Finding Help

Elder Abuse

Each year hundreds of thousands of older persons are abused, neglected, and exploited. Many victims are people who are older, frail, and vulnerable and cannot help themselves and depend on others to meet their most basic needs. Abusers of older adults are both women and men, and may be family members, friends, or "trusted others".
In general, elder abuse is a term referring to any knowing, intentional, or negligent act by a caregiver or any other person that causes harm or a serious risk of harm to a vulnerable adult. Legislatures in all 50 states have passed some form of elder abuse prevention laws. Laws and definitions of terms vary considerably from one state to another, but broadly defined, abuse may be:

  • Physical Abuse - inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.
  • Sexual Abuse - non-consensual sexual contact of any kind.
  • Neglect - the failure by those responsible to provide food, shelter, health care, or protection for a vulnerable elder.
  • Exploitation - the illegal taking, misuse, or concealment of funds, property, or assets of a senior for someone else's benefit.
  • Emotional Abuse - inflicting mental pain, anguish, or distress on an elder person through verbal or nonverbal acts, e.g. humiliating, intimidating, or threatening.
  • Abandonment - desertion of a vulnerable elder by anyone who has assumed the responsibility for care or custody of that person.
  • Self-neglect – characterized as the failure of a person to perform essential, self-care tasks and that such failure threatens his/her own health or safety.

What are the warning signs of elder abuse?

While one sign does not necessarily indicate abuse, some tell-tale signs that there could be a problem are:

  • Bruises, pressure marks, broken bones, abrasions, and burns may be an indication of physical abuse, neglect, or mistreatment.
  • Unexplained withdrawal from normal activities, a sudden change in alertness, and unusual depression may be indicators of emotional abuse.
  • Bruises around the breasts or genital area can occur from sexual abuse.
  • Sudden changes in financial situations may be the result of exploitation.
  • Bedsores, unattended medical needs, poor hygiene, and unusual weight loss are indicators of possible neglect.
  • Behavior such as belittling, threats, and other uses of power and control by spouses are indicators of verbal or emotional abuse.
  • Strained or tense relationships, frequent arguments between the caregiver and elderly person are also signs.

Most importantly, be alert. The suffering is often in silence. If you notice changes in a senior's personality or behavior, you should start to question what is going on.
Remember, it is not your role to verify that abuse is occurring, only to alert others of your suspicions.

What If I Suspect Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation?

If the danger is not immediate, but you suspect that abuse has occurred or is occurring, please tell someone. Call Safehouse at 307-637-7233.

To report elder abuse, contact the Adult Protective Services (APS) agency in Wyoming.

If you have been the victim of abuse, exploitation, or neglect, you are not alone. Many people care and can help. Please tell your doctor, a friend, or a family member you trust, or call the Eldercare Locator help line immediately. You can reach the Eldercare Locator by telephone at 1-800-677-1116. Specially trained operators will refer you to a local agency that can help. The Eldercare Locator is open Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
If you suspect nursing home abuse, call your Long Term Care Ombudsman.

What is Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is…
POWER & CONTROL…
Physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial and/or emotional abuse…
NEVER the victim's fault.

Examples include when a partner or care giver:

  • Kicks, punches, slaps or harms you, pets, children or loved ones.
  • Doesn't allow you to take birth control or other medication; prevents you from seeking medical or social services help.
  • Forces you to have sex.
  • Curses, yells at or calls you names; threatens to hurt or kill you, a pet, family or friends.
  • Isolates you from family and friends.
  • Controls all or most of the finances.
  • Threatens your job security.
  • Threatens to report you to the police or have you deported.
  • Behaves possessively or exhibits extreme jealousy.
  • Misrepresents you to important people in your life.

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Help for Myself

Abuse is never acceptable and never your fault! You can regain power and control over your life… The Safehouse Services is here to assist you on that journey.

Start by calling our confidential 24-hour crisis line today at: 307-637-7233.

