Domestic Violence Prevention: Methods And Resources
Content/Trigger Warning: Please be advised, the below article might mention trauma-related topics that include sexual assault & violence, which could potentially be triggering.
Fifteen percent of all violent crime happens between intimate partners. This information is based on intimate partner abuse stats. Using domestic violence prevention techniques and resources, you can stay safe in your relationship or help someone you know or someone in your community does the same.
Know What Domestic Violence Is
Domestic violence is considered a serious health problem. It's violence that happens within the context of a close relationship, particularly with an intimate partner. If you don't learn how to identify intimate partner violence now, you could put yourself in danger of experiencing it without your knowledge.
Define Intimate Partner
Someone is considered your intimate partner if:
- You're emotionally connected with them
- You have regular contact with them
- You have regular physical contact or sexual behavior with them
- You consider yourselves a couple
- You're familiar with each other's lives
Types Of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence can range from mild to life-threatening. It can happen once or often over the course of years. There are four basic types of domestic or intimate partner violence.
- Physical violence - hurting someone through physical force, including hitting, kicking, slapping, punching, biting, choking, etc. Physical violence also includes forcing someone to do these acts to someone else.
- Sexual violence - rape, forcing someone to penetrate someone else who doesn't consent, unwanted sexual contact, forcing someone to view pornography or engage in other unwanted sexual experiences.
- Stalking - unwanted attention that causes the victim fear and concern for their safety or the safety of someone else; for example, unwanted phone calls, spying, following from a distance, threatening a pet, etc.
- Psychological aggression - verbal or nonverbal aggression meant to mentally or emotionally harm or control someone.
Recognize Red Flags And Signs Of Abuse
To prevent domestic violence, you need to stop it before it happens. The following signs of abuse may appear just before the domestic violence happens, or they may appear early in the relationship.
- They intentionally embarrass you
- They prevent you from working
- They control all the financial decisions that affect you
- They blame you for all the relationship problems
- They maliciously damage your property
- They're jealous of your friends
- They don't like you spending time away from them
- They threaten to hurt you, someone you love, or a pet if you don't do what they say
- They emotionally push you into having sex when you don't want it
- They intimidate you with physical displays of power and weapons
Learn Healthy Relationship Skills
The best method for domestic violence prevention is to only be in a healthy, positive relationship. Does that mean you have to leave your partner if you have relationship problems? Not necessarily. You can learn healthy relationship skills together and get your partnership on a healthy track. Better yet, you can learn healthy relationship skills from the beginning of the relationship.
For safe communication, both partners need to feel free to communicate openly and honestly. Communication includes both expressing yourself and actively listening to the other person. You need to be able to have important conversations face-to-face without being verbally or physically attacked.
You need to learn ways of dealing with conflict. If you become angry, you can wait up to 48 hours before you tell your partner or decide not to tell them at all, especially if you feel you're in danger by telling. If you talk to them when you're angry, you need to take a short break, figure out the real problem, talk to them, and listen to them. They need to do the same for you. You also need to respect each other's opinions.
Trust is crucial in an intimate partner relationship. When you assume your partner is telling you their truth and assuming the same, you can avoid unnecessary hurt feelings.
Every relationship - even between intimate partners - needs to be built on mutual respect for healthy boundaries. Examples of healthy boundaries include:
- You have the final say on any decisions concerning only you
- Your partner includes you in financial decisions
- You control your property
- You are in control of your own actions
- It's your decision whether to agree to sex
- Your partner doesn't force you to become pregnant
For an intimate relationship to work, each partner needs to respect the other. You respect each other's opinions and freedom to choose. You deal with sexual matters respectfully with each other, deciding together if you want to have sexual relations at any specific time. If someone doesn't consent to sex, the other partner respects their decision and honors it.
Build Support Systems
Everyone needs a support system. When you're in an unequal or unhealthy relationship, you need more support than ever. Reach out to families and friends to get to know them better. Meet new people when you can. Be involved in community or volunteer projects where you can talk to people outside the relationship.
Support groups can sometimes help, too. When domestic violence support groups were first established, their focus was on people who had left abusive relationships. More recently, though, support groups have been started to help women who are still in such relationships. These groups tend to focus on safety planning, learning about abuse dynamics, and getting emotional support. They are also encouraged to learn more about the benefits of domestic violence counseling.
Practice Tech Safety
If you're in an unhealthy and potentially violent relationship, you need to know how your partner might monitor the way you use your smartphone, tablet, or computer.
Open a new email account if you need to send and receive emails concerning current or potential abuse or plans to leave. Use that account only on a safe computer.
Use a pay-as-you-go cell phone to use when you don't want your partner to monitor your device use. Know that your car's GPS may be used to find your location.
