home finding help about us work of the coalition news and events contact us F.A.Q.'s
Overview
overview

Frequently Asked Questions about Domestic Violence

(Please note: 95% of domestic violence is male to female. For this reason, we refer to “she” as the victim and “he” as the abuser.)

Isn't domestic violence a less serious problem – less lethal – than "real" violence, like street crime?

Doesn't most domestic violence occur in poor or racial minority communities?

If a couple has domestic violence issues, don't they just have a bad relationship? Maybe poor marital communication is the problem.

Isn't domestic violence caused by alcohol or drug abuse?


Isn't domestic violence often triggered by stress, such as the loss of a job or some financial problem?

Who are victims of domestic violence?


Is domestic violence always male against female? Or, can abuse happen in other ways?


Aren't there a lot of cases of "husband battering?" Aren't women equally violent? Does family violence occur in same-sex relationships?

How do you know if someone is being abused?

What should someone do if they suspect someone is being abused?

If someone is a victim of domestic violence, why don't they just leave and get out of such a dangerous relationship?

Why doesn't she leave or ask for help?

What if a victim wants to leave, but has no access to any money because the abuser controls the finances?


Won't children in abusive homes be okay as long as the violence isn't directed at them?

What happens when children from abusive homes grow up?

Why should public resources be used on this private problem?

Why do so many people refuse to admit that they, their friends, their relatives, or their co-workers and neighbors live in an environment where domestic violence exists?

What can I do to help?

How can I help anonymously?


If I help a victim, isn’t there a chance I could get hurt?

Does the Coalition fund domestic violence programs?


Does the Coalition offer help to victims?

How can I volunteer with the Coalition?


How can I donate to the Coalition?




Isn't domestic violence a less serious problem – less lethal – than "real" violence, like street crime?

Domestic violence is real violence, often resulting in death or permanent injuries and making home one of the least safe places for victims to be. It accounts for more injuries to women than rapes, muggings, and automobile accidents combined. Unlike crimes by strangers, domestic violence is likely to be repeated and often involves an abuser who will go to great lengths to impede the victim's escape.

Domestic violence is a crime that uses violence as a tool to intimidate and control the behaviors of another person. Domestic violence has been the primary factor in almost one quarter of all homicides committed in Franklin County since 1990.

Back to Top

Doesn't most domestic violence occur in poor or racial minority communities?

Abusers and victims come from all races, socioeconomic classes, ages, religious affiliations, sexual orientations, occupations, and backgrounds.

Economic and social factors, however, influence the kind of help people seek. Affluent people can usually afford private help – doctors, lawyers, therapists, hotels, travel expenses to get away – while people with fewer financial resources tend to call the police or other public agencies. Therefore, people with lower incomes and members of racial minority communities tend to be over-represented in the statistics of public agencies, creating a distorted picture.

Approximately one-third of the men counseled for battering at Emerge, a treatment program in Boston, MA, are professional men who are well respected in their jobs and their communities. These have included doctors, psychologists, lawyers, ministers, and business executives. (Massachusetts Coalition of Battered Women Service Groups.)

Back to Top

If a couple has domestic violence issues, don't they just have a bad relationship? Maybe poor marital communication is the problem.

Bad relationships do not cause domestic violence. Many couples have bad relationships that never become abusive relationships. Violence is a learned behavior, picked up by observing other abusive relationships (such as fathers controlling or abusing mothers) or the images of violence against women in the media.

The misconception about bad relationships is especially dangerous to victims because it encourages them to focus their energy on "improving the relationship" in the false hope that this will stop the violence. It also allows the abusers to blame the violence on the victims rather than acknowledge their own responsibility. The violent partner is the sole source and cause of the violence.

A victim's behavior does not cause domestic violence. Victims are battered whether they are compliant or resist, whether they are quiet or speak up, whether they protect their children by fighting back or giving in, or whether they are awake or sleeping.

Back to Top

Isn't domestic violence caused by alcohol or drug abuse?

Alcohol and drug use do not cause domestic violence, although they are often used as an excuse for domestic violence. We know that many people have substance abuse problems but are not violent. We also know that there are many abusers who do not abuse substances. Episodes of problem drinking and incidents of domestic violence often occur separately. Clearly, substance abuse neither explains nor excuses domestic violence. The person who is abusing drugs or alcohol and who is abusive to his partner has two separate problems. He needs help for both problems, or neither will improve.