In an Emergency:

Call 911 - go to a safe spot or the neighbor's and call the police (take children and pets, too).
Stay away from the kitchen, garage/any rooms that contain 'weapons' and small spaces. If police come, explain what has occurred and write down the officer's badge number and name.
Take pictures of all injuries and damages.

Protect Yourself at Home:

Get help by calling 911 or The Safehouse Services's confidential 24-hour abuse hotline: 307-637-7233
Always carry a charged cell phone; know your phone's blackout areas.
Contact us for a free recycled cell phone for emergency service access/911 calls only: 307-634-4220
Change locks on your doors and install locks on your windows; screen phone calls.
Plan an escape route from your home and teach it to your children; know where you will go to escape (consider the Cheyenne Safehouse).
Have neighbors call the police when they see the abuser at your home - develop a signal to alert them to danger (flipping on a porch light, etc.).
Take a self-defense course and carry a noisemaker or personal alarm.

Animal cruelty is family violence. Do not let an abuser keep you in an abusive situation by threatening your family pet as well. Safehouse Services works closely with the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and other local foster families to find temporary homes for your pet so that you can all escape the situation. For information on protecting pets, please visit The Humane Society of The United States website at http://www.hsus.org.

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Protect Yourself Outside Your Home:

  • Change routes to work, school, stores and ride with others; shop and bank in new places.
  • Cancel joint bank accounts and credit cards; open new accounts in your name only at a different bank.
  • Keep your court order and emergency numbers with you at all times!
  • If you have to travel to another state, take your Injunction for Protection with you - it is valid everywhere in the United States.
  • Carry noisemakers or pepper spray/mace.

Be Safe at Work:

  • Keep a copy of your court order at work.
  • Give/show a picture of your abuser to supervisors/security guards, receptionists and friends. Ask someone to screen your calls. Park in a well-lit space close to the door; ask security or a coworker to walk you to your car, bus, and lunch.
  • Save all voicemail messages and emails from the abuser.

Actions to Consider:

  • Call 911 in emergencies and to report the violence.
  • Seek an Injunction for Protection to keep the abuser away - our Advocates can assist: 307-637-7233.
  • Have medical staff document your injuries and their cause.
  • Call Safehouse's confidential 24-hour crisis line: 307-637-7233. Keep a journal and photos of the abuse (keep this in a spot where the abuser will not find it).
  • Car registration; car, health and life insurance papers; School and medical records; Divorce, custody or injunction papers; Proof of your partner's income (copy of a check stub); Home calling card (calls can be traced and cell phones have GPS in them
  • Personal hygiene products (toothbrushes, tampons, deodorant, etc.); diapers, formula, toys, blankets. (If you need to get out in a hurry, Safehouse Services can provide these items for you free of charge). Pictures, jewelry, keepsakes Abuser's personal information (date of birth, Social Security number, work permit information, place of employment, vehicle description and license plate) Picture of family which includes abuser Lease or titles of property.

Prepare an Escape Bag:

  • Keep this bag/box/suitcase in a safe place away from home (at work or a friend's). Place 'originals' in the bag except for items you must carry with you or things you can't take without the abuser knowing. Do not use your car or purse.
  • Identification for you and your children: driver's license, birth certificates, Social Security or Green cards Extra keys: car, house, storage, business, etc.
  • Checkbook, ATM Card, credit cards, bank books, etc.
  • Address book and phone numbers
  • Food stamps, Medicaid cards, insurance cards, etc.
  • Car registration; car, health and life insurance papers School and medical records Divorce, custody or injunction papers Proof of your partner's income (copy of a check stub) Home calling card (calls can be traced and cell phones have GPS in them
  • Copies of bills you owe with partner
  • Change of clothes
  • Medications and prescriptions for you, your children and pets (bring extra)
  • Personal hygiene products (toothbrushes, tampons, deodorant, etc.); diapers, formula, toys, blankets, pictures, jewelry, keepsakes Abuser's personal information (date of birth, Social Security number, work permit information, place of employment, vehicle description and license plate) Picture of family which includes abuser Lease or titles of property

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How to Help a Friend

Some intimate partner violence victims do not consider themselves abused because they have not been physically beaten and most will not offer up the fact that they are being abused whether their abuse is physical, verbal, sexual, financial and/or emotional.

