Woman's Health Centers

When Someone You Love Needs a Choice

Protecting Yourself from Domestic Violence

If you are involved in an abusive relationship, you must protect yourself.

You should have a plan of action for when your safety is compromised.

Make a plan. Know where you will go, be prepared to physically leave your house. Know how you can get away, and how you will get the children to safety.

Be sure there are no guns in your home. Verbal abuse can escalate quickly into physical abuse.

Talk with someone you trust, a family member or close friend. It may be hard, and you may feel ashamed of what is happening, but you need to speak to someone. Once you can talk about the problem, you can get some support and maybe get help with making a plan. You may find that you have a feeling of relief just because you have been able to confide in someone.

Next, do some research. Find out what resources are available to you. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline is open Monday through Friday 8AM to 5PM to provide information, advice and counseling.

Recognize the pattern of abuse. Make plans to leave the house before things get out of hand. Leave as soon as you think danger is developing. This will help you begin to break the cycle of violence.

The cycle begins with tension building, next is the batter phase (verbal abuse) or (physical abuse), and ends with a period of tenderness, apologies, and promises that it will never happen again.

Because many women love their partners they convince themselves that the man will change. Without professional help however, the batterer will most often become abusive again. Over time, the violence gets worse.

If you have been physically assaulted, it is important that you get medical attention. Go to the Emergency Room or to your doctor. It may be hard, but you should tell the truth about what has happened. Doctors can often provide you with resources and guidance. Your doctor, or the hospital may want to take pictures of your injuries. If you choose to press charges, the medical record and photos can help show that you were battered in the past.

It takes a lot of courage to face the fact that you are involved in an abusive relationship. You should seek the help you need. You deserve a better life.