On a muggy July evening at a Fort Worth community center, 20 people stood in a makeshift set of tables of the center’s cafeteria. Ranging in ages, genders, races, and income; all of these individuals were attending a parenting support group. Many, if not most, were required to go by court order and most if not all had something in common. All of the participants in the group had at one point in their lives had to deal with Child Protective Services. Many of the individuals fall into the poverty level, may have gone to jail or somehow suffered something that put them off track with regards to providing a safe environment for their children. Before the meeting officially started, a lady from Safe Haven of Tarrant County proceeded to talk about domestic abuse. She started to talk about not just physical abuse but also emotional and mental abuse. Then she asked the one polarizing question, “What do you think is considered emotional abuse?” That question left the room silent as people looked down at the floor. Nobody wanted to answer but you could see in the faces of everyone there that at one point in their life they had experienced emotional and mental abuse, in addition to physical abuse.
The folks at Safe Haven of Tarrnt County gave everyone some information about what they can do to get help and understand the signs of domestic violence to stay free from family violence.
What are the signs of Family Violence?
There are a few things you need to ask yourself when it comes to determining if you are in an abusive or violent relationship.
1) Have you been pushed, shoved, held against your will, or kept from leaving?
2) Have you been slapped, bit, kicked, choked, punched, or had things thrown at you?
3) Has your partner drove reckless with you in the vehicle?
4) Have you been threatened by your partner?
5) Have you been raped or forced to have sex by your partner?
6) Has your partner accused you of having sex with others?
7) Does your partner insult your family and friends or try to isolate you?
8) Has your partner tried to humiliate you?
9) Have they punished or deprived you of seeing your children when they are mad at you?
10) Have they abused your pets to get back at you?
11) Have they tried to keep you from working and tried to control your money?
12) Have they criticized your or tried to call you names?
These are some of the signs that Safe Haven gave out to the support group. With the advent of technology here are some other forms of abuse via online and social media that victims need to look out for:
1) Online harassment is the repeated email or online message communications that are offensive, rude and insulting.
2) Distributing information about you that is derogatory and untrue through posting it on a web page, sending it to others through email or instant messaging, posting or sending digitally altered photos of you.
3) Internet flaming or the online fighting via electronic messages that are angry and vulgar.
4) Hacking into email or social media page belonging to you and your abuser pretending to be you and then sending vicious or embarrassing information to others.
5) Your abuser may share your secrets or embarrassing information, or trick you into revealing secrets or embarrassing information and forwarding it to others.
6) Cyber stalking where your abuser is repeatedly sending messages that include threats of harm or are highly intimidating. Your abuser may also engage in online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety.
The National Center for Victims of Crime came up with a compilation of information from state agencies for their safety plans provided this list to the National Domestic Partner Hotline. In the Safety Plan Guidelines it talks about the steps to take living with an abuser, when you are ready to leave general guidelines for leaving, and what to do after leaving an abusive relationship.
If you need assistance, please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or via their website at hotline.org.
Safe Haven of Tarrant County operates two emergency shelters in Forth Worth and Arlington, TX for survivors of domestic violence. Both shelters have a combined 174-bed capacity and offer: safety planning, living quarters, meals, clothing, transportation and medical/dental care referrals. In addition to protecting victims and creating multiple opportunities to achieve independence and self-sufficiency, SafeHaven of Tarrant County focuses on prevention by educating members of the community and engaging leaders to speak out.
Genesis Women’s Shelter is a safe place for victims of domestic abuse and family violence in Dallas, TX. They provide a safe place for victims and are committed to preventing violence by raising the level of community awareness regarding the pervasiveness and effects of domestic violence. The Genesis hotline is 24 hours and they can be reached at: 214-946-HELP (4357). For more information, please visit: genesisshelter.org.