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Domestic Violence Quick Guide

The Domestic Violence Quick Guide is for individual and/or families who may be currently struggling with the effects, or are dealing with the aftermath of an abusive relationship. This can include not only intimate partner violence but also family violence. Victims of domestic violence often struggle to leave the abuser and may fear for the safety of themselves and/or their family. Domestic violence can include both females and males and does not always take the form of physical violence but more of a cycle of power and control.  Domestic violence is not just limited to families but also that of dating violence and extends to teenagers as well as adults. If client is struggling to understand the types of Domestic Violence, or wants to assess whether they are in an abusive relationship consider looking at the Types of Domestic Violence  document.

The primary goal of the Domestic Violence Quick Guide is to help a domestic violence victim find safety. The best way of working towards the goal of safety is through creating a safety plan. A safety plan is just as it sounds, a plan laid out for if/when the victim is ready to leave. For more information see the safety-planning.
To reach long-term safety it is important to file a protection order, or other legal protection that will increase the safety of the victim and his/her children.  For more information on legal protection rights for domestic violence victims, see the Domestic Violence Legal Help, also available in Spanish.


  • Domestic violence is often seen as a problem affecting only women however, over 850,000 men report cases of domestic violence each year. Domestic violence towards men is considered to be very similar to domestic violence towards women, in that it is also rooted in power and control and that it takes the same forms.  There is a domestic abuse hotline in place that assists men who are involved in relationship violence. This number is 1-877-HELPLINE
  • Domestic violence is further complicated when children are involved. It may be hard with the victim to talk with their children about the abuse. However, not talking about the issue can lead to further confusion and fear in children. (For more information, see the Impact on Children )
  • Domestic violence and drug abuse can often have a compounding effect.  To that end, drug abuse can further complicate issues of domestic violence such as dealing with arrests, violence occurring more frequently with drug use, and the victim forgetting a safety plan while using.


Although abusers do not usually show their true colors in the beginning of a relationship, there are often red flags that are apparent very early on in an abusive relationship. Abusers tend to have some common personality traits (for more information, see the early warning signs for domestic violence)

One way to highlight Domestic Violence is to compare what healthy relationships look like compared to abusive relationships. Once a victim has been in an abusive relationship for a while, they may begin to “normalize” the abuser’s behavior.  Healthy relationships generally share some common characteristics such as commitment, supportive behavior, trust, respect, and many others. Generally these characteristics are not present in abusive relationships (for more information, see document on healthy relationships)

Often times Domestic Violence exists in cycles that make it challenging for the victim to leave. For more information see the Cycle of Domestic Violence document.

Domestic Violence among service members with PTSD can be 2 to 3 times higher than in service members without PTSD. Additionally, since PTSD affects 22-30% of Service Members this is a growing concern among Military families.  For referrals and counseling for active duty military families facing domestic violence, and other issues, call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647)

Domestic violence victims are not alone. Feelings of isolation can often accompany victims of domestic violence, fortunately there is help. There are resources out in the community that can help victims of domestic violence receive the help they need to reach the goal of safety for themselves and their children.

For more information on Community Resources, see the Domestic Violence Resource Tool

Am I Abused: Understanding Domestic Violence
Am I Abused: Spanish-¿Abusan de Mí?
Children and DV: A workbook