For Victims and Survivors of Domestic Violence
No one deserves to be beaten, battered, threatened, or in any way victimized by violence by their intimate partner in current or former dating, married, or cohabitating relations. Domestic violence can happen to anyone, female or male, young or old, single or married, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, or income level. Domestic violence, sometimes called battering, is against the law. And you have the right to live without physical, sexual, verbal, mental, or emotional violence or the fear of such abuse.
It’s not about a single fight or disagreement in a relationship. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behaviors where one partner is trying to gain power and control over the other. These behaviors can involve:
physical abuse or the threat of physical abuse
repeated psychological abuse
forced sexual activity
Warning signs such as jealousy, name-calling, and possessiveness are red flags for an abusive relationship. Many victims of domestic violence report that the “crazy-making” behavior of psychological abuse by batterers is more devastating than the physical violence.
You May Feel
You may feel confused that someone you love (or once loved) is hurting you.
You may feel ashamed or guilty or wonder if anyone will believe you.
Maybe you’re worried about calling the police or telling your family, friends, or co-workers.
You may have lost hope that things can change.
Your abuser may keep telling you you aren't lovable or worthy of a life without them.
Many people feel more worried about their children, or even their pets, than they do about themselves.
If you find yourself wondering if you are in a relationship with an abusive partner or have questions about your rights and your safety, please talk to a trusted adult or contact your local domestic violence program to speak to a trained advocate.
You are not alone. Millions of people are abused each day, and many, many of them find their way to a different more peaceful life. We want you to be one of those people!
Things to Know About Batterers
Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault. It is not a matter of being in a violent relationship, but rather being in a relationship with a person who is abusive. Abusers will use as many strategies as they need to establish and maintain control. Some victims of domestic violence have never been battered physically. Sometimes one threat of physical violence is enough to terrorize a person and the abuser never has to hit them again. But this doesn’t mean the violence has been “resolved” in the relationship or that the abuse has stopped. The dynamics of fear and control can be long lasting.
It’s also true that most people who are abusive rarely admit that they are the cause of the problem. It’s common for batterers to blame the victim for “making me mad” or “making me jealous.” These excuses manipulate the victim and other people by shifting the burden. Batterers also try to minimize their behavior by making false claims such as “Everyone acts like that.” Most victims try to placate and please their abusive partners in order to deescalate the violence. The batterer chooses to abuse, and bears full responsibility for the violence.
Help is Available
- Programs for Survivors – Remember: you do not have to be in crisis to call.
- Victim’s Compensation provides financial assistance for specific items to eligible victims of violent crime (brochure and application are available in English and Spanish)
- Resources for perpetrators
- Help for friends or family members
- Domestic Violence Section of Mass Legal Help - prepared by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute
- Safety for pets - two programs in Massachusetts offer temporary foster for pets: Safe People * Safe Pets and HAVEN: Human/Animal Violence Education Network