Back to Top

Isn't domestic violence often triggered by stress, such as the loss of a job or some financial problem?

Stress does not cause domestic violence. We all experience significant stresses or conflicts at different times in our lives, but most of us do not become violent. When abusers use violence to respond to stress, they do so because they have learned this response and choose to use it. To be rehabilitated, perpetrators must hold themselves accountable for the abusive choices they make.

Back to Top

Who are victims of domestic violence?

Mostly women of all ages, ethnic groups and religions. This crime knows no boundaries and crosses all socioeconomic groups.

Back to Top

Is domestic violence always male against female? Or, can abuse happen in other ways?

Ninety-five percent of domestic violence is male to female, which is why we usually refer to the victim as "she" and the perpetrator as "he." However, domestic violence can occur in other ways and it is specific to people that have a close relationship. It could be a child that is abusing a parent, or a sibling abusing another, live-in partners, or people who are in a dating relationship. The point is that this is an intimate relationship, where the person causing the abuse knows a lot about the victim — where they work, who their friends are, what time to come and go, and so forth.

Back to Top

Aren't there a lot of cases of "husband battering?" Aren't women equally violent? Does family violence occur in same-sex relationships?

Family violence, particularly of the injurious or life-threatening nature, is primarily perpetrated by men toward women. Severe violence in relationships results in victimization of women in 95% of the cases.

Same-sex partners can be victims or perpetrators of family violence. Violence in these relationships may be significantly under-reported to public agencies, because of homophobia and fear of negative reactions to the relationship.

Back to Top

How do you know if someone is being abused?

Some physical signs are obvious, like bruises, broken bones, unusual red marks, or wearing excessive clothing or makeup to hide those marks. Some other, more subtle, signs include suspicious behaviors like needing permission to make plans, not socializing with friends or work associates, and unusual sensitivity about home life.

Back to Top

What should someone do if they suspect someone is being abused?

Knowing what to say can be difficult. But, letting a victim know that someone cares and is willing to offer emotional support is critical. Let that person know they're not alone. Give them the name and number of the local domestic violence hotline and shelter. Or, refer them to an expert or employee assistance program. If you are in a workplace where management is supportive, report the incident. If you witness a crime, call the police. The important thing is to get a professional involved.

Back to Top

If someone is a victim of domestic violence, why don't they just leave and get out of such a dangerous relationship?

Leaving can be difficult and dangerous. Many victims leave an abuser several times before finally breaking off the relationship. Some reasons a victim stays may be fear, responsibility, economics, culture, hope, and even love for the person causing the abuse. For whatever reason, it's a difficult and challenging situation, and is best handled by trained professionals.

One important thing to remember, however, is never tell a victim to "just get out." Leaving a home without making a proper safety plan can put a victim at risk.

Back to Top

Why doesn't she leave or ask for help?

This commonly-asked question implies the victim is responsible for stopping the violence and reflects a lack of understanding about the complex nature of domestic violence. An abused person may have reasons for not leaving the relationship:

The abuser will not allow his victim to leave and often threatens to kill her or her family if she does. (Research tells us that women are more likely to be killed at the time they try to leave.)

She may be embarrassed and ashamed to admit that she is being abused.

The abuser threatens to kidnap the children if she leaves or convinces her she would never get custody if they were to divorce. She may be unable to support herself or her children on her own.

The victim may have been raised in an abusive home and believes a violent marriage is "normal."

The victim may be isolated, in denial, and unaware of the seriousness of her situation. She may not know that there are resources available to help (such as protection orders, safe places for her and her children to stay where the batterer cannot find her, job training, etc.). The response to the victim's initial outreach for help, which is a monumental effort, may not be positive, polite, or respectful. She will feel rejected all over again, and be turned off from seeking help, perhaps forever.

It may be against the victim's religious or other beliefs to end a marriage, and she may not see separation as a viable choice.

An abused person may still feel love and compassion for her partner. She may believe that he will change and that each time will be the last.

Even when a victim asks for help, she often encounters disbelief or outright denial of the situation. She may be blamed for "provoking" the violence herself. Workers in religious, health care, mental health, and legal agencies are often poorly trained, uncomfortable with the issue, or too busy to understand the victim's situation to offer effective help.

Back to Top

What if a victim wants to leave, but has no access to any money because the abuser controls the finances?

