Box 1798
Sacramento, CA 95812
(916) 444-7163 Fax: (916) 444-7165
(800) 524-4765 Nationwide
Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P. O. Box 18902
Denver, CO 80218
(303) 831-9632 Fax: (303) 832-7067
Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
90 Pitkin Street
East Hartford, CT 06108
(860) 282-7899 Fax: (860) 282-7892
(800) 281-1481 In State
(888) 774-2900 In State DV Hotline
Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
100 W. 10 th Street, #703
Wilmington, DE 19801
(302) 658-2958 Fax: (302) 658-5049
(800) 701-0456 Statewide
DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1718 P Street, Suite T-6
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
425 Office Plaza
Tallahassee, FL 32301
(850) 425-2749 Fax: (850) 425-3091
(850) 621-4202 TDD
(800) 500-1119 In State
Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 7532, Athens, GA 30604
Atlanta, GA 30354
(404) 209-0280 Fax: (404) 766-3800
Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
716 Umi Street, Suite 210
Honolulu, HI 96819-2337
(808) 832-9316 Fax: (808) 841-6028
Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
815 Park Boulevard, #140
Boise, ID 83712
(208) 384-0419 Fax: (208) 331-0687
(888) 293-6118 Nationwide
Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
801 S. 11 th Street
Springfield, IL 62703
(217) 789-2830 Fax: (217) 789-1939
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
1915 W. 18 th Street
Indianapolis, IN 46202
(317) 917-3685 Fax: (317) 917-3695
(800) 332-7385 In State
Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence
515 28th Street, #104
Des Moines, IA 50312
(515) 244-8028 Fax: (515) 244-7417
(800) 942-0333 In State Hotline
Kansas Coalition against Sexual and Domestic Violence
634 SW Harrison Street
Topeka, KS 66603
(785) 232-9784 Fax: (785) 266-1874
Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
P.O. Box 356
Frankfort, KY 40602
(502) 209-5381 Fax: (502) 695-2488
Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 77308
Baton Rouge, LA 70879
(225) 752-1296 Fax: (225) 751-8927
Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
170 Park Street
Bangor, ME 04401
(207) 941-1194 Fax: (207) 941-2327
Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
6911 Laurel-Bowie Road, #309
Bowie, MD 20715
(301) 352-4574 Fax: (301) 809-0422
(800) 634-3577 Nationwide
Jane Doe, Inc./Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence
14 Beacon Street, #507
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 248-0922 Fax: (617) 248-0902
TTY/TTD: (617) 263-2200
Michigan Coalition against Domestic & Sexual Violence
3893 Okemos Road, #B-2
Okemos, MI 48864
(517) 347-7000 Fax: (517) 347-1377
TTY: (517) 381-8470
Minnesota Coalition For Battered Women
1821 University Avenue West, #S-112
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 646-6177 Fax: (651) 646-1527
Crisis Line: (651) 646-0994
(800) 289-6177 Nationwide
Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence
P.O. Box 4703
Jackson, MS 39296
(601) 981-9196 Fax: (601) 981-2501
Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence
718 East Capitol Avenue
Jefferson City, MO 65101
(573) 634-4161 Fax: (573) 636-3728
Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 818
Helena, MT 59624
(406) 443-7794 Fax: (406) 443-7818
(888) 404-7794 Nationwide
Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition
825 M Street, #404
Lincoln, NE 68508
(402) 476-6256 Fax: (402) 476-6806
(800) 876-6238 In State
Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence
220 S. Rock Blvd. Suite 7,
Reno, NV 89502-2355
(775) 828-1115 Fax: (775) 828-9911
(800) 500-1556 In State
New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 353
Concord, NH 03302
(603) 224-8893 Fax: (603) 228-6096
(866) 644-3574 In State
New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women
1670 Whitehorse Hamilton Square
Trenton, NJ 08690
(609) 584-8107 Fax: (609) 584-9750
(800) 572-7233 In State
New Mexico State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
200 Oak NE, #4
Albuquerque, NM 87106
(505) 246-9240 Fax: (505) 246-9434
(800) 773-3645 In State
New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
350 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12054
(518) 482-5464 Fax: (518) 482-3807
(800) 942-6906 English-In State
(800) 942-6908 Spanish-In State
North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
115 Market Street, #400
Durham, NC 27701
(919) 956-9124 Fax: (919) 682-1449
(888) 232-9124 Nation wide
North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services
418 E. Rosser Avenue, #320
Bismark, ND 58501
(701) 255-6240 Fax: (701) 255-1904
(888) 255-6240 Nationwide
Action Ohio Coalition For Battered Women
P.O. Box 15673
Columbus, OH 43215
(614) 221-1255 Fax: (614) 221-6357
(888) 622-9315 In State
Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
3815 N. Sante Fe Ave., Suite 124
Oklahoma City, OK 73118
(405) 524-0700 Fax: (405) 524-0711
Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
380 SE Spokane Street, #100
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 230-1951 Fax: (503) 230-1973
Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
6400 Flank Drive, #1300
Harrisburg, PA 17112
(717) 545-6400 Fax: (717) 545-9456
(800) 932-4632 Nationwide
The Office of Women Advocates
Fernandez Juancus Station
Santurce, PR 00910
(787) 721-7676 Fax: (787) 725-9248
Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
422 Post Road, #202
Warwick, RI 02888
(401) 467-9940 Fax: (401) 467-9943
(800) 494-8100 In State
South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 7776
Columbia, SC 29202
(803) 256-2900 Fax: (803) 256-1030
(800) 260-9293 Nationwide
South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 141
Pierre, SD 57501
(605) 945-0869 Fax: (605) 945-0870
(800) 572-9196 Nationwide
Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
P.O. Box 120972
Nashville, TN 37212
(615) 386-9406 Fax: (615) 383-2967
(800) 289-9018 In State
Texas Council On Family Violence
P.O. Box 161810
Austin, TX 78716
(512) 794-1133 Fax: (512) 794-1199
(800) 525-1978 In State
Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
St. Croix, VI 00822
(340) 773-9272 Fax: (340) 773-9062
Utah Domestic Violence Council
205 North 400 West,
Salt Lake City, 84103
(801) 521-5544 Fax: (801) 521-5548
Vermont Network Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 405
Montpelier, VT 05601
(802) 223-1302 Fax: (802) 223-6943
Virginians Against Domestic Violence
2850 Sandy Bay Road, #101
Williamsburg, VA 23185
(757) 221-0990 Fax: (757) 229-1553
(800) 838-8238 Nationwide
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
101 N. Capitol Way, #302
Olympia, WA 98501
(360) 586-1022 Fax: (360) 586-1024
West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
4710 Chimney Drive, #A
Charleston, WV 25302
(304) 965-3552 Fax: (304) 965-3572
Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
307 S. Paterson Street, #1
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-0539 Fax: (608) 255-3560
Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
P.O. Box 236
409 South Fourth Street
Laramie, WY 82073
(307) 755-5481 Fax: (307) 755-5482
(800) 990-3877 Nationwide
US Virgin Islands / Puerto