Donate Now
Your donation will help
reduce family violence

Search this site:

Domestic Violence FAQs

What is a TPO (Temporary Protection Order), a CPO (Civil Protection Order), or a CSPO (Civil Stalking Protection Order)?
What is Domestic Violence?
What is the cycle of Domestic Violence?
How common is Domestic Violence?
Who are the victims of Domestic Violence?
What are some of the common indicators of domestic violence?
What are the effects of domestic violence on children?
Can abusers change?
If I'm not being hit, is it still abuse?
Who are the abusers? What are some of the red flags or characteristics of an abuser?
Why don't people leave abusive relationships?
What should I take with me if I decide to leave?
How can I help someone I know who is a victim of domestic violence?
What is a Safety Plan?

Q: What is a TPO (Temporary Protection Order), a CPO (Civil Protection Order), or a CSPO (Civil Stalking Protection Order)?
Temporary Protection Orders (TPOs):
Accompany a criminal charge. TPOˇ¦s are granted when the abuser is arrested and has appeared in front of a judge and the victim has safety concerns. A TPO orders the abuser out of the home and to have no contact with the victim while the criminal case is pending in court. A temporary order lasts until the criminal case is resolved. A violation of this order can cause the offender to be arrested and charged with a first degree misdemeanor punishable by 6 months in jail and/or a $1,000 fine.

Civil Protection Orders (CPOs):
Offer more lasting and comprehensive protection than temporary orders. A request for a CPO can be made even if there are no criminal charges against the abuser. A civil protection order may:
* Order the abuser to have no contact with you or your children
* Evict the abuser from the home
* Forbid the abuser from owning or buying firearms
* Grant any other relief that the court considers equitable and fair
A CPO lasts up to a maximum of five years. A violation of this order can also result in a first degree misdemeanor.

Civil Stalking Protection Order
* Civil Stalking Protection Order (CSPO) can order the offender to stay away from you, get counseling, and prohibit him/her from owning any weapons
* There must be two or more stalking type incidents (threats, damage to or theft or property, physical injury and unwanted contact) closely related in time
* You must be in immediate fear and have suffered mental distress or physical injury
* You must have evidence that the offender is committing stalking type behavior: i.e. photos, witnesses, physical evidence, tape recordings, and police reports
* You must have either the offenderˇ¦s date of birth or social security number, and the address where the offender can be served by the Sheriffˇ¦s department (the offender will not be arrested)
* An emergency order can be issued within 24 hours after filing an application. The matter will be set for a full hearing once the suspect is served. At the full hearing both you and offender will be able to present evidence and testify
top of page

Q: What is Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.

Domestic violence is not an isolated, individual event, but rather a pattern of multiple tactics and repeated events. Unlike stranger-to-stranger violence, in domestic violence the assaults are repeated against the same victim by the same perpetrator. These assaults occur in different forms: physical, sexual, and psychological. The pattern may include economic control as well. While physical assault may occur infrequently, other parts of the pattern may occur daily. One battering episode builds on past episodes and sets the stage for future episodes. All tactics of the pattern interact with each other and have profound effects on the victims.

(“Understanding Domestic Violence: Preparatory Reading for Trainers” by Anne L. Ganley, Ph.D. in Domestic Violence-Child Protection Curriculum by Susan Schechter, M.S.W., 1995.)
top of page

Q: What is the cycle of Domestic Violence?
For many partners, violent incidents follow a predictable pattern.
Phase 1
Tension-Building is a time of minor conflicts when threats of violence may increase. This phase may last from a few hours to many months.

Phase 2
Violence erupts as the abuser throws objects at his or her partner, hits, slaps, kicks, chokes, abuses him or her sexually, or uses weapons. Once the attack starts, there's little the victim can do to stop it; there generally are no witnesses.

Phase 3
A period of remorse may follow. This is often called the "Honeymoon" phase. The abuser may apologize, often excessively, and may express guilt or shame. Many abusers will buy gifts, flowers, etc. so that the victim will forgive the abuse. Oftentimes the abuser will promise to go into treatment voluntarily, that the violence will never occur again, and that he or she will "Change".

Phase 4
Phase 1 starts all over again. However, the next time the assault occurs, chances are it will be much more severe.

(“Dynamics of Domestic Violence - The Cycle of Violence: Lenore Walker.")
top of page

Q: How common is Domestic Violence?
One in four women are currently or have been involved in an abusive relationship.