In Central Ohio, we have several options for a victim that does not have adequate financial resources. By contacting the Capital University Law Clinic, CHOICES, or Legal Aid, a victim can access many free resources for help with divorce, custody, civil protection (restraining) orders, and more.

Back to Top

Won't children in abusive homes be okay as long as the violence isn't directed at them?

Children do not have to be hit or beaten for domestic violence to cause them damage. Research reveals that children who witness domestic violence are affected in the same way as children who are physically and sexually abused.

They have more trouble sleeping, and they will likely have difficulties with peer relationships and with school. Older boys run a higher risk of stealing, skipping school, acting out in aggressive ways, or getting into fights with siblings. Older girls who have witnessed violence are likely to become withdrawn, passive, clinging, and anxious. Juvenile delinquents are four times more likely to come from homes in which fathers beat their mothers.

Back to Top

What happens when children from abusive homes grow up?

As adults, they have higher rates of suicide, substance abuse, and unemployment compared to adults from non-violent homes. When children from violent homes develop their own intimate adult relationships, they are more likely to beat their partners than are others.

Back to Top

Why should public resources be used on this private problem?


Many forms of domestic violence are a crime. Domestic violence contributes to the systematic destruction of individuals and the family, the foundations of our society. The costs to the community also boil down to dollars: the health care, criminal justice, social service, and lost productivity costs are staggering. Domestic violence costs $3 billion each year in employee absenteeism and sick leave. Families in which domestic violence occurs visit physicians eight times more often than the general population.

Back to Top

Why do so many people refuse to admit that they, their friends, their relatives, or their co-workers and neighbors live in an environment where domestic violence exists?

Nearly everyone involved in or affected by violence in the home – abusers, victims, friends, family members, co-workers, and neighbors – attempts to minimize or deny the seriousness of the situation.

An abuser denies he is violent, or claims his behavior is not serious or is warranted. He does not want to acknowledge the truth of the situation.

He is using threats and force to control someone he loves, and he alone is responsible for his violent behavior and for changing it. The victim may minimize the violence because she does not want to face the fact that the person she loves is hurting her and she is ashamed and embarrassed that she may have caused the violence.

Family, friends, and other people often do not see the abuser's violent side. They may be afraid to get involved or avoid action because they don't know what to do. Some believe the violence is a "private" matter. Many family members and friends try to find excuses for the violence, such as substance abuse or stress. When everyone turns their backs, the level of violence escalates and both the victim and the batterer become less likely to seek help.

Back to Top

What can I do to help?

The best thing that anyone can do for a victim is to be understanding. Tell her that she's not alone and refer her to a domestic violence shelter or crisis hotline. You can also volunteer at a crisis center, or get involved with other local advocacy groups. Suggest putting Resource Display Cards in your church or place of business, ask if your doctor will allow you to place some in his office. Either the lobby or restroom.

Back to Top

How can I help anonymously?


You could donate to United Way through your workplace and select CHOICES, or another abuse-prevention organization in your area.

Back to Top

If I help a victim, isn’t there a chance I could get hurt?

Yes. Often, people want to take in a friend or neighbor, or intervene. The problem in this situation is that perpetrators are often unpredictable. You never really know how much danger you could put yourself in while trying to intervene. If someone is in immediate danger, call 911. If you know of someone who is being abused, refer them to CHOICES or another local resource. Never confront an abuser. You could actually escalate the problem and put yourself and the victim in more danger.

Back to Top

Does the Coalition fund domestic violence programs?

The Coalition funds initiatives created by its task forces which may include programs and services.

Back to Top

Does the Coalition offer help to victims?

No, the Coalition is an advocacy group. We do not offer direct services to individuals. However, we have many resources in Central Ohio that we support and refer individuals to. Please see Finding Help.

Back to Top

How can I volunteer with the Coalition?

Many people volunteer through their employer for our fundraising event, The New Albany Classic. For more information on how to participate, please visit the Classic's official website: www.thenewalbanyclassic.com.

Back to Top

How can I donate to the Coalition?

The Coalition has one fundraising event every year, The New Albany Classic. We ask many Central Ohio businesses and organizations for support by sponsoring this event. All proceeds from this exciting event go directly to the Coalition. You can personally contribute to the Coalition by buying your own ticket and attending The New Albany Classic in September.

Back to Top



      © 2020, The Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence Home | Finding Help | About Us | Work of the Coalition | News + Events | Contact Us | FAQs | Privacy