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About Domestic Violence

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is the systemic use of physical, emotional, verbal, financial and /or sexual abuse to gain power and control with a relationship.

Warning Signs of an Abusive Relationship

A “yes” answer to any of these questions may indicate that you are headed down a path that could ultimately be emotionally and physically dangerous. If you would like to talk about what is going on in your relationship, please call us.

  • Threatens to kill you and/or your children
  • Threatens to or uses a weapon against you
  • If your  abuser is unemployed
  • Strangles you
  • Extreme jealousy and/or obsessive behaviors
  • Forces sex
  • Controls most or all of your daily activities
  • Owns or has access to weapons (e.g. guns, knives, etc.)
  • Violence is increasing in severity and/or frequency
  • Abuses alcohol and/or other drugs
  • Violent with (female) victim during pregnancy
  • Threatens or attempts to commit suicide
  • Threatens to harm you and your children
  • Stalking behaviors (e.g. follows, spies, and/or leaves threatening messages)
  • Believes your abuser could or might try to kill you and/or the children
  • Recent separation after living together/married within the past year
  • Child(ren) is in the home that is not the abuser’s biological child(ren)
  • History of intimate partner violence in the relationship Abuse toward animals

Based on the research of Jacquelyn Campbell Ph.D., R.N., F.A.A.N. and the Danger Assessment tool.

Safety Planning Tips

If you are still in the relationship:

  • Think about what you will say to your partner if he\she becomes violent.
  • Think of a safe place to go if there is violence at home; avoid rooms with no exits like the bathroom and rooms with weapons like the kitchen.
  • Make a list of safe people to contact.
  • Establish a code word or sign so that family, friends, neighbors, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.
  • If you have a car, make an extra set of car keys and hide them in a safe place or with a friend.
  • If you don’t have a car, keep enough money with you at all times for a bus, train or taxi.
  • Keep an overnight bag packed somewhere outside of the house, such as in the trunk of your car, at a friend’s house.
  • Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence.

If you have left the relationship:

  • Vary your routine and avoid staying alone.
  • Notify your contacts (such as work or school) that you have left the relationship.
  • Change locks, if you think your former partner has a key.
  • Change your phone number and screen your calls.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
  • If you have to meet your former partner, do it in a public place.
  • Save and document any and all contact, messages, injuries or other incidents involving your former partner.

If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, take important papers and documents with you, such as:

  • social security cards for you and your children
  • birth certificates for you and your children
  • your marriage license and/or divorce certificate
  • leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner's names
  • checkbook
  • credit cards
  • bank statements and credit card statements
  • insurance policies
  • proof of income
  • immigration documentation for you and your children (I-94 form, green card, passport, work authorization, visa)
  • any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)

(Adapted from the National Coalition against Domestic Violence www.ncadv.org )

Though there are many similarities among abusive relationships, every situation is different. If you would like help to make a personal safety plan, please call HarborCOV’s 24-hour hotline at 617-884-9909 or the SafeLink 24-hour statewide hotline at 877-785-2020.

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