Start a conversation

Does your partner/caregiver make you feel afraid or controlled
What happens when you disagree with each other
Does s/he put you down, threaten or hurt you

Victims may use alcohol and medications or experience depression. A recurrent history of being accident-prone is also a clue, as is an overly attentive partner who attempts to answer questions directed at your loved one, or one who bullies and criticizes her.

What Can You Do to Help

Call 307-637-7233 24-hours a day for confidential support (Outside Laramie County call the crisis line at 1-800-591-9159).
Don't blame the victim - there are numerous reasons why she may stay. Why Does She Stay Booklet. (Do we have something like this) Suggest she discusses a safety plan with Safehouse's experts:
307-637-7233.
Tell her you are afraid for her, her children and/or pets; teach children to dial 911.
Let her keep extra keys and her Escape Bag at your house/office.
Be there when she needs you. Empower her to make decisions for herself and respect those choices.
Help with childcare, transportation, a place to stay, job, lending money, but do not risk your own safety!
Give her this web address: www.wyomingsafehouse.org

Internet Safety

  • Computers record everything you do. It is impossible to clear your tracks completely. Your computer stores hundreds of bits of information about everything you do with your computer, including information about which websites you've visited, your passwords, and what your emails say. Your abuser can readily track the websites you visit or read your email messages.
  • If you suspect your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusive people are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don't need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone's computer activities – anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor your activities - even without having direct access to your computer.
  • Email is not a safe or confidential way to communicate. Sending email is like sending a postcard through the mail. Anyone along the path can read what it says. If you need to talk to someone about the danger or abuse in your life, if possible, please call a hotline instead.
  • If you must use email to discuss your situation, we suggest you use an account that your abuser doesn't know about. Set up a new account with a free email service like hotmail, yahoo, or gmail. DO NOT use a name or password that contains any identifying information (no names, nicknames, initials, birthdates, zipcodes, etc.) Instead use a name and password that contains a random mix of letters, CAPITAL letters and numbers (for example, HJ3v67Tn) - Make sure you can remember the user name and password! If you must write it down somewhere, put it in a place your abuser is unlikely to find it. If the computer asks if you would like it to save your password or login information tell it NO.
  • If you must use a computer that your abuser knows about, we suggest "safer" Internet surfing. For example, if you are planning to flee to California, don't look just at California web pages for jobs, apartments, bus tickets, etc. Look for the same information in at least a half dozen other states too.
  • Always use a safe computer at the library, a friend's house, work or internet cafe and an email account and password the abuser doesn't know/can't guess.
    It is not possible to delete all 'footprints' of your computer or online activities!* A history of all emails, instant messages (IMs), internet phone and IP-TTY calls, online purchases, banking, etc., is stored on your computer and anyone can monitor these activities, including your abuser.
  • Suddenly changing your computer habits (no longer using it, clearing histories or deleting Spyware) can be dangerous if the abuser is monitoring you. Do NOT delete Spyware, it may be useful evidence.
    Use your home computer for basic activities and use a safe computer to get help.
    Print and save any threatening emails/IMs as evidence of abuse.
    These messages may constitute a federal offense. For more information, call the United States Attorney's Office: Office of Wyoming Attorney General at 1-307-777-7181.
  • You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser's settings. (Tips compiled from various sources, including the National Network to End Domestic Violence: (www.nnedv.org).
  • History/Cache File: Your abuser may know how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), seeing information you having recently viewed on the internet. To clear these files, please follow the directions below:
  • Netscape - Pull down the Edit Menu, select Preferences. Click on Navigator and choose Clear History. Click on Advanced, then select Cache. Click on Clear Disk Cache.
  • For older Netscape versions: Pull down Options menu. Select Network Options, select Cache. Click on Clear Disk Cache.
  • Internet Explorer - Pull down Tools menu, select Internet Options. On General page, under Temporary Files click on Delete Files. Under History click Clear History.
  • AOL - Pull down Members menu, select Preferences. Click on WWW icon.
    Then select Advanced, Purge Cache.
  • Safety Planning/24-Hour Crisis Line 307-637-7233
  • Confidential, life-transforming assistance 24-hours a day, 365-days a year.
  • Outside Laramie County, call the Safehouse Domestic Violence Hotline Toll Free at 1-800-591-9159
  • Outside Wyoming, call the Toll Free National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

