I. Types of Domestic Violence & Signs to Watch For
The first step in preventing domestic violence against women is to recognize what constitutes abuse. A spouse, partner, or other person doesn’t have to strike a woman to commit domestic violence against her. Knowing that there are many different types of domestic violence and abuse is important. It helps dispel the notion that domestic violence only involves hitting and striking, allowing everybody to recognize the signs of abusive behavior better. Whether you believe you might be in an abusive relationship, believe a friend or family member may be in an abusive relationship, or are unsure of whether your behavior constitutes abuse, review these types of domestic violence and watch for signs of abuse.
a. Physical violence
Physical violence includes everything from grabbing and biting to punching and shooting. It can also include kicking, stabbing, shoving, or otherwise inflicting physical harm on another person. And the abuse doesn’t have to leave a mark to “count” as domestic violence. Physical abuse also includes preventing access to needed medications or medical care. Forcing a woman to consume alcohol or other mind-altering substances also constitutes physical abuse. The following are some clear signs of physical violence:
- fear of a spouse or partner,
- constant or unexplained bruises, cuts, and scrapes, and
- use of makeup or clothing to cover signs of abuse.
b. Emotional and psychological abuse
Isolation is a common type of emotional abuse inflicted upon women. While forced confinement or imprisonment certainly constitutes abuse, the isolation does not have to be as overt. An abuser might prevent the victim from using the phone or spending time with friends or family (or may insist on being present when she does so). He or she might constantly call to ask about her whereabouts or who she is with. The abuser might hassle or bother others with whom she spends time too. Threatening the well-being of the victim, children, other family members, pets, or even oneself is also emotional abuse. Some abusers blackmail their victims or intimidate them. Emotional abuse may also take the form of destroying the victim’s property, calling her names, or making her feel guilty for imagined or minor mistakes or affronts. Below are some behaviors that may be indicative of emotional abuse:
- Her partner is constantly calling her stupid or crazy, even if making it seem like a joke.
- She doesn’t ever spend time with her friends or family.
- Her partner accompanies her everywhere she goes.
- She has to check-in constantly.
- Her personality seems to change after entering the relationship.
- She seems depressed or anxious.
c. Sexual violence and marital rape
The existence of a romantic relationship – or history of consensual sexual activity with the victim – does not grant any person the right to engage in sexual activity with the victim against her will. Marriage also does not grant this right. Like other forms of sexual abuse, sexual abuse of an intimate partner can include unwanted touching, molestation, or oral, vaginal, or anal penetration. Forcing the victim to have sex with others (for money or not) also constitutes sexual abuse of a domestic partner. Listed below are some signs of sexual violence that friends, family, and the community might recognize.
- She is uncomfortable with her partner’s touching or use of sexual language towards her.
- Her partner molests her as she is drunk or otherwise incapacitated.
- Her partner pressures her to consume alcohol or take drugs.
d. Financial or economic abuse
Some abusers prevent their victims from accessing the couple’s or their individual bank accounts or other finances. They might intercept checks received through the mail or withhold or control credit cards, debit cards, cash, checkbooks, and other forms of completing a financial transaction. Similar to isolation, some abusers attempt to prevent their partner or spouse from working. They might sabotage an existing job or might forbid or otherwise prevent their partner from gaining new employment. Prohibiting the victim from attending school or gaining needed credentials is also a form of financial or economic abuse. Forcing the victim to engage in some form of financial fraud (Social Security, welfare, or other fraud) is abuse too. Some abusers also sabotage the victim’s personal finances by running up large credit card debt or otherwise making her responsible for large expenditures. The following actions and restrictions may indicate financial abuse:
- She has to ask her partner for money and does not have access to it herself.
- Her partner shows up at her place of employment and creates disruptions or calls constantly.
- Her partner doesn’t let her work or go to school.
II. Strategies & Tips to Prevent Domestic Violence
This advice is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and refers to primary prevention. That is, stopping domestic violence before it happens. Secondary prevention, meanwhile, aims to intervene (ideally at an early stage) to stop violence or abuse that has occurred. This includes identifying individuals who may demonstrate behaviors associated with domestic violence and intervening to mitigate risk. Finally, tertiary prevention includes providing ongoing treatment and therapy for women who are victims of abuse, as well as providing rehabilitative therapy to perpetrators to prevent future incidents of abuse.
