Breaking the Cycle: We Can Help You Escape Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a pervasive issue that affects millions of people worldwide. In the US alone, on average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner. In California, Domestic violence makes up 20% of violent crimes. It can be difficult to know what to do if you, or someone you love is experiencing abuse at the hands of a partner. Breaking the cycle of domestic violence is a complex process that requires sensitivity, patience, support, and resources.
YWCA Monterey County provides assistance to those in our community who are being abused and we provide practical steps to escape domestic violence and rebuild your life on solid ground. From recognizing the signs of abuse to accessing resources and creating a safety plan, we provide support and guidance to help you.
Need help now? 24/7 Local Crisis Line: +1-831-757-1001
Understanding Domestic Violence and Cycle of Abuse
Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used by one person to control and dominate another person in a relationship. It can take many forms, including physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, psychological, and financial abuse. It is not gender specific, it can happen to anyone. Domestic violence is not a one-time violent event but a pattern of behavior that escalates over time. It can start with small acts of control, such as monitoring phone calls or isolating from friends and family. Over time, it can escalate to physical violence, sexual assault, and even homicide. Domestic violence is a crime and perpetrators can face legal consequences.
The cycle of domestic violence is a repetitive pattern of behavior that often occurs in abusive relationships. It consists of three phases: the tension-building phase, the acute violent phase, and the honeymoon phase.
In the tension-building phase, the abuser becomes increasingly irritable and critical, and the victim may feel like they are walking on eggshells. In the acute violent phase, the abuser becomes physically or verbally violent, and the victim may fear for their safety. In the honeymoon phase, the abuser may apologize and promise to change, and the victim may feel hopeful that things will improve and in some cases seems better than ever.
However, the honeymoon phase is usually short-lived, and the cycle of violence often repeats itself. It is essential to recognize this cycle and understand that the victim may feel trapped and unable to leave the relationship.
Recognizing the Signs of Domestic Violence
Recognizing the signs of domestic violence can be challenging, as many victims are afraid to speak up or may not realize they are being abused. However, there are some common warning signs including:
- Frequent injuries, such as bruises, cuts, or broken bones
- Changes in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn, anxious, or depressed
- Isolation from friends and family
- Controlling behavior, such as monitoring phone calls or social media accounts
- Verbal abuse, such as name-calling or put-downs
- Sexual coercion or assault
- Financial abuse, such as controlling access to money or refusing to let them work
We understand that those experiencing domestic violence must be approached with sensitivity and care. We avoid blaming or shaming, as this may make you feel more isolated and vulnerable. Our approach is trauma-informed care.
Why Victims Stay in Abusive Relationships
Many people wonder why victims of domestic violence stay in abusive relationships. There are many reasons, and it is essential to understand that leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as just walking away. Some common reasons why victims stay include:
- Fear for their safety or the safety of their children
- Fear of becoming homeless
- Financial dependence on the abuser
- Believing that the abuse is their fault or that they deserve it
- Lack of social support or access to resources
- Hope that the abuser will change
- Fear of being alone or not being able to find another partner
We offer support and understanding, help you access resources and create a safety plan. Leaving an abusive relationship is a difficult and often dangerous process. It is up to you to decide when and how to leave, and we can help you through the process.
Developing a Plan for Safety
Creating a safety plan is an essential step to escape domestic violence. Reaching out is the first step and YWCA-MC will help tailor a personalized plan that outlines steps you can take to stay safe and protect yourself and your children from harm.
Here is an example:
- Identify safe places to go in an emergency, such as a friend’s house or reach out to us at our 24/7 crisis line to access our confidentially located shelter
- Keep important documents, such as identification and legal papers, in a safe place. A place your abuser cannot find
- Start the process by saving cash in a secret place. One way many have started this process is by using cash for household purposes and keeping the change in their stash spot.
- Develop a code word or signal to communicate when you need help
- Be aware of your surroundings by taking note of the fastest way to escape with your keys
- Create a go-bag with essential items, such as keys, clothes, cash, documents, and medication, in case you need to leave quickly
It is in your best interest to obtain an order of protection from law enforcement. Having the courts on your side will help you get emergency custody of your children or even your pets in some cases. Visit our Legal Resource page for information outlining where to go to obtain a restraining order.
Monterey County Police Departments are available and ready to help. If it is an emergency please call 911 to get immediate help. To reach our crisis line call: +1-831-757-1001
Supporting You Through the Healing Process
Recovering from domestic violence is a long and difficult process that requires support and compassion. Here are some ways we support you through the healing process:
- We listen without judgment and believe every aspect of your situation
- We provide safe shelter located in a confidential location. We understand that there are preconceived notions of what a shelter may look like, but you may be surprised to find many wonderful people who are kind and helpful, people who will help you and your family heal through a shared understanding of your family’s situation. A place where you feel safe, you have plenty of food and hygiene items, and where your children are safe, have toys, and are well-fed. A place where you can think, breathe, recover and regroup. Where you can talk to those trained to help you access resources to put yourself and your family on a path to success.
- We offer emotional support through our mental health services utilizing a trauma-informed approach. Our therapists are licensed to provide therapy sessions.
- We help you access resources, such as housing service programs, financial classes, immigration petition services, and many more resources that apply to your unique situation
- We encourage self-care and will help you find ways to make self-care a reality
It is essential to remember that healing takes time and that every survivor’s journey is unique. Reaching out is the first step and we are here to help. Our crisis line is 24/7 every day of the year. Even if you just need someone to listen to your unique situation, you will reach a trained Domestic Violence Advocate.
24/7 Local Crisis Line: +1-831-757-1001
How to Be an Ally in the Fight Against Domestic Violence
Domestic violence is a societal issue that requires a collective effort to address. Here are some ways you can be an ally in the fight against domestic violence:
- Educate yourself and others about domestic violence and its impact
- Speak out against domestic violence and promote healthy relationships
- Support YWCA through a tax-deductible donation. Your donation will go directly to supporting those struggling with abuse in Monterey County.
- Become a Domestic Violence Advocate by taking one of our training courses
- Advocate for policies and laws that protect victims of domestic violence
- Like and Follow YWCA-MC socials to attend our events honoring victims of Domestic Violence
It is essential to remember that domestic violence is preventable, and we all have a role to play. Let’s work together to break the cycle of domestic violence and create a safer, more compassionate Monterey County.