What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence is abuse that happens in a personal relationship. It can happen between past or current partners, spouses, or boyfriends and girlfriends.
Domestic violence affects men and women of any ethnic group, race, or religion; gay or straight; rich or poor; teen, adult, or elderly. But most of its victims are women. In fact, 1 out of 4 women will be a victim at some point.
The abuser may use fear, bullying, and threats to gain power and control over the other person. He or she may act jealous, controlling, or possessive. These early signs of abuse may happen soon after the start of the relationship and might be hard to notice at first.
After the relationship becomes more serious, the abuse may get worse.
- The abuser may begin making threats, calling the other person names, and slamming doors or breaking dishes. This is a form of emotional abuse that is sometimes used to make the person feel bad or weak.
- Physical abuse that starts with a slap might lead to kicking, shoving, and choking over time.
- As a way to control the person, the abuser may make violent threats against the person’s children, other family members, or pets.
- Abusers may also control or withhold money to make the person feel weak and dependent. This is called financial abuse.
- Domestic violence also includes sexual abuse, such as forcing a person to have sex against her will.
Money troubles and problems with drugs or alcohol can make it more likely that abuse will happen.
Abuse is also common in teens who are dating. It often happens through controlling behaviors and jealousy.
What should you do if you're being abused? We Can Help
The YWCA is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country. Locally, the YWCA building is a home where we provide shelter for victims of domestic violence and their children. We staff a 24-hour domestic violence hotline. Our confidential services are available 24-hours a day, 365 days a year.
You have a right to be safe. If you need us, we’re here.
24-Hour Domestic Violence Hotline • 866-367-9922
Emergency Police/Fire • 911
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline TTY • 800-332-7385
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline • 866-331-9474
National Domestic Violence Hotline • 800-799-SAFE (7233)
Here are some other things you can do:
- Make sure that you know phone numbers you can call and places you can go in an emergency.
- Teach your children not to get in the middle of a fight.
- If you think you may leave, make a plan to help keep you safe. This will help when you are getting ready to leave. Your plan might include:
- Putting together and hiding a suitcase of clothing; copies of your car and house keys; money or credit cards; and important papers, such as Social Security cards and birth certificates for you and your children.
- Opening a savings account or getting a credit card, if you can do so in secret.
What should you do if you know someone who is being abused?
Here are some things you can do to help:
- Be a good listener and a caring friend.
- Remind the person that no one deserves to be treated this way.
- Let the person know that the abuse is against the law and that help is available.
- Help the person make a plan to stay safe.
- You can also suggest that the person call the YWCA for assistance or to join a domestic violence support group.
Keep in mind that the person may not want to leave. He or she often knows the abuser best and knows what options are safest. But it is important for victims of abuse to know where they can get help.
Why do victims stay?
People who are not abused might find it hard to understand why anyone would stay in a violent relationship. Some people think that if a person stays in an abusive relationship, she or he must be weak or needy. This is not true.
There is more to this issue than simply leaving or staying. A woman may fear that the abuser will hurt her and her children or take her children away. She may have limited financial options. She may blame herself. She may stay for religious reasons or because she does not want to break up the family. Also, she may still love her abuser and hope that things will get better. A man who is being abused may have a similar experience.
What are the harmful effects of domestic violence?
Domestic violence hurts victims as well as their families. Don't ignore it.
People who suffer from abuse can be badly hurt. They are also likely to have long-lasting (chronic) health problems, such as depression, headaches, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This is because of the repeated injuries and stress from living with abuse.
Abuse can happen more often and get worse when women are pregnant. It is dangerous for both the mother and the baby. It can raise the baby's risk of low birth weight, premature birth, and death. The pregnant woman is at higher risk of other problems, such as infections and bleeding.
And abuse has a big effect on children. Children who live in a home where abuse happens see violence as a normal way of life. It also raises their chance of being in a violent relationship as adults, either as abusers or as victims. Teens are at a greater risk for depression, drug and alcohol use, and bad behavior.
Domestic Violence Shelter
The YWCA opened Evansville’s first Domestic Violence Shelter in 1979. We never turn away a victim of domestic violence and her children. We believe that given a supportive environment free from abuse, victims of domestic violence are capable of developing their own strengths and abilities to manage their lives and the lives of their children. We maintain a crisis line and provide safe housing, transportation, clothing, and personal care items. Our 24-hour staff provides crisis counseling, information and referrals, goal planning, and self-sufficiency counseling. A Legal Advocate provides assistance with legal issues and counseling to both on- and off-site victims. Each child is assessed by the Children’s Advocate who provides counseling, and referrals. Other services include support groups, tutoring, parenting programs, and summer day camp.
YW staff counsel victims involved in domestic violence court hearings who are referred by judges and participates in ride-alongs with the Evansville Police Department to follow up on domestic violence runs. Staff meets regularly with the Prosecutor’s Office to discuss disposition and follow-up of domestic violence cases. We have collaborative agreements with the Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation for tutoring, with 4C’s and the Youth Service Bureau for parenting groups, and with ECHO Health Clinic for on-site services. In cooperation with Southwestern Indiana Behavioral Care, whose counselors work with court-ordered abusers, the YWCA provides support groups for their partners and children in the Domestic Abuse Intervention Program. We serve as a local resource for professionals, groups, and individuals by informing the community about domestic violence and providing training
Emergency Housing Program
Our Emergency Housing Program offers many of the services available to our domestic violence clients to women and their children who are homeless.