(Lieberman Research Inc., “Domestic Violence Advertising Campaign Tracking Survey” (Wave IV) Conducted for the advertising Council and the Family Violence Prevention Fund, July, October 1996)
top of page

Q: Who are the victims of Domestic Violence?
A: Domestic Violence does not discriminate. Victims can be young or old; rich or poor; male or female; educated or uneducated; African American, Hispanic, Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Asian, etc.
top of page

Q: What are some of the common indicators of domestic violence?
Common indicators include:
Unexplained injuries
Isolation from friends and family
Seems to be walking on egg-shells
Constantly trying to keep partner happy
Minimization of partner’s behavior
Becomes quiet when partner is around and seems afraid of
making partner angry
Casually mentions the violent behavior, but says it is “no big deal”
Asks for permission for money or to go places
Cancels plans at the last minute
Low self-esteem
Numbness to surroundings

top of page

Q: What are the effects of domestic violence on children?
A: The experience of witnessing domestic violence can have serious and long lasting effects on children, regardless of whether the children have been directly abused by a parent. The following is a summary of some of the effects that can result when a child witnesses violence between her/his parents.

Children will sometimes attempt to intervene, putting them at risk for physical harm. In one study, 63% of boys, ages 11-20, who committed homicide, murdered the man who was abusing their mother (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence).

Children often feel guilty that they were not able to prevent the violence and sometimes feel they were somehow to blame for the violence.
Depression, impaired trust, and low self-esteem are common in children who witness domestic violence.

Witnessing violence in the home often leads to behavior problems in children; typically children will develop aggressive or submissive behaviors. Children may identify with the role of the victim or the abuser.

Effects may include emotional problems in children such as anxiety disorders, phobias, learning problems, delayed social development and developmental delays.

Because of the emotional and behavioral effects of domestic violence, children may also develop academic or behavioral problems at school, drug or alcohol abuse, or delinquent behavior.

Research points to a strong tendency for the cycle of violence to continue to the next generation. Children from violent homes are at higher risk of getting involved in violent relationships as teens or adults. One researcher found, for example, that men who had witnessed domestic violence were three times as likely to abuse their own spouses. Sons of the most violent families have a rate of spouse abuse one thousand times greater than sons from nonviolent homes.

(Straus, 1980)
top of page

Q: Can abusers change?
A: One percent of abusers change, but before an abuser can change he/she must:
Admit that the abuse is his/her problem, not the partner’s and have the courage to seek help.

Begin to believe that he/she can change his behavior if he chooses to do so.

Be willing to reach out for help and talk to someone he trusts who will help him evaluate the situation.

Find alternative ways to act when he/she becomes frustrated or angry.

Talk to other men who have overcome abusive behavior. Find out what they did and how they did it.

Get information on a domestic violence treatment program for abusers and attend as opposed to anger management.

(From United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, When I Call for Help).
top of page

Q: If I'm not being hit, is it still abuse?
A: Yes. Abuse is a pattern of physically and emotionally violent and coercive behaviors that one person uses to exercise power and control over another. Abusers may use verbal insults, emotional abuse, financial deprivation, threats, and/or sexual and physical violence as a way to dominate their partners and get their way. The following are some examples of abusive behaviors:

o Yelling
o Name calling
o Threatening to hurt or kill
o Degrading women in general
o Criticizing appearance
o Belittling accomplishments
o Constant blaming

o Apologizing and making false promises to end the abuse; offering false hope
o Isolating from others
o Ridiculing, criticizing, blaming
o Neglecting physical or emotional needs
o Ignoring, withholding affection
o Abusing pets
o Accusing of affairs
o Monitoring conversations
o Making account for time
o Criticizing friends, family
o Embarrassing in front of others
o Undermining authority with children
o Constant phone calls

o The abuser touts himself as able to speak “God’s Will”
o Interpreting scripture and using it as justification for abuse
o Using such phrases as: “Christ has forgiven me, why can’t you?”
“Allah has inspired me to tell you this.” “Our faith leader said need to
work with me.” (even though the other partner may not feel safe doing

o Taking or breaking phone
o Controlling money/bank accounts
o Withholding financial information
o Making account for expenditures
o Withholding child support
o Destroying property
o Taking or disabling car
o Taking keys/purse
o Quitting or losing jobs
o Running up debts
o Sabotaging work or school

