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Who Are The Victims?
Why Get Help
Safety Planning
Protection From Abuse Orders
For Teenagers
Power And Control
Domestic violence can take many forms, but its goal is always the same: batterers want to control their partners through fear. They do this by regularly abusing them physically, psychologically, sexually and economically. It is a pattern of behaviors that tend to become more frequent and intense over time.

If you are in danger, call 911 immediately!

If you need to speak with a counselor or are in need of shelter, call the Laurel House 24 hour toll-free hotline:
TTY 1-888-883-0770

You are not alone. Help is available.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, NOW is the time to start thinking about protecting yourself and your children.

Who Are The Victims?

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. They are our neighbors, our mothers, sisters, aunt and friends. Some men are also battered, but according to statistics, 95% of reported cases are women. Victims of domestic violence come from all social, economical, racial, and educational backgrounds.

Secondary victims are the children. The effects of domestic violence on children may cause life-long scars from the terror of witnessing the abuse.

If you can answer yes to one or more of the following questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Does your partner:
  1. hit, punch, slap or bite you?
  2. threaten to hurt your or the children?
  3. humiliate you in public or private?
  4. ignore your feelings?
  5. withhold affection, appreciation or approval as punishment?
  6. have sudden outbursts of anger or rage?
  7. become jealous without reason?
  8. prevent you from seeing family and friends?
  9. prevent you from going where you want, when you want?
  10. threaten to hurt friends and family members?
  11. prevent you from working or going to school?
  12. destroy personal property or sentimental items?
  13. deny access to family assets such as bank accounts, credit cards, and the car?
  14. force you to have sex against your will?
  15. force you to engage in sexual acts you do not enjoy?
  16. insult or call you derogatory names?
  17. use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
  18. turn minor incidents into major arguments.
  19. abuse or threaten to abuse pets?
Please call our 24-hotline to speak to a counselor if you need to talk with somebody or have any questions.
TTY 1-888-883-0770

Why Get Help?

No one deserves to be abused.
Domestic violence hurts everyone involved. Victims are forced to live in fear, isolation and desperation. Being a victim of domestic violence is due to the behavior of the batterer, not the personal characteristics of the individual being abused. Every woman, every person, has the right to live a life free of violence.

The danger is real and will escalate.
Domestic violence is a pattern of controlling and abusive behaviors by a partner that escalates over time. These behaviors are not the result of stress, anger, drugs or alcohol. They are learned behaviors that one person uses to intimidate and control the other person. They are destructive and dangerous. Every year, thousands of women are seriously injured or killed by their partners.

The harm to children.
Domestic violence is a crime that spares no one - not the partner who is battered or the children who witness it. Children who witness abuse, though sometimes not a target themselves, are no less victims. Their physical and emotional pain is long lasting and the consequences are staggering. Children who witness violence between the two people who are their most important sources of security and love are effected emotionally, behaviorally, and cognitively. They grow up learning that it is okay to hurt other people or let others people hurt them.

Leaving a violent relationship isn't easy. Women stay because of money, family pressure, concern for the children, fear or feelings for the abuser. Whether you stay or leave, help is available.


Safety Planning

The most important step you can take is to put together a safety plane to protect yourself (and your children) from the abuser.

  • Call 911 if you or your children are in danger and need help.
  • Talk with a friend or relative you trust about what is going on. They may be a good source of support.
  • Contact the Laurel House hotline at 1-800-642-3150 to find out about laws and community resources (shelter, counseling, support groups, legal assistance) before you need them. They can help you plan ways to stay safe. If you do not live in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. They will help you with a domestic violence program in your area.
  • Have important phone numbers available for you and your children.
    • Police - 911
    • Laurel House - 1-800-642-3150
    • Friends or relatives
  • Arrange a signal with a neighbor to let them know when you need help. For example, turn on a porch light during the day, or down a particular window shade.
  • Keep money stored in a secret place so that you have access to it in an emergency, or if you decide to leave. Be sure to include some coins so you can make calls from a public phone if you need to.
  • If you can, leave extra money, car keys, clothes, and copies of important papers with a close friend, relative or neighbor.
  • Ask your health care provider or a friend to take photographs of your injuries, such as bruises, scratches, black eyes, etc. and make sure that they are put in your medical records or in a safe place with a written description of what happened. This information will make it easier for you if you decide to take legal action in the future.

