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Indicators of Abuse       
Is It A Crime?
Who Are the Victims?       
Cycle of Violence       
Who's Fault Is It?
Where Can Victims Seek Refuge?   
What Legal Action Can Victims Take?
What Should Victims Do If They're In Danger?
What If Victims Aren't Sure What They Should Do?
How Can Victims Take Their First Steps to Freedom From Abuse?

Safety Tips

Download Domestic Violence Wheels
Developed by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project.
(Duluth, MN)
Power and Control Wheel*
Equality Wheel*
Other adaptations of Power and Control Wheel - @ National Center on Domestic Violence and Sexual Violence.

*You will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to access these files. Click below for free download.

DEFINITION                                                                                     Back to top
Domestic violence may be defined as the physical, sexual or emotional abuse of one household or family member by another.

INDICATORS OF ABUSE                                                                  Back to top

Physical Abuse Pushing, shoving, punching and choking
Sexual Abuse Forcing unwanted sexual acts, rape and incest
Emotional Abuse Threats, insults and forced humiliating acts
Isolation Preventing contact with family and friends and extreme jealousy
Intimidation Punching walls, destroying things and harming pets

IS IT A CRIME?                                                                                Back to top
Domestic violence is a crime when a person:

  • Knowingly causes or attempts to cause physical harm to a family or household member;

  • Recklessly causes serious physical harm to a family or household member;

  • By threat of force, knowingly causes a family or household member to believe that the offender will cause imminent physical harm.

WHO ARE THE VICTIMS?                                                                Back to top
Domestic violence cuts across the lines of race, gender, culture, nationality, sexual orientation, class and age. Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence. However, the Bureau of Justice Statistics reports (2001) that 85% of victims of intimate partner violence are women, and that women ages 16-24 are at the highest risk of being affected by intimate partner violence (1998).

CYCLE OF VIOLENCE                                                                      Back to top
Many victims experience a cycle of abuse in three phrases.

  • In phase one, tension builds up in the relationship. There is a denial of impending violence.

  • In phase two, violence occurs. The abuser denies responsibility.

  • In phase three, often called “the honeymoon phase,” the abuser denies the severity of the abuse and promises that it won’t happen again.

The cycle is repeated, over and over. But for some victims, the violence doesn’t follow this pattern.

WHOSE FAULT IS IT?                                                                     Back to top

Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior.

Only the abuser can control that behavior.

Violence is not the victim’s fault.

WHERE CAN VICTIMS SEEK REFUGE?                                            Back to top
In order to survive, a victim of domestic violence has developed incredible survival skills. At some point in time, she will know when she must take action to protect herself, and her children as well. Even if the abuser doesn’t attack the children, they are likely to be witnesses to the violence, and it will impact their lives. 

  • Domestic violence victims can seek help from a domestic violence shelter. Throughout Ohio there are shelters, safe houses and non-residential programs, all designed to help victims and their children.

  • Domestic violence shelters have hotlines that accept crisis calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If a victim doesn’t need to seek shelter, she may want to ask about legal services, counseling or other support services. 

  • Aside from providing living space away from abusers, shelters provide support services and legal advocacy. Victims have the opportunity to know that they are safe from harm. Victims have time to re-group and begin to examine their options for the future. Because victims often leave home with only bare necessities, shelters may provide extra clothing and toiletries. When victims leave, shelters may provide them with household items if they’re starting over.

  • Shelters may also provide special programs for children, to help them deal with the changes taking place in their lives. Some shelters even arrange for foster care for family pets.

WHAT LEGAL ACTION CAN VICTIMS TAKE?                                   Back to top
Victims may file charges against their abusers. Victims may apply for protection orders. Legal advocates at shelters and victim advocates at prosecutors’ offices are there to help.

WHAT SHOULD VICTIMS DO IF THEY’RE IN DANGER?                    Back to top
If your life or the lives of your children are in immediate danger, call 911.  If you’re not in immediate danger, you may want to call your nearest domestic violence shelter. To connect with your nearest shelter, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800 799-7233). Weekdays during business hours you could call ACTION OHIO (888 622-9315) for referral.


  • Victims might confide in a family member or a friend.

  • Victims might contact a community resource/referral agency.

  • Victims might talk with a medical or mental health professional or a dentist.

  • Victims could call their local domestic violence shelter and express their concerns and ask questions.

  • Weekdays during business hours you could call ACTION OHIO (888 622-9315) for resource information and referral.

If you are a domestic violence victim, you understand the danger that you face every day. Breaking free will require you to create a safety plan, in order to minimize your risks when you know it’s time to leave.                          Back to top

 Here are some ideas that may help:                                              Back to top

  • Determine the safest route out of your home.

  • Pack a bag with necessities and hide it.

  • Develop a way to signal a neighbor or friend nearby if/when you need help.

  • Gather important family papers (driver’s license, birth certificate/s, medical records and social security card/s) and place them in a secret place.

  • Save and hide small amounts of money over time.

  • Consider clothing (and toys for the kids) you would need to take if/when you leave.

© 2016 ACTION OHIO Coalition For Battered Women  All Rights Reserved.
PO Box 423, Worthington OH 43085-0423 | Phone 614.825.0551 | Toll Free 1.888.622.9315 | E-mail