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Domestic Violence Facts and Resources


This page will provide you with information about the effects of domestic violence on the poeple involved, the cycle of violence, why people stay, and safety planning tips to leave an abusive relationship. 

For questions about our shelter, click here.

For questions about our services, click here.



Effects of Domestic Violence Over Time

Domestic violence has many far reaching effects on everyone involved, including the victim, their children and relatives, and society as a whole. Below are just some of the effects DV can have when allowed to continue over time.

In Victims

  • Isolation From Others
  • Low Self-Esteem
  • Depression
  • New / Increased Substance Abuse
  • Emotional Issues
  • Pain and Injuries
  • Permanent Physical Damage
  • Potentially Death

In Children

  • Emotional Issues
  • Illness
  • Increased Feelings of Fear / Anger
  • Increased Risk of Abuse
  • Injuries and Death
  • Repetition of Abusive Behavior

In Society

  • Increase in Crime
  • Increase in Legal / Police / Medical / Counseling Costs
  • Perpetuation of Cycle of Violence
  • Perpetuation of the Inequality Myth Between Men and Women
  • Overall Decrease in Quality of Life



The Cycle of Violence

Generally domestic violence occurs in a cycle, which consists of three stages.

Phase 1: "Walking on Eggshells"

The first stage involves an increase in tension between the partners. The abuser will become angry, place blame, and argue more often, while the victim is completely focused on not provoking the abuser.

Phase 2: "Abuse"

During the second stage the tension finally breaks, and the abuser attacks the victim. This abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual, or all three.

Phase 3: "Make-up Phase"

During the third stage, the abuse ends and things calm down between the partners. The abuser may deny the violence, make excuses, say they're sorry, or reassure the victim the abuse will never happen again. The abuser may even seek counseling. However, this is rarely the end of the abuse. Generally, the cycle repeats itself, with this stage becoming shorter after each repetition. Eventually the make-up phase disappears completely, creating a continual cycle of high tensions and abuse. 



Why People Stay

People stay in abusive relationships for a number of reasons, and each relationship is different. Here are some of the most common reasons people stay:

Promises to Change - Often abusers promise to change after each instance of abuse. They might even go to counseling to fully convince the victim of their change. This is rarely the case however, and the abuser generally resumes their harmful behavior after some time.

Low Self-Esteem - In many cases, abusers use a victim's self-esteem to trap them in the relationship. The abuser will lower the victim's self-esteem to the point where they believe they're unworthy of a better partner, or even that they deserved the abuse in the first place.

Fear - Many victims of abuse refuse to leave for fear of even greater repercussions, should they try to escape.

Isolation - Abusers often isolate their partners from the outside world, including friends and family. This cuts off the victim's support networks, and makes them feel their abuser is the only person they can turn to. 

Denial and Minimization - Sometimes victims will deny abuse completely, or convince themselves the abuse "wasn't that bad," or is normal  for a relationship. 

Prior Lack of Effective Intervention - If the victim has gone for help in the past, but recieved ineffective intervention, it's less likely they'll seek help again. Even if the violence is worsening around them, they may feel that reaching out again would be pointless. 

Lack of Shelter or Housing - If a victim believes they have nowhere to run, it's less likel that they'll attempt an escape from their abuser.

Lack of Access to Legal Counsel or Advocacy - It can often be difficult for victims to find proper legal counsel / advocacy, which is a very important part of protecting oneself after leaving.

Lack of Money - Abusers will attempt to trap victims through financial restrictions. If a victim has no money, it can be very difficult for them to escape and survive on their own, trapping them with their abuser.

Lack of Family or Social Support - Much like isolation from friends and family, a lack of family or social support can make the victim overly dependant on their abuser.

Shame, Embarassment, or Guilt - Feelings like these are often at the heart of a victim's decision to stay. In many cases, victims will be afraid of what the outside world will say if they open up about the abuse in their relationship.

Religious Beliefs -  Many victims refuse to leave their partners due to strong religious convictions prohibiting the separation of husband and wife. 

Wanting to Keep the Family Together - Victims will often stay with their abusers because they don't want to put their children through the stresses of a divorce.

Protecting the Children - Similarly, many victims of abuse will stay in an abusive relationship to protect their children from their abuser. This often comes at the expense of their own health.



Safety Planning

BE AWARE: Abusers attempt to control the lives of their victims. When they feel a loss of control, the abuse often increases in severity. Because of this, leaving can be very dangerous. Take special care upon leaving, and keep your guard up even after you've left.


No matter the situation, your safety is the number one priority. Below are some tips that will help keep you safe:

  • Keep a cellphone programmed for 911 with you at all times.
  • Identify safe areas of the house that have more than one exit for escape.
  • Practice how to get out of the house safely.
  • Practice this escape route with your children.

If you plan to leave your abuser, pack an emergency survival kit you can access at a moment's notice. 

​A packed survival kit should include all of the following:

  • Birth and Marriage Certificates
  • Protective Orders, Divorce, and Custody Papers
  • ID and Social Security Cards
  • House and Car Keys
  • Bank Account Numbers, Cash, and Credit Cards
  • School and Medical Records
  • Medicine

If you consider leaving your abuser, be sure to think about the following in advance:

  • Where are four places you could go if you were to leave right now?
  • Who are some people who would be willing to help you if you left?
    • Think about people who would be willing to keep a bag for you, lend you money, or care for your pets.
  • Do I have a way to make calls to the police or other important people when I leave?
    • ​Save change for payphones, or get a cellphone if you don't already have one. 
  • Will I have access to money after I leave?
    • ​Consider opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
  • How might you initially leave your house?
    • ​Try doing things that will get you out of the house -- Take out the trash, walk the dog, go to the store. Be sure to practice how you would leave.
  • ​How would you take your children with you safely?
    • It's possible that taking your children with you could endanger all of your lives. Be sure to have a plan in place that will protect both you and your children.
  • ​What will you do for your essential everyday items?
    • ​Consider packing a bag of essentials along with your survival kit. Hide it in a place where it's easy for you to get. 

If you have already left your abuser, think about:

  • Your Safety
    • This should still be your number one priority.
  • Getting a Cellphone
    • Safe Passage may be able to provide you a cellphone programmed to call only 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
  • Getting a Personal Protective Order From the Court
    • Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools, and your boss.
  • Changing the Lock on Your Doors
    • ​If time and money permit, consider installing stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system, and outside lights.
  • Telling Friends and Neighbors That Your Abuser No Longer Lives With You
    • Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
  • Telling People Who Take Care of Your Children the Names of People Who are Allowed to Pick Them Up
    • If you have a Personal Protective Order protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
  • Telling Someone at Work What Has Happened
    • Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a Personal Protective Order that includes your workplace, consider giving your boss a copy, along with a picture of your abuser. Devise a safety plan that includes getting to and from work every day.
  • Using Different Stores and Businesses Than When You Were With Your Abuser
    • By changing the stores and businesses you frequent after leaving, you minimize the chances of running into your abuser who may know to come looking for you in stores you frequented in the past. 
  • A Person You Can Call if You're Feeling Down
    • Have someone you know you can talk to about your feelings. Let them know if you're thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
  • A Safe Way to Speak to Your Abuser, If You Absolutely Must


    This project is supported in part (or in whole) by grant, 03215VAGX006403 from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. Views contained herein are those of the author and do not represent the position of USDOJ or ICJI. 
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