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"I spoke out to put a face to the issue for the millions of women, men and children who suffer in silence and to say that you are not alone. Help is available." ~ Ayanna Pressley, Boston City Councilor (Photo by Christopher Mason)

Things to know about offenders

You are not alone in wanting to create a safer environment for yourself, your family, and your community.

Safety is paramount: It is important to pay attention to the warning signs of abusive behavior. See domestic violence and sexual assault warning signs.  A trained sexual or domestic violence advocates can help you develop a safety plan that works for you. If you are not yet ready to talk with someone, you can learn about your options to create the safety you deserve. While written for victims of domestic violence, many of the same considerations and action steps in this safety plan document are appropriate for victims of sexual violence as well.

Change requires help: You may be hoping the person abusing you or your loved one will change. Our experience shows that once a person begins to be abusive, the problem will not go away unless there is individual and/or community intervention. Those who hurt someone may promise themselves and others that they will change, but they cannot learn at the expense of people they love.

You can find out more about what kinds of intervention and educational services are available and how you might share this information with the person abusing you by talking to a program that specializes in helping people who have offended. In Massachusetts, you can contact any of the following:
- an advocate at a sexual or domestic violence program
- a Batterer’s Intervention Program or
- a sex offender treatment provider.

There's no excuse for abuse. While people with mental illness or whose judgment is impaired by drugs or alcohol do commit sexual assault, rape, battering, or other abusing behaviors, these are not excuses or explanations for the violence.

Couples counseling and mediation will not resolve violence. As long as the violence remains a significant threat, couples and families cannot safely be treated together in counseling or through mediation. However, once the abuser has completed the assessment and treatment process and the victim/survivor is interested or willing to engage in a process, counseling with a trained professional may help to resolve some underlying or associated issues.

Anger does not cause abuse. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, and it does not cause abuse. Even though abusers can be angry at times, abuse and anger are not the same thing. Abuse happens when an individual chooses manipulative, threatening or physically or sexually violent behavior to gain power and control over another individual. Abusive tactics may occur without any anger evident in the abuser. Abusers often use anger as an excuse to lay blame on victims and survivors who they may accuse of making them angry. An anger management approach can reinforce the abusers belief that a victim needs to change behavior rather than the abuser. That’s why a general anger management program is no substitute for a specialized domestic violence offender program or a sex offender treatment program.


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