Primary Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women
Primary prevention mainly focuses on the community. It includes campaigns to change manners of thinking about domestic violence and attitudes towards women and relationships. Starting a dialogue about domestic violence to influence community attitudes that domestic violence is always unacceptable is a strategy employed by organizations like NO MORE, the Domestic Violence Awareness Project, and others. Campaigns might also focus on raising children to possess healthy communication and relationship skills.
What you can do to help:
- Learn more – Educate yourself about domestic violence and its effects on victims and the community. This can make you a more informed resource if somebody, like your children, asks you a question about domestic violence.
- Talk to your kids – Be a good role model and promote healthy communication and relationship skills. Talk to them about respect and what is and what is not a healthy relationship.
Secondary Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women
A secondary prevention strategy aims to identify victims of abuse to provide them the help that they need. This includes removing them from the environment and providing any immediate care and assistance that they need. Secondary prevention campaigns may promote awareness of domestic violence, educate about the signs of abuse, and provide help to victims. Campaigns like NO MORE and the Domestic Violence Awareness Project promote awareness of domestic violence and may educate the public about signs of abuse. There are also several outreach programs and other resources for women who are victims of domestic violence (see Section III. Resources for Domestic Violence Victims). A secondary prevention strategy may also identify individuals who exhibit signs of behavior associated with domestic violence or exposed to violence. These individuals may be at greater risk of perpetrating domestic violence. For example, some research suggests that children exposed to domestic violence may have behavioral or aggression problems. A study published in 2003 in Child Abuse & Neglect found that children who witnessed violence against their mother by an intimate partner were more likely to score poorly on externalizing behavior like aggression and total behavioral problems. Secondary prevention interventions may focus on talking with children who witnessed abuse to reinforce that such behavior is not right. Secondary prevention may help such children develop healthy coping and relationship skills.
What you can do to help:
- Familiarize yourself with the signs of domestic violence (see Section I. Types of Domestic Violence and Signs to Watch For).
- Be supportive – Listen and give your support to a friend or family member who reaches out to you.
- Offer resources – Remind the victim that she has resources available to her (see Section III. Resources for Domestic Violence Victims).
- Call one of the many available domestic violence help lines if you know someone in need of help (see Section III. Resources for Domestic Violence Victims).
Tertiary Prevention of Domestic Violence against Women
Tertiary prevention focuses on rehabilitation. Many services in Washington provide shelter and other resources to women who are victims of domestic violence. These services aim to help women escape dangerous environments and relationships by breaking down barriers that may prevent some women from leaving their partner. A much more extensive discussion of resources available to victims of domestic violence can be found in Section III. Resources for Domestic Violence Victims.
What you can do to help:
- Continue to provide support – Provide emotional support and any other support you can as your friend or family member seeks help and rehabilitation.
- Volunteer – Many organizations are always seeking volunteers to help deliver much-needed services to victims of domestic violence. Contact an organization or shelter in your area to inquire about the specific types of help they need.
III. Resources for Domestic Violence Victims
Domestic violence resources include helplines that connect victims to resources in their area as well as organizations that provide services that help victims leave a dangerous situation, get the immediate help they need, and start rebuilding their life.
Domestic Violence Help Lines in Pierce County
Always dial 9-1-1 if you are in an emergency situation. Otherwise, you may dial one of the various helplines available to victims of domestic violence or those wishing to find help for someone they know or suspect is the victim of domestic violence. Each helpline provides some degree of support and can connect victims with resources in their area that can help them. Below are some of the helplines that are available to victims in Tacoma or elsewhere in Pierce County.
- Washington State Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-562-6025 (8 a.m. to 5 p.m., every day);
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 (24 hours, every day);
- Family Renewal Shelter: 253-475-9010 or toll-free 1-888-550-3915 (24 hours, every day);
- Crystal Judson Family Justice Center: 253-798-4166 (Helpline);
- YWCA of Pierce County: 253-383-2593 (24 hours, every day);
- Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County: 1-800-756-7273 or local 253-474-7273 (24 hours, every day); and
- Pierce County Sheriff’s Department Domestic Violence Unit: 253-798-6516.
Housing and Other Transitional Help for Victims of Domestic Violence
Some facilities and organizations provide assistance to victims looking to escape an abusive relationship. They can provide transitional housing, transportation, and other services that victims need to escape the dangerous situation and start rebuilding. Below are some resources that provide these services in Pierce County.
