When Intimacy Turns Violent
Know the early signs of physical, emotional, and verbal abuse to protect yourself from an abusive relationship and domestic violence.
Protect Yourself from Abuse
If you are - or suspect you are - in an abusive relationship, there are
steps you can take to help ensure your safety, says McMahon.
- In a heated situation, stay away from the kitchen - reportedly one of the
most common places for domestic violence - where there are too many potential
weapons. Also avoid any small rooms, such as bathrooms or closets, where you
can be trapped.
- Call 911 as soon as possible.
- Get medical help as soon as possible if you've been hit.
- Take photos of any injuries to yourself or your children.
- Try to keep a phone with you at all times, and memorize emergency phone
numbers (such as the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE).
- Set up a system with a trusted neighbor - such as flashing your porch
lights on and off - to alert her that you're in danger and you want her to call
- Keep a small suitcase packed for yourself and your children, with key
documents like your Social Security card, health insurance card and driver's
- If you're being stalked, get an unlisted phone number, screen all your
calls, and frequently change your driving times, routes and other daily
- Alert the security officer at your workplace if you think you're in
Finally, says McMahon, pay attention to your instincts. "If you're feeling
bad about the relationship - even if you don't know why - don't ignore it.
Listen to your gut."
Domestic Violence and Abuse: The Facts
If you wonder whether domestic violence is really a problem, consider these
â¢ Battering. About 572,000 assaults by intimate partners are
officially reported each year, and at least 170,000 of these assaults require
hospitalization, emergency room care or a doctor's care.
â¢ Sexual assault. Every year about 132,000 women in the United
States report rape or attempted rape - and more than half of them knew their
attackers. Domestic violence experts estimate that many more women are raped
but don't report it. Every year, 1.2 million women are forcibly raped by their
current or former male partners, some more than once, according to the National
Association of Women.
â¢ Death. Every day 4 women die in the United States as a result of
domestic violence at the hands of their husbands or partners. The number of
women who have been murdered by domestic violence is greater than the number of
soldiers killed in the Vietnam War.
Domestic violence is a grim reality, but you can help protect yourself by
watching for early signs of abuse and getting out of an abusive relationship as
quickly as possible.