o Constant sexual demands
o Forcing unwanted sexual acts
o Insisting on unwanted and uncomfortable touching
o Committing rape or incest
o Forcing sadistic sexual acts
o Treating others as sex objects
o Making demeaning sexual remarks
o Forcing family members to see pornographic materials
o Calling fat, ugly, no good in bed
o Wanting sex after abuse
o Forcing to have sex with others
o Forcing pregnancy or abortion

o Holding down
o Hair pulling
o Poking, grabbing
o Pushing, shoving
o Locking in or out of the house
o Subjecting to reckless driving
o Refusing to help when sick or injured
o Kicking, biting
o Hitting, slapping
o Choking, strangling
o Burning
o Throwing or hitting with objects
o Using a knife or gun

(Ohio Domestic Violence Network – except for Spiritual Abuse “Faith Leaders Working with Victims of Domestic Violence and their Abusers – Utah Domestic Violence Council”)

top of page

Q: Who are the abusers? What are some of the red flags or characteristics of an abuser?
A: There is no one single profile of a batterer. Like a victim it could be anyone, but they usually possess some common characteristics.
extreme jealousy
minimization of his actions
denial and rationalization
extremely controlling of his partner and children
can not empathize with others
unrealistic expectations of his partner
blames others for his feelings
hypersensitivity to others’ criticisms
Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde personality
background of family violence
can read other people (police, courts, therapists) well when he needs
to protect himself
repetitive pattern of violence
increasing assaultive behavior over time
threats to kill and attempts to kill
will not allow his partner to leave him
he feels he is entitled to control his partner and it is her obligation to
obey him
his is a moral person even if he uses violence against his partner
he will get what he wants through the use of violence

(Ohio Domestic Violence Network)
top of page

Q: Why don't people leave abusive relationships?
A: There are numerous reasons whey a person may not choose to leave an abusive relationship. Despite the reason, the victim should not be judged for the decision to stay. Ask yourself what the 3 most important things in your life are and then imagine losing any one of those 3 things. Research indicates that it takes an average of 7 physical altercations before a victim actually leaves the abusive relationship. Here are some reasons why a victim stays:
-The victim has no money; the abuser has financially isolated her.
-The victim does not know of resources that will assist her.
-Fear of leaving as the victim has been told that the abuser will kill her,
her family or himself.
-The victim doesn’t think it is abuse.
-The abuser has promised to never do it again and she loves him.
-The abuser has threatened to take the children away if she leaves.
-The victim has older sons that the shelter won’t house.
-The shelters are full.
-The victim loves the abuser.
-The victim has been told by family/clergy that she is married and
should stay with her husband, the abuser.
-The victim has children that love the abuser and do not want to leave.
-The victim has tried to leave before, and the abuser found her.
-The victim cannot speak English.
-The victim is an illegal immigrant.
-The victim is disabled and relies on the abuser for care giving.
-The victim is afraid of the unknown.
-The victim and/or the abuser is a public figure and there is fear that
the media will find out.
-The victim is isolated from friends/family and has no place to turn.
-The victim is depressed.
-The abuser threatens to expose the victim as a lesbian.
top of page

Q: What should I take with me if I decide to leave?
A: - Identification/Driver’s License
- Birth Certificate and children’s’ birth certificates
- Money
- Small items of sentimental value
- Lease/Rental Agreement/House Deed/Mortgage payment book
- Bank Books/Check book/Credit cards
- Insurance papers
- Keys to house/car
- Medication for self and/or children
- Small saleable objects, jewelry
- Address books
- Pictures
- Medical records for all family members
- Social security cards
- Welfare identification
- School records
- Divorce papers/work permits/green card
- Children’s favorite toys and blankets