When and if you decide to leave try and take the following items with you:

  • Identification
  • Birth certificates for you and your children
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Health insurance documents
  • Social Security cards
  • Medications
  • Welfare Identification
  • Address book
  • Keys - house/car/office
  • Protection from Abuse Order


Protection from Abuse Orders

A piece of paper may not stop punches or kicks, harassment, bullets or knives but when issued and enforced effectively, a protection order can significantly enhance the safety of victims of domestic violence. Pennsylvania's Protection from Abuse Act allows a victim of domestic violence to obtain a type of restraining order from the court that, at the very least, prohibits the batterer from committing further acts of violence.

Who Can Get One?

Any one who has been physically or sexually abused by a spouse, former spouse, family member, partner, other parent of your child, current or former person in a dating relationship, or family member. Any one who has been stalked - repeatedly harassed to the point of being terrorized, threatened, or intimidated.

For more information about PFA's please call Laurel House at 1-800-642-3150. A staff member will be able to assist you with your questions.

For Teenagers

Dating violence is the physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse of one partner by the other partner in a current or former dating relationship. This includes serious or casual dating relationships. It happens in male/female relationships as well as in lesbian and gay relationships. Dating violence means more than "being hit" by the person who claims to love you or care about you. Abuse and violence are used a part of larger pattern to try and control you.

Early Warning Signs of Teen Dating Violence

Are you going with someone who…

  • Is suspicious of everybody with whom you speak
  • Wants to be with you constantly
  • Tries to decide what you do and with whom you spend time
  • Gives orders and expects you to follow them
  • Pressures you to go steady right away
  • Expects you to put up with quickly changing moods
  • Discourages you from spending time with friends or family
  • Puts you down in public and in private
  • Breaks objects near you in order to frighten you
  • Was violent to partners in previous relationships
  • Forces or manipulates you into having sex - - "If you loved me, you would do it…"
  • Believes men should be in control of the relationship
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be in a potentially abusive relationship.

Safety Plan for Teens
  • Trust your instincts - if you are uncomfortable, leave or end the relationship.
  • If you suspect your partner is abusive, don't be alone with him/her.
  • Make sure you have your own money - either to pay your own way or at least enough to get home.
  • Don't allow yourself to become isolated from your friends and family.
  • Introduce your partner to your parents.
  • If abuse occurs, don't keep it a secret. Tell someone you trust and are comfortable with.
  • Know the phone number of the police, local domestic violence program and other available resources.
Leaving an abusive relationship

If you are in an abusive relationship and would like to end it, remember the following:

  • End the relationship over the phone where the abuser cannot hurt you.
  • Try not to be alone when walking to school or through town, you are safer when you are with other people.
  • If you are alone at home, do not let your abuser in, no matter what the abuser says.
  • Call the police if your abuser is trying to hurt you or you feel you are in any danger.

Take your abuser seriously if he/she threatens to hurt you or anyone close to you. Abusers have no limits on what they will do, regardless of the consequences.

What to do if a friend is being abused.

  • Express your concerns and be supportive
  • Talk to your friend about the abuse
  • Be non-judgmental
  • Support your friend's strengths
  • Work on a safety plan
  • Be there, listen, and stay there
  • Encourage your friend to get help. She/he can call our 24-hour hotline at 1-800-642-3150. The hotline staff is there to help and she/he does not have to give her/his name. Your friend could also talk to a school counselor, teacher, clergy member, relative or any trusted adult. Is she/he is nervous or scared, offer to go with her or him to make the first call.
Remember, you can't solve your friend's problems, but you can offer support.

Power And Control