- YWCA of Pierce County: The facility includes a domestic violence shelter that offers safe and confidential temporary housing to victims and their children. Victims can stay for up to 90 days. They also offer legal services, including help with protection orders. Call their 24-hour crisis line at 253-383-2593 or call their legal service line at 253-365-6352. Their hours are Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Crystal Judson Family Justice Center: The center partners with community and government organizations to provide services such as legal support, counseling and support groups, housing, transportation, protection orders, and more. Call their helpline at 253-798-4166 or their offices at 253-798-4310. They are open Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
- Family Renewal Shelter: The shelter offers case management and legal referrals to help with legal issues, housing, educational and employment searches, relocation, and even identity changes. They even provide transportation assistance and have an on-site animal kennel for families with pets. There is even a car donation program for victims without transportation. You can call the 24-hour crisis line at 253-475-9010.
- Sexual Assault Center of Pierce County: The center offers emotional support, medical advocacy, and legal advocacy to victims of sexual assault, including those assaulted by an intimate partner. Call their 24-hour crisis line at 1-800-756-7273 or local 253-474-7273. Their offices are open Monday through Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Friday by appointment only. These are just a few of the resources available in Pierce County and throughout Washington. The Pierce County Library System website offers a more comprehensive list of shelter and transitional housing services.
IV. Rehabilitation for Perpetrators of Domestic Violence
Another aspect of preventing domestic violence against women is rehabilitating perpetrators of violence to prevent future incidents. Perpetrators may enter these programs for a number of reasons. Some are mandated to attend by the court, such as if convicted of or pleading guilty to a domestic violence-related crime. Some family law orders require perpetrators attend these programs. Others choose to attend on their own accord. The programs address a number of topics like perpetrators’ belief systems that support domestic violence against women or “use or threat of violence to establish power and control over an intimate partner,” per WAC 388-60-0245. They also review definitions of abuse, the different types of abuse, the impact of the abuse of children, and much more. Contact the program directly for specific questions about its policies and curriculum. Washington State provides guidelines regarding the administration of these programs in Chapter 388-60 of the Washington Administrative Code. It stipulates policies and procedures of these programs, confidentiality requirements, staff qualifications, the certification process, and more. All programs that provide these services must be certified by the Washington State Department of Social & Health Services. There are a number of domestic violence perpetrator treatment (DVPT) programs certified as of March 2015 in Pierce County.
- Assessment and Treatment Associates: 2716 South C Street, Tacoma, WA 98402 (253-205-8200);
- Asian American Chemical Dependency Treatment: 8811 S. Tacoma Way, Suite 106, Tacoma, WA 98499 (253-302-3826);
- All For You Counseling: 1321 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Suite 201, Tacoma, WA 98405 (253-474-0633);
- Puyallup Tribal DV Treatment Program: 3009 E. Portland Ave., Tacoma, WA 98404 (253-680-5499);
- Defiance Counseling: PO Box 7569, Tacoma, WA 98417 (253-531-4985);
- Social Treatment Opportunity Programs: 4301 S. Pine Street, #112, Tacoma, WA 98411 (253-471-0890);
- Casteele, Williams & Associates: 8833 Pacific Avenue, Suite D, Tacoma, WA 98444 (253-536-2881); and
- La Nueva Comunidad: 4321 Tacoma Ave. S., Tacoma, WA 98418 (253-476-9705.
- Shepard & Associates: 10828 Gravelly Lake Drive SW, Suite 107, Lakewood, WA 98499 (253-984-9342); and
- Bill Notarfrancisco Counseling: 6212 75th Street West, Lakewood, WA 98499 (253-983-9668).
- Social Treatment Opportunity Programs: 13921 E. Meridian, Suite 101, Puyallup, WA 98373 (253-770-4720).
- Advantages Plus Counseling: 6824 19th Street W., PMB 253, University Place, WA 98466 (253-565-1019);
- A New Sunrise Counseling: 7406 27th Street West, #210, University Place, WA 98464 (253-584-3447); and
- Trukositz, Mary and Associates: 6824 19th Street W., PMB 268, University Place, WA 98466 (253-778-0236).
For a complete list of DVPT programs in the state of Washington, and for information about certification of each program, visit the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services website.