(Ohio Domestic Violence Network)
top of page

Q: How can I help someone I know who is a victim of domestic violence?
A: As friends and family members, it can be difficult to know what to do when someone you care about is experiencing domestic violence. Here’s a list of some guidelines to assist you in addressing the violence with the friend or family member and helping them seek the help that is available. Although we will use the term victim/survivor and batterer throughout this handout, please be aware that she may not see herself as a victim/survivor or view her partner as a batterer.
--Ask questions. If you suspect domestic violence is occurring, ask how the relationship is going. Ask about disagreements and tension that you observe in the relationship. You can ask specific questions like, “Has he ever pushed or shoved you?” or “Has he ever called you or your children names?”
--Be aware of the effects of domestic violence. Domestic violence has serious and dangerous physical and emotional effects on everyone living in the household, including the children. Educate yourself on the effects of domestic violence so that you can share them with the victim/survivor in a non-judgmental way that lets her know that you are concerned. Information can be a powerful tool in helping her recognize and mobilize herself against future violence.
--Trust her knowledge. Victim/survivors are the “experts” on their relationships and are typically aware of the patterns of violence that occur in the relationship and the batterer’s behavior, so trust her to gauge when she is safest. Respect her choices about when she can or cannot take certain steps.
--Give her positive feedback. Physically abusive relationships are also emotionally abusive, and all types of abuse lower the victim/survivor’s self esteem. Some victims stay in the relationship because they believe that they are to blame for the abuse or do not see the possibility of a nonviolent relationship. She may also have fears of making it on her own. Remind her of her strengths and abilities and her importance to you.
--Recognize her efforts. Realize that the victim/survivor is doing something every day to try to improve her situation. Victim/survivors try many things to stop the violence in their lives. These may include talking with the abuser, calling the police, or contacting a mental health professional or clergy member. Recognize that although you might like to see her make different choices, she is trying to improve her situation. Change often occurs in small steps that eventually lead to large gains.
--Do not criticize the batterer. Saying critical things about the batterer also implies criticism of the victim/survivor as she may have chosen the batterer as her partner. Also, one of the ways that many abusers isolate their victims is by telling her that her friends and family don’t like him and want to break up the relationship. Criticisms of the abuser may convince her that he is telling the truth about this. Keep in mind that she may also see his positive qualities and continue to love him, despite the abuse. Criticizing the abuser can cause distance in your relationship making her less likely to come to you for support.
--Don’t make choices for her. One aspect of abusive relationships is that the batterer limits the victim’s ability to make choices. Try not to repeat this behavior by giving her ultimatums or orders. Issuing ultimatums or orders may lessen her ability to confide in you and get your support.
--Learn about community resources. You may want to help yourself by contacting a local shelter or domestic violence program to educate yourself about domestic violence and learn more about community resources. Expand your own support system so that you can share your feelings and frustrations with others.
--Be patient and know your limits. A victim/survivor may try to leave several times before she makes a final break, and this process can take years. While it can be difficult to maintain your patience with her, remember that leaving is a process that takes time. Develop personal boundaries for yourself so that you can be supportive, but not overwhelmed by a victim/survivor’s needs. Make sure to take time for yourself to engage in self-care and get support.
--Encourage her to start a log or journal. This may help the victim/survivor to realize the frequency, severity, and duration of the abuse she has experienced and can be a helpful source of information later. You may also want to keep a log that can include information about the violent events or others who saw or heard the event, pictures, and information about injuries to the victim or property.
--Encourage the victim/survivor to develop a safety plan. Safety plans can help the victim/survivor to make important plans and decisions about her safety. Safety plans may include the “what” and “how” a victim/survivor will respond if violence is imminent. Safety planning is an ongoing process that changes and evolves as she makes difficult decisions about the relationship. Contact your local shelter to learn more specific information about safety planning. Local shelter numbers can be accessed by calling ODVN at 800-934-9840.
--Call the police. If you witness or hear a violent episode, DO NOT try to intervene physically as this may result in injuries to you or others. Call 911 immediately. When the police arrive, cooperate, ask to fill out a statement, and prepare yourself to testify in court. Often the victim/survivor cannot cooperate with the police or follow through to take necessary legal steps due to her fear of the abuser.

(Ohio Domestic Violence Network)
top of page

Q: What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is something that increases the victim’s safety and prepares in advance for the possibility of further violence. A safety plan recognizes that the victim does not have control over the abuser’s violence, but does have a choice about how to respond to the abuser and how to best get her and her children to safety. The safety plan asks the following questions:

**If we are going to have and argument, I can try to move to a space that is lowest in risk, such as _________________________. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, and kitchen, near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door).

**If it is not safe to stay, I can _____________________________________. (Practice how to get out of house/apartment safely. What doors, windows, and fire escapes would you use?)

**I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them ___________________ so that I can leave quickly.

**I can tell ______________________ and _______________________ about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.

**I can teach my children to use the telephone to contact the police and use ________________________ as my code word so that my children or friends can call the police.

**If I have to leave home, I can go _______________________ or __________________ or ____________________. (Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time.)

(Ohio Domestic Violence Network)
top of page

© 2005 Family and Child Abuse Prevention Center
Privacy Policy