Signs of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can happen to anybody. It is defined as a pattern of behavior that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner or household member. Usually people associate physical abuse with domestic violence; but the controlling behaviors can be verbal, psychological, financial, or emotional in nature. If you or someone you care about is in a difficult relationship, please explore the information in this section of the website or call AWARE at (517) 783-2861. We have trained advocates ready to hear from you anytime, 24-hours a day.
Domestic violence can take many different forms. It involves physical, verbal, emotional, mental, financial, and sexual abuse. At first, the control and manipulation your partner uses can be very subtle. Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions to determine if what you are experiencing is domestic violence:
- Do you feel you must “walk on eggshells” to avoid upsetting your partner?
- Does your partner put you down, call you names, or threaten you?
- Does your partner continually criticize what you wear, what you say, how you act, and how you look?
- Does your partner humiliate or make fun of you in public places and social situations?
- Has your partner threatened to hurt you or the children if you leave?
- Does your partner force you to have sex whether you want to or not?
- Have you been repeatedly accused of flirting or having sex with others?
- Does your partner restrict you from getting a job or going to school?
- Do you ever explain away bruises, cuts, or other injuries as results of how “clumsy” you are?
- Do you feel nervous or afraid for your safety when your partner becomes angry?
- Are you afraid to disagree with your partner?
- Are you frightened by your partner’s violence towards other people or animals?
- Has your partner intentionally damaged your possessions?
- Has your partner cut you off from family and friends or isolated you?
- Are you afraid that if you left you would be attacked, harassed, or followed?
- Does your partner make all the decisions or control the money?
- Has your partner pushed, slapped, kicked, choked, restrained, or hurt you?
- Are you afraid of your partner?
Answering yes to any of the above questions may indicate that you are being abused. Abuse usually escalates over time. Call AWARE’s 24-hour Crisis Hotline anytime at (517) 783-2861 for immediate help.
What Do I Do Now?
For more information and other resources on domestic violence, see our Resources page.
- Consider Your Safety
Consider Your Safety
Only you can decide whether it would be best for you to stay or leave your domestic violence situation. We encourage you to consider your safety first and foremost when choosing whether to remain in your home or seek shelter elsewhere. Although you can’t control your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about planning for safety. You can decide for yourself if and when you will tell others that you have been abused or that you are still at risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help protect you if they know what is happening and what they can do to help.
- When an argument begins, try to move to a room or area that has access to an exit. Avoid a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
- Practice how to get out of your home. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairway would be best.
- Devise a signal or code word to use with your family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
- Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence. Ask that neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home or a predetermined signal.
- Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to). This should be a safe place from which you can call for further assistance.
- Use your own instincts and judgment. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember – you don’t deserve to be hit or threatened!
- Open a savings account in your own name and start to establish or increase your independence.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it in a secret place that is easy to reach.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
- Keep AWARE’s 24-hour Crisis Hotline phone number ((517)783-2861) close at hand, or better yet, memorize it and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls. If using a cell phone store AWARE’s 24-hour Crisis Hotline as a different name, so your batterer cannot find it. Remember to clear your call log/call history.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember – leaving your batterer can be very dangerous!
- Contact an AWARE legal advocate at (517) 841-2952 about obtaining a Personal Protection Order (PPO). They are located on the first floor of the Jackson County Courthouse (312 S. Jackson Street, Jackson, MI 49201).
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional lock and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
- Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your partner near your home.
- If possible, obtain a P.O. Box and get an unlisted phone number.
- Keep your Personal Protection Order with you at all times. (If you change your purse or wallet, that should be the first thing that goes in it or else get multiple copies.)
- Call the police if your partner breaks the Personal Protection Order.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, and neighbors that you have a Personal Protection Order in effect.
- Document calls to the police, their responses, dates, times, etc.
- Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. (Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.)
- Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home. (i.e., in your car, on the bus, etc.)
- If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
- If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
- Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
- Decide whom you can talk freely and openly with to give you the support you need.
- Consider attending a domestic violence support group to gain support from others and learn more about you and the relationship.
- Deciding to Leave
Deciding to Leave
If you decide to leave your situation, you will want to take certain items with you. Remember, your safety is top priority. If you need to leave without these items in order to be safe, do so. Some people give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly.
- Children’s birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Social Security cards
- School and vaccination records
- Checkbook, ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) card
- Credit cards
- Keys & Spare Keys – house/car/office
- Driver’s license and registration
- DHS Bridge Card / Paperwork
- Work permits
- Green card
- Divorce papers
- Medical records – for all family members
- Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
- Bank books
- Insurance papers
- Address book
- Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
- Items of special sentimental value
- Important telephone numbers
- What Happens When You Come to the AWARE Shelter?
What Happens When You Come to the AWARE Shelter?
AWARE can be a place of refuge for you. Trained, compassionate staff provide confidential services for survivors of domestic, dating, and sexual violence, including:
- Counseling and advocacy
- Support in obtaining housing, employment, and other community resources
- Educational and support groups focused on healing from trauma
- Services for friends and family of survivors
- Court accompaniment and legal assistance
- Shelter/basic needs
When you call or come to AWARE, our staff will listen to whatever you want to share of your story. The healing process begins with one-on-one talks or small group discussions with a trained client advocate or counselor. We share expertise gained from working with thousands of survivors over thirty years of service to our community. You will be encouraged to set your own goals for the direction you want your future to unfold; our job is to support you using our empowerment philosophy. No matter what time of day or night, our 24-hour Crisis Hotline ((517)783-2861) is staffed to assist you in beginning your journey to safety.