WHAT IS DOMESTIC VIOLENCE?

Domestic violence, sometimes called battering, family violence or intimate partner violence, is a pattern of behavior used to establish power and control over another person through fear and intimidation, often including the threat or use of violence. Domestic violence can include physical abuse, emotional abuse, psychological abuse, economic abuse and sexual abuse. Abusers use threats, intimidation, isolation and other behaviors to gain and maintain power over their victims.

Domestic violence can affect anyone, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or religion. One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Domestic violence can happen to men and people in same sex relationships.

Domestic violence affects not only the direct victim, but also those who witness it. Children are particularly vulnerable. They are more likely to have problems with anxiety, self-esteem, depression, anger and forming healthy relationships.

A domestic violence victim might feel hopeless, desperate, confused and alone. The person may not want to tell others about the situation due to feelings of fear, shame or embarrassment. Victims of domestic violence, you are not alone, and help is available for you and your children.

HOW CAN A PERSON IN A VIOLENT OR ABUSE RELATIONSHIP STAY SAFE?

For some survivors of domestic violence, developing a plan ahead of time has been helpful in preparing for another violent episode or for times when they feel emotionally overwhelmed. A plan may be helpful when it is hard to think clearly in the middle of a crisis. Each survivor’s situation is unique, so every plan is different. A good safety plan changes over time, responding to the fact that circumstances change.

SAFETY STRATEGIES TO CONSIDER

These do not cover every possible scenario and some may be useful while others may not. It is up to the individual to decide whether to make a safety plan and what to include. It may also help to speak with an advocate with expertise in domestic violence. You should consider where you can safely keep this plan so your abuser does not have access to it.

  • Talk with people you trust: Turn to family, friends and coworkers. Let them know what is happening and talk about ways they might be able to help.
  • Consider what you might do to increase safety: What should be done during an argument or if you can tell abuse is coming. For example, some rooms in your home may be safer than others. Some survivors try to move away from the kitchen because it has knives and other sharp objects. Some survivors try to stay near a door, so they can run if necessary.
  • Memorize the numbers you might keep in an emergency: 9-1-1, a friend or family membger, or the local hotline – be prepared to dial in the case of an emergency. Keep in mind that the person hurting you could take your cell phone away, so memorizing numbers or keeping a list somewhere safe may be helpful.
  • Plan how you would escape of you needed to: If you live in an apartment building, make sure you know all the ways out of the building. Consider what routes you could take to get transportation, and where you could get to safety. You could hearn how to get to a local police station, fire department, hospital ER or a 24-hour store.
  • Consider talking with your children about safety: Some survivors teach their children how to call 9-1-1 or talk with them about a neighbor’s home or place in the community that may be a place to go in an emergency.
  • Make a plan for times when you are at work: You may want to speak with your employer about changing work locations or hours, or alert security or reception staff to your situation.
  • Prepare an emergency bag: You may want to put together a bag of important documents and necessities in the event of needing to leave your home in a hurry. Here is a checklinst to help you decide what to include:

1. Keys
2. Restraining order
3. ATM Card
4. Cash
5. Checkbook and credit cards
6. Passport or green card
7. Work permit
8. Public Assistance I.D.
9. Cell phone or coins for a pay phone
10. Driver’s license & registration
11. Social secutiy card
12. Partner’s SSN
13. Medical records
14. Address book
15. Insurance policies
16. Legal documents
17. Police records/records of violence
18. Baby supplies
19. Children’s school and health records
20. Birth certificates
21. Medications
22. Clothing
23. Eyeglasses
24. Lease
25. Non-perishable snacks

Resources for domestic violence victims

Camden County Prosecutor’s Office Victim Witness Unit – (856) 225-8440

Protecting Yourself: Domestic Violence Information Handbook (PDF)

Help Brochure: Domestic Violence (PDF)