Abuse isn't just about physical violence. Domestic abuse is a pattern of behaviors intended to control a spouse, relative, or partner. It can start with subtle behaviors that escalate. Abuse can be physical, sexual, verbal, emotional, or economic.
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Who It Affects

While residents of long-term care facilities may be victims of abuse or neglect, most older adults live in their own homes. Therefore, most elder abuse occurs in the community, by people known to the vulnerable adult. The vast majority is perpetrated by family members through many forms:
  • physical abuse (including sexual abuse)
  • psychological and emotional abuse
  • financial/material abuse
  • neglect
  • Undocumented women who have suffered domestic abuse should know that abuse is a crime, even though in some cultures, physical violence from a husband may be seen as normal. The law will protect their rights regardless of their immigration status.

    The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) gives special protection to abused victims married to an abuser who is a US citizen or permanent resident. So, an abused wife can apply for residency, regardless of how she entered the country. Victims who are not married to a US citizen or permanent resident may qualify for a U visa.

    It doesn't matter if you are an undocumented immigrant or not. We have an interpreter who can help you with your legal status and help you find safety. Challenges faced by undocumented immigrants who are victims of abuse:
  • Isolation: An abuser may limit the victim’s contact with other people, cut off communication with family and friends in her country of origin, and prevent her from making new friends. Because an undocumented woman cannot get a job legally, her abuser may easily control the money and may limit her access to food and other resources. She also may not have access to bank accounts.
  • Language and cultural barriers: Abused immigrant women may not have the opportunity or be allowed to learn to speak, read, or write English. This may limit their options for seeking help. It is also easier for an abuser to lie to a victim who does not speak English about her immigration status, keeping her dependent and afraid.
  • Threats: An abuser may threaten to take the children, turn the victim over to authorities for deportation, or intimidate her by destroying her documents.
  • Lack of information and fear of authorities: Victims may believe that authorities will not enforce laws to protect undocumented persons and that restraining orders are not available to them. They may think that a police officer can take them to jail or deport them. They also may be under the mistaken impression that services or help are only available if there has been physical violence in the relationship. Abusers may also convince their victims that the abuse is not a crime.
  • Many LGBTQ persons (lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, transgender, queer/questioning) believe that no one will help them because they are transgender or in a same-sex relationship. LGBTQ victims may face additional obstacles when asking for help:
  • Shame or embarrassment: Victims may be struggling with their own internalized homophobia or shame about their sexual orientation or gender-identity. The abusive partner may attempt to use this shame to exert power and control over the victim.
  • Fear of not being believed or taken seriously: The victim may worry that if they report abuse, they will encounter common stereotypes, such as violence between LGBTQ partners is always mutual, abuse does not occur in lesbian relationships, only the physically bigger partner can be abusive, or LGBTQ relationships are inherently unhealthy. Their partner may exploit this fear, trying to convince them that no one will take an LGBTQ victim seriously.
  • Fear of retaliation, harassment, rejection, or bullying: If the victim is not yet “out” to everyone, the abusive partner may threaten to tell their secret to people who will make their life more difficult once others know. The victim may also fear that seeking help will make them a target of public ridicule, retaliation, harassment, or bullying. The abuser may exploit these fears to isolate them and keep them in the relationship.
  • Less legal protection: Victims may be unaware that they have legal options for protection, including obtaining a restraining or protective order. Although laws vary from state to state, and some specifically restrict restraining orders to heterosexual couples, most states have gender-neutral laws that do not discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.
  • Contrary to cultural perception, men are abused, too. Because of disbelief and ridicule when reporting abuse, male victims of domestic abuse tend to make excuses for injuries, which only allows perpetrators to continue the abuse.
    Though victims may have been injured far worse on an athletic field, it is not the same thing as being physically attacked by an intimate partner, which hurts emotionally as well as physically. Allowing this pattern to continue can result in depression, substance abuse, loss of confidence, and even suicide. No one deserves to be abused whether man, woman or child.
    Children and adults with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to neglect and abuse in all its forms. Our advocates are specially trained to be sensitive to the unique needs of persons with disabilities.
    Teen dating violence is a form of domestic abuse with its own set of red flags, and it is common in high school relationships. This type of unhealthy relationship can begin as early as 6th grade.

    Are you in a relationship with a person who...
  • is controlling? Is excessively jealous or possessive?
  • does not respect your values or opinions?
  • "talks over" you?
  • humiliates or embarrasses you?
  • expresses hostility towards the opposite sex (hostile words can become hostile acts)?
  • abuses alcohol and/or other substances?
  • makes you feel guilty for his/her abusiveness?
  • has come from an abusive home environment?
  • believes that one sex is superior to the other and is degrading?
  • treats the opposite sex as objects?
  • has a bad temper?
  • drives recklessly to scare you?
  • controls who you see and talk to, what you are allowed to wear, and keeps you from family and friends?
  • does not get along with family members?
  • is quick to argue and fight with other people?
  • does not respect your right to privacy and space?
  • does not respect your right to go to work/school?
  • plays mind games?
  • makes you ask for money or gives you an "allowance?"
  • pressures you to do things that you do not want to do?
  • does not take the abuse or your concerns seriously?
  • threatens you?
  • treats you like a servant?
  • makes you afraid by using looks, actions, and gestures, etc.?
  • hits, slaps, or pushes you?
  • forces unwanted sexual contact?
  • uses jealously, anger, or alcohol to justify the abuse?


  • >What does teen dating violence look like, and how can I help?

    >My Body Is Mine | Booklet for Teens and Pre-Teens

    >Teen Power and Control Wheel

    Red Flags

    Healthy relationships are not based on fear! These are some warning signs to be wary of. The best thing is to trust your judgement. Red flags may lead to abuse in relationships. Don't be afraid of over-reacting. Minimizing concerns may lead to being trapped in a situation that is unsafe.

    Does your partner:
  • control the finances and keep the information to yourself?
  • believe he is better than you?
  • feel jealous or possessive about you?
  • put you down?
  • check up on you or follow you?
  • listen to your phone conversations?
  • check your email account or social networking site?
  • text or call you excessively?
  • try to control what you do, where you go, and who you see?
  • blame you for his anger or actions?
  • have difficulty controlling his temper?
  • yell at you?
  • try to intimidate you with his strength and size?
  • hit things or harm pets to scare you?
  • push or restrain you when he's angry?
  • guilt or force you into having sex?
  • By themselves, these signs do not prove abuse or neglect, but they do show the need to know more about the child's circumstances. These signs can be the result of life changes such as divorce, separation, death of a significant person or the arrival of a new sibling. Indicators must be assessed by professionals. The important thing to know is what the signs are, and how to report them if a child needs protection.
  • defensive about injuries
  • have low self esteem
  • frightened by disapproval
  • wary of physical contact with adults
  • shows fear of parents or other adults
  • nervous when other children cry
  • wears clothing that covers their body even when the weather is warm
  • has behavioral extremes, such as aggression or withdrawal
  • runs away
  • not able to make friends
  • uses abusive behavior and language in play
  • has poor sleeping patterns, fear of the dark, frequent nightmares
  • sad, cries frequently
  • reluctant to undress around others
  • shows no reaction to physical pain
  • reports injury to parent
  • has unexplained burns, bites, bruises, broken bones, or black eyes
  • has fading bruises or other marks noticeable after an absence from school
  • seem frightened of parents and protests or cries when time to go home
  • reports injury by parent or caregiver
  • Additional Articles about Domestic Abuse

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