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Are You A Victim?

Domestic Violence: Disagreements develop from time to time in relationships. Domestic violence is not a disagreement. Domestic violence encompasses a wide range of acts committed by one partner against another in an intimate relationship. This may occur in a variety of relationships.

Domestic violence is a pattern of behaviors, some causing physical injury, others not, some criminal, others not, but all psychologically damaging. Frequently, domestic violence includes threats of violence, threats of suicide, or threats to take children from the abused person. It may also include breaking objects, hurting pets, yelling, driving recklessly to endanger or scare the abused person, isolating family members from others, and controlling resources like money, vehicles, credit, and time.

The goal of an abusive person is to establish and maintain control over his or her partner.

Domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior whose effects, without intervention, become more destructive and sometimes lethal.

There's no excuse for domestic violence.

Does your Partner:

  • Embarrass you with put-downs
  • Look at you or act in ways that scare you
  • Control what you do, who you see or talk to, or where you go
  • Stop you from seeing your friends or family members
  • Take your money, make you ask for money or refuse to give you money
  • Make all the decisions
  • Tell you that you're a bad parent or threaten to take away or hurt your children
  • Prevent you from working or attending school
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, it's your fault, or even denying doing it
  • Destroy your property or threaten to kill your pets
  • Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Shove you , slap you, strangle or hit you
  • Force you to try and drop charges
  • Threaten to commit suicide
  • Threaten to kill you
  • Use drugs and alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you
  • Pressure you sexually.
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them
  • Accuse you of being mentally unstable

Do You...

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner's behavior
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you change something about yourself
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make you partner angry
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up

If you answered ' YES' to any of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Remember, when one person scares, hurts or continually puts down the other person, it's abuse. Without help, the abuse may continue. Please feel free to contact the Family Justice Center about any concerns.

What To Do Now?

Once a violent act takes place in a relationship, the violence almost always reoccurs.

In fact, the violence often increases in severity and frequency even though the abusive partner apologizes and promises to change. A common tactic of a batterer is to isolate you by causing disagreements between you and those who care about you (family and friends). It is important to be prepared in case of another attack. The following tips can help keep you safe.

Regardless of whether you may be afraid, embarrassed or ashamed, your safety and the safety of your children depend on your willingness to take action. Remember, your community is ready and willing to support you.

1. Complete your Personalized Safety Plan (see below)

2. Practice and Prepare

  • Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a relative's or friend's home in order to be able to leave quickly. Include money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medication and clothes.
  • Identify one or more neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a codeword to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need them to call the police.
  • Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will ever need to).
  • Open a savings account and/or a credit card in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence. Also get your own post office box. You can privately receive checks and letters to begin your independence.
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money. Emergency shelter is available.
  • Keep the shelter or hotline phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times.
  • Memorize as many important phone numbers as you can.

3. Safety During an Attack

  • Get to a safe place.
  • If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit. Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else where weapons might be available.
  • If you need to confront your abuser, do so in a public place.
  • Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he/she wants to calm him/her down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
  • Always remember that you don't deserve to be hit or threatened.

4. Safety After an Attack

  • Explain the incident. Tell the police where you are. Answer the dispatcher's questions as clearly as possible. Let the police know whether weapons or drugs were involved. Let them know whether you have a protection order against your abuser.
  • When the police take a statement, make sure to tell them the name and addresses of any witnesses to the incident.
  • The police can make sure you and your children get to the hospital or a safe place. You can ask the police to wait a reasonable amount of time while you pack some essentials.
  • If the abuser is taken to jail, s/he may be released quickly. The abuser will be given an opportunity to post bond and get out of jail, sometimes within a few hours. Be prepared.

You can check with the jail http://www.co.thurston.wa.us/sheriff/bureau-corrections-roster-search.asp to see if the abuser will be released.

5. Seek Medical Attention

  • Always seek medical attention; you may be injured more seriously than you think. Go to your private doctor, a clinic or emergency room.
  • Tell the doctor or nurse what happened. Ask them to take pictures of your injuries.
  • Find out how to get copies of your records. Tell them you will sign a waiver so that the prosecutor or your attorney can get copies of those medical records when necessary.
  • The law prohibits discrimination by your insurance company. It cannot deny your claim or drop your policy because of domestic violence.

6. Document Your Injuries and Preserve Evidence

  • If you feel comfortable and safe, keep a journal or diary that describes each time you suffer abuse.
  • If you did not have photographs taken while you were receiving medical care, ask a friend, someone from a domestic violence shelter, or the police to take photographs of your injuries as soon as possible.
  • Preserve all additional evidence, including torn or bloody clothing, weapons, photographs of the destruction of property and the disarray in the house, statements from anyone who heard or saw the attack.