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Is Your Cell Phone Spying on You?


Could a cellphone or computer actually lead an abuser or stalker right to their victim? What began as a way for parents to keep track of what their children were doing or which websites they were visiting while out of eyesight of mom or dad has also become a way to keep track of a boy or girlfriend or spouse. It's not only true, but also amazingly simple.
Consider this: Google Play recently removed a controversial app from its store that basically turned a cellphone into a spy, watching the target's every move.
But, that's not the only app of its kind. Spyware is available on every smartphone and every platform. Most claim to help track down cheating partners. For victims of abuse, this can be very dangerous and there is no shortage of spyware for cheating partners of either gender.
"If this is someone who is an abuser, and they want to know where you're at or whom you are with, what you're doing – the capability exists for them to log on to their cell phone and find your location.
"This could be a life or death situation," said Carla Thurin, Executive Director of Safehouse.
It is control they can gain in just minutes with your cellphone. Some apps even claim you can remotely install them by sending a text.
"Somebody can see what your phone is seeing and even listen to any conversations just because you have your cell phone on you," said Thurin.
A secret cellphone tracker can reveal the locations a person has been in, not exact and in real time, but you can tell generally where that phone had been traveling. It can even send hourly reports that include the cell phone user's location, text message log, even what websites they've visited – all without the victim's knowledge.
"You can even get a live location by simply texting a secret code to the phone," Thurin said. "It's terrifying."
Safehouse staff suggests clients disable their GPS. That provides some safety. But, in some cases, they say it may be best to get an entirely new phone and keep that number and your passwords secret.
"We have donated phones that we can give to a victim, where the service has been turned off but will still allow the user to contact 911," said Thurin.
As well, software called "keylogger" can be secretly installed on a personal computer. Much like the cellphone tracking app, keyloggers can be used by a family (or business) to monitor the network usage of people without their direct knowledge. Finally, malicious individuals may use keyloggers on public computers to steal passwords or credit card information.

If you find apps such as these on your cellphone or computer, this is a case of stalking.
Here are some tips:
Keep your passwords a secret.
Disable your GPS on your cellphone
Look for changes in your cellphone's behavior such as:

  • Battery Drain – is your phone battery running down faster than normal? This used to be a really strong indicator. Spy apps used to really hog the phones battery and cause serious drain but the modern programs have largely addressed this issue. If someone is spying on you with older software, you might notice a sudden deterioration in battery life. Other causes of this can be software apps you have installed yourself or just that your battery is losing its ability to hold a charge due to age.
  • Strange Background Noise – some software programs can listen to and record your calls. This works by adding them as "a conference call" – but this can lead to you being able to hear strange background noise. Of course we have all had this with a bad connection but if it is happening all the time, you could have spy software on your phone.
  • Random Start or Shutdown – some spy software apps can cause the phone to light up as if it is in use or even to shut down by itself. Look for this happening on a regular basis – not just a one time… Again the good programs will not exhibit this behavior.
  • Receiving Strange SMS Texts – are you regularly getting odd looking text messages, usually with just numbers and symbols? Some programs use SMS texts to issue commands to the target cellphone and if they are not configured properly you might see these messages coming through.
  • Higher Data Use – is your data usage suddenly getting high? Spy programs send logs of your phone use to online servers using your own data plan. Older apps used to be really heavy on data transfers but again the best spy software apps have changed how this is handled. The data transfers are now smaller and most people don't have itemized data billing – so it's getting harder to spot. If they are uploading large files like videos from your cell phone – data use could still be noticeable.
  • Check the Cell Phone Files
  • It is sometimes possible to find spy software by looking inside the actual files on the phone. If you go to Settings – Applications – Manage Applications or Running Services, you may be able to spot suspicious looking files.
  • Good spy programs usually disguise the file names so that they don't stand out but sometimes they may contain terms like Spy, Monitor or Stealth, etc.
  • Not everyone is comfortable getting inside the phones file system but if you are only looking for any confirmation you won't do any damage to the phone we wouldn't recommend removing or deleting any files unless you really know what you are doing.