Be careful with social media. Avoid posting anything personal, especially if it's something your partner can use to hurt you or find you after you leave. Ask your friends not to make social media posts that might reveal information about you.
Know Your Rights
The legal system can help domestic violence even before you decide to leave a potentially violent relationship. Find out the legal definitions regarding domestic violence where you are. Learn how you can get help and what options you'll have if you do leave.
Make A Safety Plan
Having a safety plan in place when you need it might save your life. Your safety plan is a practical plan tailored to you and your unique circumstances. Its purpose is to help you stay safe while in the relationship, when getting ready to leave it, and after you've left.
You can call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help with creating your own individualized safety plan. They're known for understanding how to prevent domestic violence when possible and what to do if it happens. Here are some of the types of things you might include in a safety plan:
- Identifying safe places to hide or go to in times of crisis
- Learning about resources where you are
- Knowing what legal help is available and where to get it
- Teaching your children how to get help if needed
- Making up a list of reasons you have to leave the house
- Documenting red flag behaviors and domestic violence incidents
- Preparing yourself for life away from your abuser by getting job skills or taking courses
- Getting a restraining order
- Having ID and other important papers ready
- Calling 911 or a hotline when your life is in danger
- Planning what you will do if your partner finds out about the plan
Know Vital Contact Information
If you're in a dangerous situation, you'll probably need some help. Know the names and contact information of organizations that can help you, such as shelters and domestic violence hotlines, as well as the contact information of supportive friends. Memorize these numbers or keep them with you so you'll have them when you need them.
You can also get support and guidance in understanding domestic violence from a therapist. If you feel it's unsafe for you to go to a therapist's office physically, one option is to get online therapy from a licensed counselor at ReGain.us. Your counselor can help you learn better relationship skills for domestic violence prevention or after you've left. They can support you as you make crucial decisions about whether, when, and how to leave. You can also learn more about it by attending domestic violence classes.
No one should ever have to be afraid of their intimate partner. If someone you're in a close relationship with shows any warning signs of domestic violence, don't hesitate to get help. That’s why educating yourself about various types of domestic violence help you to become aware of your situation and guide you through handling it. Even if you aren't ready to leave, you need to prepare yourself for staying safe both when you're in the relationship and if you choose to leave it. Get to know more about what is the coalition against domestic violence here.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is domestic violence preventable?
Domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence or dating violence, can be preventable, but maybe not in the sense you think. When we say that domestic violence is preventable, we in no way mean that the individual experiencing domestic violence is at fault or that he or she could have prevented the domestic attack. Rather, we mean to say that, on a larger scale, society can learn to condemn and prevent domestic violence. Furthermore, the perpetrator of violence may diagnose and treat any untreated mental health problems that could be causing the violent outbursts.
To consider preventing domestic violence, let’s consider the most typical causes. Research suggests domestic violence may be caused by:
- Undiagnosed or untreated mental health issues or personality disorders on the part of the perpetrator
- A society that encourages inequality, such as a patriarchal family or culture that sees it as the role of the man to control his female partner
- The perpetrator experiences extreme jealousy and insecurity
- The abuser was raised in a household in which violence was normalized or even encouraged
- The abuser feels the need to control his or her partner
With those causes in mind, let’s consider the solutions.
Oftentimes, preventing intimate partner violence begins with workshops, courses, or therapy to help manage communication as a couple. According to the national resource center on domestic violence, one can also learn to manage emotions through these methods better to prevent domestic violence.
If a society or country begins to notice domestic violence as a trend, with percentages of domestic abuse higher than other countries and societies, then social movements designed to bring attention to the problem, normalize speaking about it, and empowering survivors, can, over time, lead to effective social change. And, most importantly, changing a society begins in the home. By preventing and treating violence behind closed doors, an entire culture can change for the better.
Before entering into a relationship, a person who experiences mental health problems should speak to a counselor or therapist and learn how to manage their symptoms before committing to a relationship that could potentially harm someone. Even without symptoms, anyone raised in a violent household should consider speaking to a counselor either online or in-person to talk about potential embedded trauma that they may not otherwise notice.
Individuals engaging in healthy relationships can take steps such as therapy and counseling at the beginning of a new relationship or throughout to bring awareness to the possibility of sexual violence and dating violence.
Moreover, prevention programs exist to raise violence awareness and increase injury prevention in romantic and sexual relationships. To see specific resources and more information about intimate partner violence and how to prevent domestic violence and raise violence awareness, you can visit the page about awareness and prevention from the national resource center on domestic violence https://www.nrcdv.org/awareness.
Please call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 if you are experiencing any dating violence or observing dating violence happening to someone you know.
How can we prevent violence?
