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Domestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of size, gender, or strength, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Emotional abuse is often minimized, yet it can leave deep and lasting scars.

Noticing and acknowledging the warning signs and symptoms of domestic violence and abuse is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, donít hesitate to reach out. There is help available.

Please Call us at (906) 524-7078 24 Hours a day, 7 days a week! We CAN help!

Abuse Defined

Domestic abuse occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person.

Domestic violence is abuse that turns physical. Both Domestic violence and domestic abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abusedóespecially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether itís coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Who are abusers?

Abusers are not easy to spot. There is no 'typical' abuser. In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their partner and family. They often only abuse behind closed doors. They also try to hide the abuse by causing injuries that can be hidden and do not need a doctor.

Abuse is not an accident. It does not happen because someone was stressed-out, drinking, or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. Abusers have learned to abuse so that they can get what they want. The abuse may be physical, sexual, emotional, and psychological.

Abusers often have low self-esteem. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They may even blame the victim for causing the violence.

Abusers are both male and female. Often male victims don't "see" the abuse until it gets physical. Male victims often feel ashamed and do not want to admit that their partner is abusing them. Although all feelings are valid, male victims should not feel ashamed. Violence is often a problem of learned behavior and the abuser was often an abused person either as a child by a trusted adult, or as a teen by a boy/girl friend, or as an adult in previous relationships. Breaking the cycle is a crucial step for personal growth for both the abuser and the abused.

Recognizing Abuse

It might not be easy to identify domestic violence at first. While some relationships are clearly abusive from the outset, abuse often starts subtly and gets worse over time. You might be experiencing domestic violence if you're in a relationship with someone who:

  • Calls you names, insults you or puts you down
  • Prevents you from going to work or school
  • Stops you from seeing family members or friends
  • Tries to control how you spend money, where you go, what medicines you take or what you wear
  • Acts jealous or possessive or constantly accuses you of being unfaithful
  • Gets angry when drinking alcohol or using drugs
  • Threatens you with violence or a weapon
  • Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
  • Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
  • Blames you for his or her violent behavior or tells you that you deserve it
  • Portrays the violence as mutual and consensual

Cycle of Abuse

Domestic Abuse is a cycle with a pattern which consists of three phases: the tension-building phase, the explosive/physical beating phase, and the loving phase.

Unless this cycle of violence is broken, it will continue and the abuse will become more frequent and severe.
Cycle of Abuse


Tension Building Phase:

This phase occurs prior to an overtly abusive act, and is characterized by poor communication, passive aggression, rising interpersonal tension, and fear of causing outbursts in one's partner. During this stage the victims may attempt to modify his or her behavior to avoid triggering their partner's outburst.

Explosive Phase:

Characterized by outbursts of violent, abusive incidents. During this stage the batterer attempts to dominate his/her partner (victim), with the use of domestic violence.

Honeymoon Phase:

Characterized by affection, apology, or, alternatively, ignoring the incident. This phase marks an apparent end of violence, with assurances that it will never happen again, or that the abuser will do his or her best to change. During this stage the abuser feels overwhelming feelings of remorse and sadness, or at least pretends to. Some abusers walk away from the situation with little comment, but most will eventually shower their victims with love and affection. The abuser may use self-harm or threats of suicide to gain sympathy and/or prevent the victim from leaving the relationship. Abusers are frequently so convincing, and victims so eager for the relationship to improve, that victims who are often worn down and confused by longstanding abuse, stay in the relationship.





Domestic Violence does not affect many people.


  *  1 in 4 women will experience d.v. in her life.

  *  1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year.

  * 85% of domestic violence victims are women.

  *  Most cases of domestic violence are never reported.



Battering is only a momentary loss of temper.


  *  Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another.  It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.  Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control. 



It is easy for battered women to leave their abuser.


  *  Women who leave their batterers are at a 75% greater risk of being killed by the batterer than those who stay.

  *  Nationally, 50% of all homeless women and children are on the streets because of violence in the home.



  *  There are nearly three times as many animal shelters in the United States as there are Domestic Violence Shelters for battered women and their children.



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