Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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Domestic Violence: Finding Safety and Support - Understanding the Problem

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Is this Publication for Me?

This publication was created mostly to help people who have been abused by their intimate partner. But it is not always easy to recognize abuse, even for victims themselves. This publication will try to help you figure out if there is abuse in your relationship and will give you information on how to be safe and get help if there is abuse. If you are not sure, this publication might be for you if:

If you are a professional helping victims of domestic violence, you will find helpful information in this publication as well.

If you have picked up this publication and find that it is not for you, please pass it on to someone who might find it helpful if it is safe for them to have it.


Some Facts about Domestic Violence

A community agency that offers services to victims of domestic violence, called a domestic violence program, can be your first step to safety and support. There is a domestic violence program in every county of the state. All programs offer services such as support groups, legal advice and children's services. Some programs also offer a safe place to stay. To find the domestic violence program in your area, call the NYS Domestic and Sexual Violence Hotline.

1-800-942-6906 Spanish language: 1-800-942-6908 In NYC: 1-800-621-HOPE (4673) or dial 311 TTY: 1-866-604-5350

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence is when one person does a variety of things to control another person in an intimate relationship. The shift in power can happen very slowly, over a period of time, so that the other person cannot even remember when it happened. Or it can happen very quickly after there is some sort of commitment or some change in the level of intimacy.

Many people wonder if what is happening to them is domestic violence because their partner has never hit them. Physical abuse is probably what most people think of when they think about domestic violence, but it is just one of the many ways that your partner might try to gain power and control in your relationship.

Ways a person might try to gain power and control over their partner include:

Abuse is not always physical.

These are some of the most common ways that abusers try to control their partners, but certainly not the only ones. If your partner does things that restrict your personal freedom or that make you afraid, you may be a victim of domestic violence.

You are not alone. Millions of people are abused by their partners every year. But it is important to know that more resources are available now than ever before to help women and their children be safe.


Why do Abused Women Feel Trapped?

Many people who are abused by their intimate partner just want the violence and abuse to stop, but they don't want the relationship to end. But even when they do want to get out of the relationship with the abuser, it's hard.

Under the best of circumstances, it is not easy to end a relationship with an intimate partner. Love, family, shared memories, and commitment are bonds that are hard to break. Cultural or religious beliefs may be barriers to ending a marriage. Immigration status may be another obstacle. While ending a relationship is hard for everyone, women who are abused face the added risks of physical, emotional and psychological harm. There are risks that come with every decision an abused woman makes.

Remember: there are many good reasons why it may be difficult to be safe or to end a relationship with an abusive partner. The choices abused women are faced with are not risk-free. Leaving is not always the safest or best option.

Risks of Getting Help or Deciding to Leave

Risks of physical violence and psychological harm

Risks to Children

Risks to Finances

Risks to Relationship

Risks to Relationships with Family, Friends and Community