With a $17,000 commitment for a first house back in 1982, Haven House, Blount County’s domestic violence shelter for women and children, has gone on to serve thousands of families in crisis in its 30-year existence.
Excerpted from a Dear Abby column, published December 19 2007, here is a list of classic warning signs. If you recognize these signs, you may be involved with an abuser, and should seek assistance.
- Pushes for a quick, exclusive commitment
- Controlling especially regarding money and whereabouts
- Unrealistic expectations
- Isolation from family and friends
- Blames others for problems or mistakes
- Makes others responsible for his/her feelings
- Cruelty to animals or children
- Playful use of force during sex
- Verbal abuse
- Rigid gender roles
- Sudden mood swings
- Past history of battering
- Threats of violence
Not every abuser shows every one of the above signs, but if you are uncomfortable about a relationship for any of the above reasons, you have the right to end it!
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Redbook has published an excellent story of two women -- the abused and the friend who saved her life, just by asking if she was okay. It is often as simple as that: a question, asked in genuine concern and compassion, and a willingness to do what it takes to help. DON'T ask "How could you let this happen?" -- it's not helpful! Instead, ask "Are you okay? Is there something I can do to help?"
When abuser is there:
- Stay out of rooms with no exit.
- Avoid rooms that may have weapons.
- Select a code word that alerts friends and children to call police.
- Leave suitcase and checklist items with a friend.
When abuser has moved out:
- Obtain an order of protection.
- Change locks on doors and windows.
- Insert a peephole in the door.
- Change telephone number, screen calls and block caller ID.
- Install/increase outside lighting.
- Consider getting a dog
- Inform landlord or neighbor of situation, and ask that police be called if abuser is seen around the house.
- Use a safer computer
- Create new email/IM accounts
- Change passwords and pin numbers
- Privatize your phone settings
- Consider a new cell phone
- Minimize use of cordless phones/baby monitors
Safety at work
What to do:
- Tell your employer:
- Give security a photo of abuser and order of protection.
- Screen your calls.
- Have an escort to your car or bus.
- Vary your route home.
- Consider a cell phone for your car.
- Carry a noisemaker or personal alarm.
Protecting your children
- Plan and rehearse an escape route with your children.
- If it is safe, teach them a code word to call 911, and how to use a public telephone.
- Let school personnel know to whom children can be released.
- Give school personnel a photo of abuser.
- Warn school personnel not to divulge your address and phone number.
Getting an order of protection
- Call (865) 273-5500 to learn about an order of protection and injunction against harassment.
- Call the Police to get an immediate Order of Protection.
- Keep your order with you at ALL times, and give copies to family, friends, schools, employers and babysitters.
IN AN EMERGENCY - CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY
- Go to an emergency room if you need medical help.
- Take pictures of bruises and injuries.
The Bellevue, Washington-based "Eastside Domestic Violence Program" has published a simple list of signs that, when taken together, make great signposts for the cycle of domestic violence. If you recognize your situation in any of these signs, it might be time to seek help.