Here are a few ways you can use to check if a keylogger is installed on your computer:

  • Use up to date anti-virus and/or anti-spyware software
  • Use a special software tool

There is a bunch of anti-keylogger software on the market and you may get better results with those. I recommend you to use them if you think there is a high possibility to have a keylogger installed. For example I found Cyberhawk to be the only software that detected a custom made keylogger. Kasperky does a good job in this area too. Also check anti-spy.info. More examples:
http://www.microsoft.com/athome/security/spyware/software/default.mspx
http://www.lavasoftusa.com/software/adaware/
http://security.kolla.de/
http://www.clamwin.com

  • Find it yourself

If you are more like an advanced user you can try finding keyloggers by using a few tools like regedit (registry editor) and/or Process Explorer. It will save you some money but it gets harder and harder to find advanced spyware. You can look here or here for more information about using Process Explorer.
You can also try some hot key combination that are used by this kind of software. Examples: Ctrl + Alt + X or Ctrl + Alt + Wondows Key + X

  • Free tools you can use:

PSMAntiKeyLogger
PSMAntiKeyLogger is a real-time protecting software which protects you against Keyloggers. No scanning is needed.
SnoopFree
Freeware antikeylogger that block hook based keyloggers as well as screen captures. For Windows XP.
I Hate Keyloggers
Freeware antikeylogger that block hook based keyloggers. For Windows 2000 and XP.
KL-Detector
Freeware on demand keylogger scanner.

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Local, U.S. and Global Help

Local

Safehouse's confidential 24-hour crisis line: 307-632-7233
TTY Line:
E-Mail: Info@wyomingsafehouse.org

Wyoming

Toll Free Wyoming Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-591-9159 Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence (including domestic violence and sexual assault Safehouse Servicess across Wyoming): www.wyomingdvsa.org

University of Wyoming Stop the Violence 307-766-3296 http://www.uwyo.edu/stop/

National

Toll Free National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233 National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (including domestic violence Safehouse Servicess throughout the country): http://www.ncadv.org/ National Network to End Domestic Violence: www.nnedv.org *In case of a Sexual Assault call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-4673

For listings of programs offering safe haven for pets, please visit:

American Humane's Pets and Women's Safehouse Servicess (PAWS)® Program
The Humane Society of the United States Online Directory of Safe Havens for Animals Programs

CAUTION: Please read the page on Internet Safety BEFORE contacting us via the internet.

Although we will make every effort to respond to your form quickly, in cases of EMERGENCY you should: Call 911

Call The Safehouse Services' confidential 24-hour crisis line at 307-632-7233

Outside Laramie County, call the Toll Free Wyoming Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-591-9159

Outside Wyoming, call the Toll Free National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233

Visit www.wyomingdvsa.org to locate the nearest domestic violence Safehouse Services.

You may remain anonymous by leaving the name and address fields blank on this form. However, please provide enough information so that we can contact you.

Please make sure the abuser (or his supporters) do not have access to the email account or phone number where you would like us to respond. Anonymous email accounts can be obtained, for free, at hotmail, gmail, yahoo mail and through other internet providers.

Safehouse Services works closely with the Cheyenne Animal Shelter and other local foster families to find temporary homes for your pet so that you can all escape the situation. For information on protecting pets, please visit The Humane Society of The United States website at http://www.hsus.org.

