Q: I'm afraid! What do I do?
A: It is very common for victims of crime to be anxious about the criminal justice process. It may be helpful to talk with your Victim Advocate about your specific concerns. Your advocate can help advise you. Threats should be reported right away because it may be appropriate to file additional charges and to take additional safety planning steps. There is also helpful resource information that may ease some fear.
Q: In child abuse cases, do the children have to testify in court?
A: Every case is different, and in some cases children do testify. If a child does have to testify, he or she will have the opportunity to prepare for the experience with the guidance of the prosecutor, victim advocate and others. The preparation may include "court school" which is an opportunity for children to see a courtroom and learn about the process before trial.
Q: Couldn't some of the abuse be my fault?
A: No -- abusive people have control over their behavior. Their use of violent or threatening behavior is a choice and not the result of something you do or don't do. People who are abusive tend to see violence as an acceptable way to solve problems and control others.
Q: Since my partner never actually touched me it isn't really domestic violence is it?
A: Domestic violence includes threatened physical harm, stalking, intimidation, emotional abuse such as name calling and put-downs, forced isolation and any other crime including property crimes when the offender is acting coerce, control, punish, intimidate or seek revenge.
Q: Shouldn't I give it one more try?
Abusive behavior is often a long-standing pattern. Even if an abusive person expresses remorse and a desire to change, the batterer is likely to revert to former patterns without specialized counseling and monitoring. Court-ordered intervention can be a way to make sure the new tools and the support system is in place to effect real change.
Q: The fighting only happens when he's drinking and since he is going to stop drinking the domestic violence will end won't it?
A: Some batterers do have a substance abuse problem, but treating the substance abuse doesn't mean the domestic violence will end. It simply means there is an addiction problem AND a domestic violence problem.
Q: My children never see the fights but should I be worried about them?
A: Studies have shown that children are more aware of domestic violence and abuse than parents think. Even if they don't directly witness the abuse they often hear the arguments, threats and violence. Children are often fearful, anxious or even confused even if they don't express these feelings directly. They are also learning about how adults deal with problems and anger by watching you.
Q: What should I worry about if I decide to try to leave?
A: Making the decision to leave is a big step and statistics show it can be the most dangerous time. If a batterer senses a loss of control over you or the relationship it can prompt the batterer to escalate the abuse. This shouldn't discourage a decision to leave, but it emphasizes the need for developing a safety plan, talking about your plan with friends or co-workers, identifying resources and support systems, and focusing on staying safe.