Preventing intimate partner violence, including sexual violence, is the first step to helping stop violence in domestic situations in your community.
The key to violence prevention is awareness.
You can visit the centers for disease control and prevention at https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/prevention.html to read more helpful information about what domestic violence and sexual violence can look like.
Next, to prevent intimate partner violence, it is possible to learn and implement several strategies to help in any relationship. Here are some useful ways a community can help stop violence:
- Teaching emotional management strategies and healthy relationship skills- preventing intimate partner and sexual violence begins with teaching young people about emotional management and what a healthy relationship can look like.
- Investing in safe, stable settings for children and families- the centers for disease control and prevention state that safe schools, neighborhoods, and workplaces dramatically reduce the risk of intimate partner violence.
- Creating community prevention programs- support programs for individuals experiencing domestic violence and ally workshops and programs for family safety can help reduce the instances of national domestic violence.
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, please use these prevention methods as soon as possible.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233
- Call the RAINN (Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network) National Sexual Assault Hotline for instances of sexual violence at 1-800-656-4673
- Visit the national resource center on the domestic violence website at https://www.nrcdv.org/
What is primary prevention in domestic violence?
Primary prevention in domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence, dating violence, or sexual violence) is the act of violence and injury prevention before it even begins.
The goal of primary prevention is to reduce or stop violence entirely. It works through concrete steps taken well in advance to increase injury prevention before it occurs. If proper primary prevention steps are taken, such as raising violence awareness and performing injury prevention in domestic situations, intimate partner violence cases can be dramatically reduced. To prevent domestic violence before it occurs, several steps can be taken.
- Increasing funding for violence prevention programs in schools
- Aiding community people to create safer environments for anyone susceptible to violence
- Raising violence awareness
- Making hotlines such as the national domestic violence hotline widely available
- Increasing awareness of informative web pages on dating violence and sexual violence such as the national resource center on domestic violence and the centers for disease control and prevention
- Using domestic injury prevention methods among couples and families such as therapy
These are methods to prevent domestic violence before it even occurs by increasing awareness and developing a safer home, work, and school environment. Decreasing instances of national domestic violence begin with primary prevention. By learning about dating violence through trusted resources that teach primary prevention, such as the centers for disease control and prevention and the national resource center on domestic violence, we can reduce the likelihood of national domestic violence.
How can we prevent partner violence?
Preventing intimate partner violence also referred to as dating violence, or sexual violence, begins with violence awareness. Intimate partner violence can occur in any unhealthy relationship, so it is extremely important to be aware of violence and injury prevention methods. The important thing to note is that preventing intimate partner violence is possible through many different methods.
As a community:
- Violence awareness and emotional learning resources and programs for children
- Education about the bystander effect and how to be a better ally
- Programs oriented towards family health.
- Investing in school and workplace safety
As an individual or couple:
- Awareness of the national domestic violence hotline
- Research about injury prevention on the website for the centers for disease control and prevention and the national resource center on domestic violence
- Therapy to improve emotional management and communication skills
What are the 3 most common types of intimate partner violence?
According to disease control and prevention centers, there are four very common types of intimate partner violence.
- Sexual violence - This is a form of intimate partner violence when a partner forces you to into sexual acts that you do not consent to. It can also occur in situations in which a partner physically cannot consent. This could be due to the fact they are inebriated or asleep. Sexual violence can include rape, molestation, non-consensual sexting, or any non-consensual sex act. If you experience sexual violence, please call the national domestic violence hotline as soon as possible.
- Physical violence - This form of dating violence can include any form of physical force such as punching, slapping, or kicking to harm one’s partner. Injury prevention is key to avoiding this kind of intimate partner violence. Call the national domestic violence hotline if you experience any physical violence from an intimate partner.
- Stalking - Stalking is when an individual does not cease to give unwanted attention to another person. It can often cause fear or lead to other forms of violence and warrant further injury prevention methods. Even though a stalker may not be your partner, you can still call the national domestic violence hotline for help.
- Psychological aggression - This form of dating violence is often very difficult to detect. It may involve either verbal or non-verbal communication to cause harm to a partner. Through words and non-physical actions, partners may not realize they need to take actions to prevent domestic violence in their own relationship. Be aware of this type of violence if you feel like your partner may be trying to take control over you or manipulate you with their words and call the national domestic violence hotline for help.
For more information on any of these common types of intimate partner violence, please visit the webpage at the centers for disease control and domestic violence prevention https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepartnerviolence/fastfact.html and if you are experiencing any of the above, call the national domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
What are some strategies for preventing abuse?
How can we promote domestic violence awareness?
Why domestic violence should be stopped?
Why is domestic violence prevention important?
What factors influence domestic violence?