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Warning Signs of Abuse

The following questions ask you about your relationship. If you are not currently in a relationship, these are signs or "red flags" to assist people in identifying a potentially abusive person.

  • Do you feel nervous around your partner?
  • Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid your partner's anger?
  • Do you feel pressured by your partner when it comes to sex?
  • Are you scared of disagreeing with your partner?
  • Does your partner criticize you, or humiliate you in front of other people?
  • Is your partner always checking up on you or questioning you about what you do without your partner?
  • Does your partner repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?
  • Does your partner tell you that if you changed they wouldn't abuse you?
  • Does your partner's jealousy stop you from seeing friends or family?
  • Does your partner make you feel like you are wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate?
  • Has your partner ever scared you with violence or threatening behavior?
  • Does your partner prevent you from going out or doing things you want to do?
  • Are you expected to do things to please your partner, rather than to please yourself?
  • Do you feel that, with your partner, nothing you ever do is good enough?
  • Does your partner say, "I will kill myself if you break up with me" or "I will hurt/kill you if you break up with me"?
  • Does your partner make excuses for the abusive behavior? For example: saying, "It's because of alcohol or drugs," or "I can't control my temper," or "I was just joking"?

You do not deserve to be abused. Create a safety plan or call someone to talk about your relationship. You may also want to contact the police or Safehouse Services at 307-634-8655 - or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-SAFE.


What is Relationship Abuse?

Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try and control her/him.

It Is Not Your Fault
If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner's abusive actions. Dating abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is always a choice to be abusive.

Please see If You Are Being Abused for assistance.
Note on Our Use of Pronouns
Because the vast majority of domestic violence is committed by men against women, this page was written using the female gender when referring to the abused person. Domestic violence happens in same-sex relationships as well. All the information in this section is relevant for male victims and for individuals in same-sex relationships


Power and Control Tactics

Physical

  • Pushing a person out of her wheelchair
  • Hurting her service animal
  • Hitting, shaking, and burning
  • The administration of poisonous substances or inappropriate drugs
  • Inappropriate handling of personal or medical care
  • Over-use of restraint or inappropriate behavior modification
  • False information given to the medical/psychiatric community resulting in wrongful diagnosis

Emotional

  • Isolating a person from family and friends
  • Intensely criticizing a person that needs assistance with her daily activities
  • Withholding love and affection
  • Verbal attacks
  • Taunting, threats (of withdrawal of services or of institutionalization), insults and harassment

Economic

  • A caregiver stealing money
  • Misusing financial resources
  • Lying about the state of a person's finances
  • The denial of access to, and control over, individuals' own funds
  • Forcing a person to lie to or exploit governmental benefit systems

Verbal

  • Telling a woman with a disability that she will be sent to a nursing home and lose her freedom if she reports the violence
  • Implying that physical violence will be committed (e.g.," I'm going to kick your butt.")

Sexual Abuse

  • Forcing a person to perform sexual favors in exchange for assistance with essential services (bathing, eating)
  • Unwanted or forced sexual contact, touching, or displays of sexual parts
  • Threats of harm or coercion in connection with sexual activity
  • Denial of sexuality and of sexual education
  • Forced abortion, birth control or sterilization

Spiritual

  • Refusing to allow a person that needs assistance to practice her chosen customs
  • Telling a person her or his disability is the result of sin
  • Spiritual isolation and spiritual embarrassment
  • Mocking, ridiculing, or even denying practice of someone's spiritual beliefs
  • Unfairly using sacred practices to control a person: to justify abuse, or to prevent safety or healing

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Verbal Abuse

The following are common examples of verbal abuse:

  • Degrading you in front of friends and family
  • Telling hurtful "jokes" despite your requests to stop
  • Taking your statements out of context
  • Name calling
  • Insulting
  • Humiliation
  • Criticizing
  • Blaming
  • Accusing
  • Questioning your sanity

Barriers to Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Many people ask "Why doesn't the victim leave? Why does the victim stay?" as if it is that simple. It is important to understand that there are many barriers to safety in an abusive relationship. Leaving can sometimes be dangerous and there are many factors an abused partner must consider in the analysis of how to respond to an abusive partner. The better question is "Why does the abuser do this and how can I help the survivor gain access to safety?"