7. Call the Thurston County Family Justice Center at 360-754-9297 x204.

8. Safety After Leaving the Abuser

  • Remember, leaving your batterer is the most dangerous time.
  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Change your phone number and screen your calls.
  • Relocate and consider establishing a new identity http://www.ssa.gov/pubs/10093.html.
  • Vary your routine.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
  • Inform your children's school, daycare, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Inform neighbors and your landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him/her near your home.

9. Safety With a Protection Order

  • Keep your order with you at all times. Give a copy to a trusted neighbor, family member or friend.
  • Call the police if your partner violates the protection order.
  • Think of alternate ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends, and neighbors that you have a protection order in effect.

10. Safety on the Job and in Public

  • Decide whom at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.
  • Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID, or a trusted friend screen your calls.
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus and wait with you until you are safely on your way. Use a variety of routes to go home, if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going to or from work.

Internet and Computer Safety


Computers create records in hundreds of ways of everything you do on the computer and on the Internet.

If you are in danger, please try to use a safer computer where someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access.

  • It might be safer to use a computer in:
    • A public library
    • A community technology center
    • A trusted friend's house
    • An Internet Cafe
  • If you think your activities are being monitored, you are probably right. 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.
  • Computers can provide a lot of information about what you look at on the Internet, the emails you send, and other activities.

    It is not possible to delete or clear all computer 'footprints.'

Example: If you are planning to flee to Texas, don't look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, or bus tickets to Texas on a home computer or any computer an abuser has physical or remote access to.

Use a safer computer to research an escape plan.


Taking all of the actions on this page may not prevent an abuser from discovering your email and Internet activity. The safest way to find information on the Internet is to go to a safer computer. Some suggestions would be your local library, a friend's house or your workplace. Other safety suggestions: Change your password often, do not pick obvious words or numbers for your password, and make sure to include a combination of letters and numbers for your password.


If an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail.

Even if you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess.

If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, you can print and save them as evidence of this abuse. These messages may also constitute a federal offense.

For more information on this issue, contact your local United States Attorney's Office.

Erasing Your Tracks

History/cache file

If an abuser knows how to read your computer's history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed on the Internet.

You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser's settings:


  1. Pull down Edit menu, select Preferences.
  2. Click on Navigator or choose Clear History.
  3. Click on Advanced then select Cache.
  4. Click on Clear Disk Cache.

Internet Explorer:

  1. Pull down Tools menu, select Internet Options.
  2. On General page under Temporary Internet Files, Click on Delete Files. If asked, check the box to delete all offline content.
  3. Still within the Temporary Internet Files section, click on Setting (This step may make it harder to navigate pages where you would like your information to be remembered, but these remaining cookies do show website pages you have visited. Therefore, use your own judgment as to whether or not to take this next step).
  4. Click on View Files. Manually highlight all the files (cookies) shown then hit Delete.
  5. Close that window, then on General page under History section, click on Clear History.


  1. Pull down Members menu, select Preferences.
  2. Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced.
  3. []
  4. Purge Cache.

Additionally, you need to make sure that the Use Inline Auto-complete box is NOT checked. This function will complete partial web addresses while typing location in the address bar at the top of the browser.

If you are using Internet Explorer:

This box can be found on the MS Internet Explorer Page by clicking on 'Tools' at the top of the screen, then 'Internet Options' and then the 'Advanced' tab.

About halfway down there is a 'Use Inline Auto-complete' box that can be checked or unchecked by clicking on it. Uncheck the box to disable the feature that automatically completes an Internet address when you start typing in the Internet address box.

*This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet would be at a local library, a friend's house, or at work.

For Friends and Family

If you have seen, heard, suspect, or are concerned about domestic violence or abuse involving people you know, this section offers suggested actions you can take to help.

Your offer of help could make the difference to someone living in an abusive situation.

  • If you see or hear an assault, call 9-1-1.
  • You may suspect abuse if you observe some of these warning signs:
  • Frequent bruises or injuries
  • The person becomes unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • The person is absent from work a lot or quits
  • The person stops talking about her partner
  • The person wears concealing clothes even in warm weather

While there is no single correct way to help a victim, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Talk in a safe, private place
  • Take the time to listen, and believe what you hear
  • Don't underestimate the danger
  • Express your concern for the person's safety
  • Don't expect change overnight; be patient and continue to offer support
  • Don't judge or criticize your friend's decisions
  • Encourage the person to make her own choices, but urge her to talk to someone who knows about domestic violence
  • Let the person know that many other people are in abusive situations and tell about agencies that can help

You can learn more about domestic violence by reading other sections of these pages. As you learn more, you will be more likely to spot friends who need help and to know how to help them.

