Q. What is domestic violence?
A. Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that escalates in severity and danger over time. Domestic violence can include physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.
Q. What are the warning signs?
A. Ask yourself the following questions about the person with whom you have a relationship. Does he or she:
• Embarrass me with bad names or put down?
• Not want me to talk to or spend time with my family and friends?
• Take my money?
• Make me ask for money or refuse to give it to me?
• Tell me that I am a bad parent or threaten to take away my children?
• Act extremely jealous of others?
• Lose his/her temper, strike me, break my possessions, or in other ways cause me harm?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, you may need to talk to people who are experts in relationship violence. Call the Family Justice Centr at 318.998.6030 or 1.888.411.1333 anytime day or night!
Q. What can I do to protect myself?
A. It can be hard to know if your relationship is headed down the wrong path. While it’s not always possible to prevent domestic violence, there are steps you can take to try to protect yourself.
If you think your partner might be controlling or abusive, you can:
- Trust your feelings. If something doesn’t seem right, take it seriously.
- Find out about the warning signs of someone who might become controlling or violent. Some of the examples of domestic abuse include:
- Making threats to hurt a spouse or partner, children, other family members or pets;
- Preventing a spouse or partner from getting a job or having access to money;
- Controlling who a spouse or partner sees, talks to, or visits;
- Threatening with looks, weapons, gestures;
- Making a spouse or partner feel guilty about the children or theaten to take them away; and
- Making a spouse or partner do sexual things against his/her will.
Remember, controlling or violent relationships usually get worse over time. If your partner might be controlling or abusive, it’s better to get help now than to wait.
Q. How can I help someone who is a victim of domestic violence?
A. 1. Call the police if you see or hear violence in progress.
2. Learn about domestic violence services in your community like those provided by the Family Justice Center and The Wellspring (info at wellspringalliance.org).
3. Give time, resources or money. Distribute domestic violence awareness materials at your workplace, school or church. Arrange for informational and educational presentations or training for your church, civic, social and professional groups.
4. If you have a friend or co-worker who is afraid of his or her partner or who is being hurt, offer your support and refer them to The Family Justice Center at (318) 998-6030.
5. Model a respectful attitude toward your spouse in your home, with your family, and in your workplace. Avoid behaviors that demean or control others.
6. Build support among your colleagues and neighbors that abusive behavior and language is not tolerated in your neighborhood.
Q. Why doesn’t the victim leave the batterer?
A. What many don’t realize is that the victim - or survivor, as we prefer to call them - is subjected to constant emotional and financial abuse and isolation that gradually chip away at his/her self esteem, resources and ability to bounce back from constant assaults, stress and fear. What’s more, survivors are often encouraged by family, friends and others in the community to “go back and try to make the marriage/relationship work,” “try harder not to make the batterer mad,” and just accept that type of behavior as a normal part of marriage.” What all of these responses miss is that domestic violence is NEVER acceptable behavior.
When domestic violence is present and the survivor has left the violent home, he or she and the children may be in immediate need of intervention by trained professionals. There is NOTHING the survivor can do or not do to change the batterer’s behavior. Domestic violence is not caused by the survivor’s behavior, but rather by the batterer’s power and control issues. And domestic violence is NEVER a normal part of a relationship. Abuse is not love.
There are many other barriers that may initially prevent domestic violence survivors from leaving an abusive situation. Some of the barriers are:
• Fear of death
• Fear of harm to or losing custody of children
• Economic issues
• Past injuries or threats when trying to leave
• Psychological manipulation by batterer
• Institutional responses that may encourage the survivor to remain with the abusive partner
• Values and beliefs
• Any number of other special circumstances can affect a victim’s willingness to leave, including the fear of not being believed.
Instead of asking the question “why doesn’t she leave,” a better question to ask is “why should a victim be expected to leave his/her home to escape attacks by a batterer.”
Q. What is Sexual Assault?
A. Sexual assault is defined as any type of sexual conduct or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This includes sexual touching and fondling.
Q. What services are available for a person who has been sexually assaulted?
• Assistance filing law enforcement reports
• Assistance obtaining protective orders
• Consultation with District Attorney’s office
• Phone hotline intervention — anytime day or night, 365 days a year at 318.323.1505
• Domestic violence or sexual assault counseling
• Legal counsel referral to North LA Legal Assistance
• Medical follow-up (by appointment)
• Referral to safe, confidential emergency housing
• Safety planning
• Translation services (by appointment)
• Domestic violence and/or sexual assault education
Q. How can a bystander help a victim of sexual assault?
A. • They can diffuse a potentially risky situation by distracting the couple or taking one person aside.
• They should tell the person whose behavior concerns them that they don’t like what he/she is doing.