  • Economic necessity
  • Isolation: from friends, family, community support, resources
  • Fear: of retaliation; of being alone
  • Threats: the abusive partner may threaten to commit suicide or hurt their partner/children, other loved ones and/or pets, threaten to call INS (Immigration and Naturalization Services), threaten to take the children, threaten to "out" their partner to family or coworkers…
  • Lack of resources or information about available resources
  • Shelters are full
  • Love and concern for partner's well-being (fear that partner will be arrested, imprisoned, deported etc.)
  • Hope/belief that partner will change
  • Culture/ religion/ family pressures to stay together
  • Shame and guilt
  • Depression
  • Belief that the abuse is their fault
  • Immigration status: fear of deportation without partner's support, fear of separation from children, law enforcement etc.
  • Children: desire to provide them with a two-parent home, custody concerns etc.

Warning Signs of Abuse

The following questions ask you about your relationship. If you are not currently in a relationship, these are signs or "red flags" to assist people in identifying a potentially abusive person.

  • Do you feel nervous around your partner?
  • Do you have to be careful to control your behavior to avoid your partner's anger?
  • Do you feel pressured by your partner when it comes to sex?
  • Are you scared of disagreeing with your partner?
  • Does your partner criticize you, or humiliate you in front of other people?
  • Is your partner always checking up on you or questioning you about what you do without your partner?
  • Does your partner repeatedly and wrongly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people?
  • Does your partner tell you that if you changed they wouldn't abuse you?
  • Does your partner's jealousy stop you from seeing friends or family?
  • Does your partner make you feel like you are wrong, stupid, crazy, or inadequate?
  • Has your partner ever scared you with violence or threatening behavior?
  • Does your partner prevent you from going out or doing things you want to do?
  • Are you expected to do things to please your partner, rather than to please yourself?
  • Do you feel that, with your partner, nothing you ever do is good enough?
  • Does your partner say, "I will kill myself if you break up with me" or "I will hurt/kill you if you break up with me"?
  • Does your partner make excuses for the abusive behavior? For example: saying, "It's because of alcohol or drugs," or "I can't control my temper," or "I was just joking"?

You do not deserve to be abused. Create a safety plan or call someone to talk about your relationship. You may also want to contact the police or Safehouse Services at 307-634-8655 - or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.


What is Relationship Abuse?

Relationship abuse is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors used to maintain power and control over a former or current intimate partner. An abusive relationship means more than being hit by the person who claims to love or care about you. Abuse can be emotional, financial, sexual or physical and can include threats, isolation, and intimidation. Abuse tends to escalate over time. When someone uses abuse and violence against a partner, it is always part of a larger pattern to try and control her/him.
It Is Not Your Fault
If you are being abused by your partner, you may feel confused, afraid, angry and/or trapped. All of these emotions are normal responses to abuse. You may also blame yourself for what is happening. But no matter what others might say, you are never responsible for your partner's abusive actions. Dating abuse is not caused by alcohol or drugs, stress, anger management, or provocation. It is always a choice to be abusive.

Please see If You Are Being Abused for assistance.
Note on Our Use of Pronouns
Because the vast majority of domestic violence is committed by men against women, this page was written using the female gender when referring to the abused person. Domestic violence happens in same-sex relationships as well. All the information in this section is relevant for male victims and for individuals in same-sex relationships

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1. Isn't Relationship Abuse a Rare Occurrence?

No. Approximately 1 in 3 women in this country will experience relationship abuse in her lifetime.* Women and children are more at risk of violence in their homes and relationships than in the street. Domestic violence never shows up in statistics as much as it occurs.
*American Psychological Association, Violence and the Family: Report on the American Psychological Association Presidential Task Force on Violence and the Family (1996), p. 10.

