Gulf Coast Women's Center For
Nonviolence

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Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is one of the most frequently occurring crimes in the US, yet is often the most underreported. Victims very often suffer in silence, feeling a sense of undeserved shame or blame for what is being done to them.

Fear, intimidation, threats, physical or sexual force, coercion, and emotional manipulation may be used to keep a victim in an abusive relationship. Leaving is made more difficult when the victim has been systematically isolated from friends, family, or other systems of support.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, help is available. Our Center offers services to assist you and your children in seeking safety and building a new, independent life safe from abuse.

All services for victims are free of charge and completely confidential.

  • Emergency Domestic Violence Shelter
  • Counseling
  • Outreach Counseling
  • Transitional Housing
  • Free Civil Legal Services
  • Case Management
  • Court Support/Advocacy
  • Information and Referral
Read More About Our Services

Domestic violence is a crime of power and control. Not all domestic abuse is physical.

Domestic violence can include:

Physical Abuse - Anything that hurts your body, causes discomfort or threatens your health; such as hitting, kicking, shoving, biting, burning, restraining, strangulation, withholding medications or medical treatment

Verbal Abuse - Name-calling, put-downs, constant criticism, threats

Emotional Abuse - Intense jealousy, isolation from friends and family, threatening to take away children or turning children against you, destroying sentimental items, intimidation and coercion, threatening suicide, minimizing and denying the abuse, blaming you for the abuse

Sexual Abuse - Forcing you to have sex or perform unwanted, humiliating or uncomfortable sexual activity; manipulating birth control; unfaithfulness

Financial Abuse - Controlling all the money in the relationship, spending money only on him/herself, ruining your credit, sabotaging your efforts to get and keep a job

Spiritual Abuse - Keeping you from practicing your religion of choice, forcing you to attend a church or temple you don't want to, using religious doctrine or scripture to justify abuse or keep you in the relationship

The Cycle of Violence

the cycle of domestic violence

In abusive relationships, the violence doesn't necessarily happen all the time. In between episodes of abuse, there can be good times, too, which makes it very difficult for victims to sort out their feelings and decide whether to leave. Typically, domestic violence follows a predictable pattern:

Calm - Things seem normal, without a lot of tension or threats of violence.

Tension - The abuser begins to get agitated, criticizing and being difficult to satisfy, looking for a reason to explode. Tension builds.

Explosion - The abusive episode occurs. The abuser blames the victim for the violence, denies and minimizes the damage.

Honeymoon - Apologies, excuses, promises it will never happen again. Promises to seek counseling or stop drinking, etc. Flowers, gifts, grand gestures to show the abuser has changed.

Back To Calm - If the victim stays, things calm down and the cycle begins again.

If Your Partner:

  • Calls you names
  • Forces you to stay inside
  • Keeps you away from family and friends
  • Says you can never leave them
  • Steals your money
  • Threatens or intimidates you
  • Threatens or hurts you, your children, your pets, or other family members
  • Slaps, hits, punches, kicks, strangles, or shakes you
  • Forces you to have sex against your will

...You are in an abusive relationship.

What You Can Do

  • Get medical help right away for your injuries.
  • Tell people you were hurt.
  • Take pictures of any injuries or damage.
  • Save the evidence, such as torn clothing.
  • Keep a log of the abuse. Write down the date, time, and place of each incident and names of witnesses and people you have asked for help.
  • If police are involved, keep a record of officers' names and case numbers.
  • Call our crisis line to develop a safety plan, seek emergency shelter, or ask for help.

Domestic violence is not a mental illness. It isn't caused by alcohol or drug addiction. It's not an anger management problem. It's a choice.

Our Mission: To support and serve victims of domestic violence and sexual assault, and family members of homicide victims, educate the community, and work to reduce incidences of violence.

Safety Plan for Victims in Danger

Even if you aren't ready to leave yet, there are some things you can do to help prepare you in the event that you need to get away. Gather the following items and leave them in a place where your abuser cannot find them:

  • $50 or more in cash
  • A small bag with extra clothing for you and your children
  • Any important papers, including
    • Bank account numbers
    • Checkbook
    • Your Social Security Number
    • Partner's Social Security Number
    • Partner's date of birth and/or workplace
    • Insurance policies
    • Marriage license
    • Birth certificates for you and your children
  • List of important phone numbers (family and friends)
  • Sentimental valuables and photos
  • Any special medications for you and your children
  • Extra keys for house and car

If you do leave, do not tell your partner where you are going.

The most dangerous time for domestic violence victims is the 48-hour period after they've left. It is best if you "lie low" for this two-day period and do not go to any places your abuser may expect to find you. Do not agree to go back alone to meet or talk with your partner; if you need to return for your belongings, ask the police to escort you. You may want to alert your friends and family, and possibly your children's teachers or school counselor, if you feel there's a risk your abuser may come looking for you or your children.

Our Center can provide shelter or other services to assist you, including legal assistance such as Domestic Violence Protection Orders.

Crisis Line: 800•800•1396