• They can talk to the victim. Letting the victim know they saw what happened and that they’re willing to help can be extremely helpful.
• It’s okay for the bystander to interrupt if they see or hear something that concerns them. It is better to interrupt a scene that stand around while an assault takes place.
This is a frightening and confusing time for the person being victimized, so it is important to be supportive and non-judgmental. Supporting the victim can help them heal, while displays of anger or threats against the perpetrator are not helpful.
Q. Does Sexual Assault affect men?
A. The myth is that sexual assault only affects women. However, sexual assault affects everyone, with men being less than five percent of those affected.
Q. What do I do if I have been assaulted or I have a friend that has been assaulted?
A. • Victims are encouraged to seek medical attention as soon as possible after a sexual assault. Physical injuries are not always noticeable at first. The victim could have internal injuries or be in shock, which would prevent them from fully realizing the extent of any injuries. Immediate medical attention also provides the victim with more options to prevent the risk of sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
• Adult and adolescent victims have up to 120 hours after a sexual assault to have evidence collected. Pediatric victims can have evidence collected up to 72 hours after an assault. Due to the time sensitive nature of evidence, all victims are encouraged to visit any Emergency Room as soon as possible after a sexual assault.
• Victims can go to any of the local emergency department to report a sexual assault. They can also contact 911 or the NELA Rape Crisis line at 318.323.1505.
• Victims are encouraged not to change clothes after an assault, shower, brush their teeth, eat, drink, smoke, urinate or defecate until they have been seen by a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE). If clothing was changed, victims are advised to place their original clothing in a paper bag and bring it in with them to the Emergency Room.
• A SANE nurse or ER staff should be told if the victim woke up with memory loss, felt they got more intoxicated than usual with less alcohol, or had clothing missing or on incorrectly (shirt buttoned up wrong, zippers undone, etc.), because additional testing could be required.
Q. What is teen dating violence?
A. Each year, approximately one in four teens reports being the victim of dating violence which can include physical abuse, stalking, emotional abuse, or sexual violence, according to the U.S. Dept. of Justice. Dating violence crosses all social, economic and racial lines. Both young women and young men can be victims or perpetrators of dating violence.
Q. What can I do to protect myself?
A. Learn to identify signs that a partner could become abusive. Some signs include:
- Extreme jealousy
- Controlling behavior
- Mood swings
- Using force while arguing
- Explosive anger
- Cruelty to animals or kids
- Violent threats
- Abused former partners
- Alcohol and drug use
Q. How can I help someone who is a victim of dating violence?
A. 1) Become knowledgeable about dating violence 2) Offer a sympathetic ear, letting the victim know you care 3) Offer the victim a ride to the FJC when needed 4) Help them develop a safety plan by creating a list of emergency numbers, contacts and personal information and 5) Become a FJC volunteer.
Common clues that a teen may be a victim of dating violence include physical injuries, failing grades, emotional outbursts, alcohol and drug use, mood swings, depression, isolation from friends and fear of partner.
Q. What is stalking?
A. Stalking is a crime. It is a series of actions that make you feel afraid or in danger. Stalking is serious, often violent, and can escalate over time. Some things stalkers do include:
- Repeatedly call you, including hang ups.
- Follow you and show up wherever you are.
- Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards or emails.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
- Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
- Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
- Drive by or hang out at your home, school or work.
- Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends or pets.
- Find out about you by using public records or on-line search serves, hiring investigators, going through your garbage or contacting friends, family, neighbors or co-workers.
- Other actions that control, track or frighten you.
Q. What can I do to protect myself?
A. Stalking is unpredictable and dangerous. No two stalking situations are alike. There are no guarantees that what works for one person will work for another, yet you can take steps to increase your safety.
- If you are in danger, call 911.
- Trust your instincts, don't downplay the danger. If you feel you are unsafe, you probably are.
- Take threats seriously. Danger generally is higher when the stalker talks about suicide or murder, or when a victim tries to leave or end the relationship.
- Contact a crisis hotline. They can help you devise a safety plan, give you information about local laws, refer you to other services and weigh options such as seeking a protection order.
- Develop a safety plan, including things like changing your routine, arranging a place to stay, and having a friend or relative go places with you. Also, decide in advance what to do if the stalker shows up at your home, work, school or somewhere else. Tell people how they can help you.
Q. How can I help someone who is a victim of stalking?
A. 1) Become knowledgeable about stalking 2) Offer a sympathetic ear, letting the victim know you care 3) Offer the victim a ride to the FJC when needed 4) Help them develop a safety plan by creating a list of emergency numbers, contacts and personal information 5) Become a FJC volunteer.
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