2. Does Relationship Abuse Happen in Same-Sex Relationships?

Abuse does occur in same-sex relationships. In fact, statistics show that same-sex relationship abuse is just as common as heterosexual relationship abuse. The elements of abusive relationships are similar for heterosexual and homosexual relationships, although same-sex survivors may face additional barriers to safety and different kinds of threats may be used against them. An individual's size, strength, politics or personality does not determine whether she or he could be abused or an abuser.*
*Adapted from verahouse.org and nwnetwork.org.

3. Don't Women Abuse Just as Much as Men Do?

No. 90-95% of domestic violence victims are women and as many as 95% of domestic violence perpetrators are men.* However, men can be victims and women can be perpetrators, and domestic violence occurs in same-sex relationships.
* Bureau of Justice Statistics Selected Findings: Violence Between Inmates (NCJ-149259), November 1994; A Report of the Violence Against Women Research Strategic Planning Workshop sponsored by the National Institute of Justice in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995.

4. But What About Those Studies That Show Women Are Just as Violent as Men?

These studies use a research tool called the "Conflict Tactics Scale," which does not control for the context in which the violence occurred, such as use of force in self-defense or retaliation. So, for example, if a man is strangling a woman and she scratches him to get him to stop, they each get "one point" on the conflict tactics scale for use of violence! Even more significantly, if a woman has been abused by a man for years, he pushes her into the wall, and she picks up a knife, brandishes it and says "get away from me," she will get two points and he will get one. This is the substance of studies that found women are more violent than men. Furthermore, other studies consistently find that no matter what the rate of violence or who initiates the violence, women are 7 to 10 times more likely to be injured in acts of intimate partner violence than men are.*
*Adapted from Susan McGee, Minerva, Inc.

5. Isn't Most Violence Against Women Committed by Strangers?

No. Most violence against women is committed by a current or former partner. 76% of women who report having been physically assaulted or raped were victimized by a current or former husband, cohabiting partner, or date. Only 14% of physical assaults against women are committed by strangers.*
*Patricia Tjaden & Nancy Thoennes. Prevalence, Incidence, and Consequences of Violence Against Women: Findings from the National Violence Against Women Survey, 1998. U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

6. Why Don't Women in Abusive Relationships Just Leave Their Partners?

Many people ask "Why doesn't the victim leave? Why does the victim stay?" as if it is that simple. It is important to understand that there are many barriers to safety in an abusive relationship. The better question is "Why does the abuser do this and how can I help the survivor gain access to safety?" Leaving is often dangerous and there are many factors an abused partner must consider in the analysis of how to respond to an abusive partner.
Please see Barriers to Leaving for more information.

7. What About Culture?

All cultures have both traditions of resistance to domestic violence as well as forms of acceptance of it. Culture cannot excuse domestic violence—though abusers may use "culture" as a way to justify their choice to abuse. Unfortunately, relationship abuse is prevalent in all cultures. Across the world, different cultures may have different responses to domestic violence, and some may hold abusers more accountable than others. Culture is ultimately defined by the individual, so ask a survivor about her definition of her culture before making any assumptions and recognize that every individual has the right to live a life free from violence and abuse.

8. How Do We Hold Abusers Accountable?

Holding abusers accountable is important because it sends a message to others that abuse of any kind will not be tolerated in our community. Unfortunately, there are still many barriers to justice in the criminal justice system, and when professionals do not understand the dynamics of domestic violence, it can make it difficult to adequately identify and prosecute abusers. In addition, many women cannot rely on the criminal justice system due to institutional barriers, including discrimination or homophobia. Therefore, it is important for us to hold abusers accountable on an individual level as well. Do not blame the survivor. Teach your children that violence is never the answer to a problem, and that controlling another person is wrong.


Types of Abuse

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that allow others to become aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the abuser make up a larger system of abuse.

Power and Control Wheels

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