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About Domestic Violence

What is Domestic Violence?


Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical, emotional, psychological, sexual or financial abuse.


Domestic violence is a pervasive, life-threatening crime that affects millions of individuals across the United States regardless of age, economic status, race, religion or education.


High-profile cases of domestic violence will attract headlines, but thousands of people experience domestic abuse every day.  Victims and perpetrators come from all walks of life.


In the 2013 Domestic Violence Counts 24-hour survey, the National Network to End Domestic Violence found that U.S. domestic violence programs served nearly 65,321 victims and answered more than 23,045 crisis hotline calls in one day alone.  [1]


It’s important for survivors to know that the abuse is not their fault, and they are not alone. Help is available for those who suffer from domestic violence.


What Resources are Available for Victims?

Survivors have many options from obtaining a protection order to staying in a shelter, or exploring options through support group or anonymous calls to a local domestic violence/sexual assault program.  There is hope and you are not alone.


There are thousands of local shelters across the United States that provide safety, counseling, legal help, and other resources for victims and their children. Information and support is available for victims of abuse, their friends, and family.


In Wyoming, each county and the Wind River Indian Reservation has a domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy program that provides free and confidential services.  To locate the program nearest you, see pages 124-125 in this book.


In addition to Wyoming advocacy programs, national hotlines are available and provide confidential and anonymous support.

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline @ 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 (

  • National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline—Love Is Respect provides teens and young adults with confidential and anonymous support by phone @ 1-866-331-9474 or online real-time chat (

  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) Hotline @ 1-800-656-4672 or online real-time chat (


Before using online resources, know that your computer or phone may not be safe. Some abusers misuse technology to stalk and track all of a partner’s activities. For more information about your online safety, please see the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s safety considerations at


Why do Victims Return to and Stay with Abusers?

A better question is, “Why does the abuser choose to abuse?”


The deck is stacked against the victim when confronted with leaving or not. Abusers work very hard to keep victims in relationships.


There is a real fear of death or more abuse if they leave. In fact, a victim’s risk of getting killed greatly increases when they are in the process of leaving or have just left. [2] On average, three women die at the hands of a current or former intimate partner every day. [3]


We, as a community, must do more to ensure the safety of victims when they leave.


Batterers are very good at making victims think that the abuse is their fault. Victims often believe that if they caused the violence, they can also stop it. Victims stay because they are made to think they cannot survive on their own, financially or otherwise. Often abusers create a financial situation that makes leaving nearly impossible.


Most often, survivors want the abuse to end, not the relationship.


A survivor may return to the abuser because that’s the person she the survivor fell in love with, and she believes his promises to change.  It’s not easy for anyone to let go of hopes and dreams.


To learn more about the complexities of leaving a domestic violence relationship, go to:


Do Abusers Show Warning Signs?

There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd, but most abusers share some common characteristics.


Some of the subtle warning signs include:

  • They insist on moving too quickly into a relationship.

  • They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true.

  • They insist that you stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.

  • They are extremely jealous or controlling.

  • They do not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.

  • They criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs.

  • Their words and actions don’t match.

  • Any one of these behaviors may not indicate abusive actions, but it’s important to know the red flags and take time to explore them.



Is it Possible for Abusers to Change?

Yes, but they must make the choice to change.

It’s not easy for an abuser to stop abusive behavior, and it requires a serious decision to change.  Once an abuser has had all of the power in a relationship, it’s difficult to change to a healthy relationship with equal power and compromises.


Sometimes an abuser stops the physical violence, but continues to employ other forms of abuse – emotional, sexual, or financial.  Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.



What Can I Do To Help?

  • Everyone can speak out against domestic violence. The problem will continue until society stands up with one resounding voice and says, “no more!”

  • Members of the public can donate to local, statewide, or national anti-domestic violence programs.

  • We can teach our children about what healthy relationships look like by example and by talking about it.

  • You can call on your public officials to support life-saving domestic violence services and hold perpetrators accountable.


[1]   National Network to End Domestic Violence. Domestic Violence Counts 2009: A 24-hour census of domestic violence shelters and services. (March 8, 2010).


[2]  Bachman, R. and Salzman, L., U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Violence Against Women: Estimates From the Redesigned Survey 1. (January 2000).


[3] U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Homicide Trends in the U.S. from 1976-2005. U.S. Department of Justice (2008).


“What is Domestic Violence?” Resources. Web. 14 Sept. 2014.                 


Wyoming Silent Witness Initiative

Domestic Violence Facts


Cause of Death

  • 55 Shot

  • 9 Beaten

  • 7 Stabbed

  • 2 Strangled

  • 2 Pushed off a cliff

  • 2 Ran over with a vehicle


Deadliest Year/Months

  • 8 deaths in 1994

  • June, July, and December have 8 recorded deaths per month


Age of Victims

  • Oldest: 76

  • Youngest: 15

  • Average Age: 32


Offender’s Relationship to Victim

  • 30 Spouse

  • 14 Boyfriend

  • 8 Ex-Boyfriend

  • 4 Ex-Spouse

  • 2 Acquaintances

  • 2 Dates

  • Ex- Brother-In-Law

  • 1 Stepson






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