For Employers or Co-Workers

If you see or hear an assault, call 9-1-1.

If you suspect a person you work with is being abused, you can help.

Some warning signs of abuse that might show up in the workplace are:

  • Unexplained bruises
  • Lack of concentration
  • Change in performance or attitude
  • Increased or unexplained absence
  • Receiving harassing telephone calls
  • Disruptive personal visits to the workplace
  • Depression or anxiety

While there is no single correct way to help a victim, here are some important things to keep in mind:

  • Learn as much as you can about domestic violence.
  • If you observe warning signs, let the person know you notice a problem and that you are concerned.
  • If the person wants to talk to you, ask what help (if any) would be most useful to the employee (for example, time off for court appearances, security escorts to the car, not transferring calls from the abuser to the employee).
  • Don't allow the situation to become a topic of office gossip.
  • Don't tell the person what to do or judge their decisions.
  • Get help from Human Resources, Personnel, the Employee Assistance Program, or other resources in your company or organization.
  • Managers and supervisors should understand the laws that restrict employers from asking employees about certain health or home life issues.
  • Employers should learn about and understand laws that protect and assist victims as employees
  • If you need information about these laws, seek out someone in your company who can help you.

Your willingness to help can be very important to someone who is being abused.

For Teens

Violence in relationships is not just an adult problem. Abuse occurs in more than a quarter of teen relationships. Dating violence is when physical, emotional, and/or sexual force is used by one person to control or dominate the other. If you or someone you know is a victim of dating violence it is important to talk about it with someone, preferably an adult, to get help. If the first person you tell doesn't help you, talk to someone else. Keep trying to get help. If you are being abused by someone you are dating or have dated in the past, remember, you are not alone and it is not your fault. You may feel confused and scared about what is going on. But, you need to deal with it, because the abuse will likely get worse over time. It does not go away just because your partner says they will stop the abuse. The following warning signs may indicate that you are in an abusive dating relationship. You may be at risk if the person you are dating or have dated in the past:

  • Is jealous and possessive toward you, won't let you have friends, checks up on you, or won't accept breaking up.
  • Tries to control you by giving orders and making all the decisions. Doesn't take your opinion seriously.
  • Is scary. (You worry about your partner's reactions to things you might say or do.)
  • Threatens you. Uses or owns weapons.
  • Is violent. Has a history of fighting or loses temper quickly.
  • Pressures you for sex, or is forceful about sex. (In a male, may treat women or girls as sex objects.)
  • Gets too serious about the relationship too fast.
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol and pressures you to use them, too.
  • Blames you for the mistreatment you get. Says you provoked the abuse, pressed buttons, or 'asked for it.'
  • Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you they were worried about your safety.

If you have observed any of these things happening in your or another teen's relationship, dating violence could be happening.

You can prevent it from getting worse. Help is available. Look to other messages on these pages for specific things you can do and for information on community and other agencies that can help.

If you are in an abusive relationship or trying to get out of an abusive situation, here are some tips you might think about to increase your safety:

  • Stay in touch with your friends and stay involved in activities you enjoy.
  • Consider telling your parents or other family members about what is happening. They can help you screen telephone calls or visitors.
  • Try not to be alone. Let your friends know what is happening and have them walk to classes and spend time during lunch with you.
  • Tell teachers, counselors, coaches, or security guards about what is happening. Have them help you be safe.
  • Change your routine. Don't always come to school the same way, or arrive at the same time. Always have someone with you.
  • Always keep a cell phone with you so you can make phone calls.
  • Consider obtaining an Order for Protection from the court.
  • Make a list of phone numbers, including 911, crisis lines, and supportive friends whom you can call when you are upset.
  • Try not to be alone with your dating partner. Don't go by yourself to an isolated or deserted location.
  • Before leaving home to go somewhere, let other people know what your plans are and where you'll be and when.
  • Trust your instincts. If you feel you are in danger, get help immediately.
  • Break up with your partner in a public place. Let other people know that you plan to break up with your partner and let them know where you'll be and when.

Everyone has rights in a relationship. Keep in mind that you have the right:

  • To trust yourself and your instincts
  • To be respected as a person
  • To change your mind
  • To express your feelings
  • To refuse a date
  • To not be physically, emotionally, or sexually abused
  • To break up with someone who makes you feel bad