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Domestic Violence

KCAVP defines domestic violence as a pattern of behaviors used by one person to exercise power and control over another person. Behaviors include, but are not limited to:
  • Physical, verbal and emotional abuse
  • Sexual violence
  • Threatening
  • Stalking
  • Harassment

Domestic violence is an indiscriminate crime. Statistics show that victims span all genders, races, socioeconomic classes, ages, education levels, occupations, disabilities, religions and political affiliations. Moreover, a person's mannerisms, personality and physical attributes such as size and weight are poor indicators of their risk to becoming a victim or perpetrator of domestic violence crimes.

Some people are often surprised to learn that domestic violence occurs in LGBT relationships to the same frequency and severity as it does among heterosexuals.

Recognizing Domestic Violence

Domestic violence commonly begins in a way that people are slow to recognize as abuse -- such as emotional and verbal attacks -- and often escalates into physical violence that can be life threatening. Here are some common behaviors that can help you, a family member, or a friend recognize domestic violence:

Physical Abuse
Hitting, choking, slapping, burning, shoving, hitting with objects/using a weapon or restraining you.

Restricting Freedom
Controlling who you can see, what groups or organizations you can be in, what you can read or know about, what movies you can see, where you can go.

Emotional Abuse
Criticizing you, humiliating you, lying to you, neglecting you, causing you to feel degraded.

Threats and Intimidation
Threatening to harm children, family, friends, or pets. Threatening to report your orientation, HIV or citizenship status to the authorities or others.

Economic Abuse
Taking control of your money or stealing it, running up debts, making you dependent against your will.

Sexual Abuse
Forcing sex or certain sex acts, forcing sex with others, assaulting parts of your body, withholding sex, criticizing sexual performance, refusing safer sex, disrespecting "safe words" or violating boundaries of a "scene."

Destruction of Property
Damaging personal objects or clothing, overturning or breaking furniture, vandalizing the home, throwing or smashing things, destroying clothes, hurting or killing pets.

HIV-Related Abuse
Getting in the way of medical treatment; withholding medications; destroying important documents; threatening to reveal HIV status to friends, family, employers, immigration or governmental authorities.

Heterosexist Control
Threatening to "out" you to others in situations where you have chosen not to come out or feel it is unsafe to do so.

If you are questioning whether or not you are a victim of domestic violence, think about these questions:

  • Is your relationship making you feel confused, nervous, or scared?
  • Do you feel like you have to watch what you say or do around your partner?
  • Do you ever feel afraid of your partner?
  • Do you feel your relationship is either great or awful-but never just okay?
  • Are you frightened of your partner's temper?
  • Do give in because you are afraid of being punished verbally or physically by your partner?
  • Do you make decisions about social and family contacts according to how your partner reacts?
  • Do you censor your reactions, opinions, conversations to avoid causing conflict?
  • Do you feel ashamed of, or responsible for, your partner's behavior?
  • Have you have been kicked, hit, shoved or had things thrown at or around you?

Does your partner repeatedly:

  • Tell you who you could see or where you could go?
  • Tell you what to wear?
  • Tell you how you should spend your money?
  • Get in the way of your medical care?
  • Threaten you physically?
  • Push you, hit you, or hold you down?
  • Threaten to tell someone that you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender?
  • Force you to have sex in unwanted ways or against your will?
  • Refuse to have safe sex?
  • Disrespect your "safe words" or violate the boundaries of a "scene" (for example: S/M, leather, role playing)?

Doing Something About Domestic Violence

Most victims of domestic violence tend to minimize what is happening to them because they feel guilty, embarrassed, shameful and responsible -- or because others do not believe them, responding instead with criticism and accusations of exaggeration. Leaving is often the hardest thing for a victim to accomplish, and is often harder than staying. Taking action in response to domestic violence requires strength, resources, self-confidence, self-reliance, and good self-esteem -- the very same things that weaken and erode as a result of life with an abuser.

But silence about domestic violence only feeds the isolation that victims of domestic violence feel, and gives more power their abusers. The only way to end the cycle of domestic violence is to do something about it.

Safety Plan Guidelines
Leaving an abusive relationship without a safety plan is dangerous and can put your life at risk. Following is a list of ideas to help you create a safety plan. Contact KCAVP for more information, if you have questions or need help.

Keep a bag packed that is ready to go and easy to grab at a moment's notice. Remember that if an argument seems unavoidable, try to move to a room with easy access to an exit, but not a bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near potential weapons.

  • Keep emergency cash hidden where you can get to it quickly.
  • Keep important papers with you or in your packed bag so you will have them when you leave.
  • Devise a code word to use with your family, children, friends or neighbors when you need the police.
  • If the situation is very dangerous, use your best judgment to keep you safe. Call the police as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • You have the right to obtain an order of protection. Keep the order of protection with you at all times. Leave extra copies at work, with a friend, and in your car.
  • Explore different ways to leave the home safely. Identify which doors, windows, or stairwell would be best.
  • Open a bank account and/or credit card in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways you can increase your independence.
  • Have positive thoughts about yourself and be clear about your needs. Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.

Safety Plan Checklist
If you are planning to leave, here is a checklist of things you may need to take with you.

  • Identification - birth certificates, driver's license, passport, Social Security card.
  • Money - ATM card, checkbook, credit cards.
  • House and car keys.
  • Any photos of physical abuse.
  • Legal papers including a copy of the order of protection (if you have one), medical records, paternity or custody papers, etc.
  • Address book and important telephone numbers.
  • Work permits, green card, and any naturalization paperwork.
  • Pets.
  • Medications.

Call KCAVP at 816-561-0550 to talk with someone who understands and can help.