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  • How Abusers Speak

    We all know what sticks and stones can do, but the second part of that saying isn’t exactly true. Words do hurt. Some survivors have told us, in fact, words can hurt just as much or more than physical abuse. A survey on showed 62 percent of survivors said verbal abuse felt more damaging than physical violence. Unlike a bruise or broken bone that eventually heals, degrading comments can reverberate inside a person’s conscience for a lifetime. Beyond words as weapons,... read more

  • Dating After Domestic Violence, Critical Questions to Ask

    With the extreme stresses of COVID-19 and social distancing, it is easy to crave a relationship that will make all the pain go away. Some survivors of domestic violence want another chance at love. Some feel lost when they separate from the partner who abused them, missing the companionship that even a controlling relationship provided. They may long deeply for the promise of love and protection that the abuser failed to provide. At the same time, survivors of domestic violence may hesitate... read more

  • Ask Amanda: I Feel Guilty for Putting Him Away

    Q: My ex-boyfriend was put in jail because he missed his court date regarding criminal charges he was facing for domestic violence. My family thinks this is a win for me because he has caused me such grief and heartache but I can’t help feeling so much guilt that he is in there. I know I didn’t force him to beat me or to miss his court case but, I just can’t help feeling sad for him. He tried to kill me but still, I feel sorry for him.  –AV AV, Listen, tough love time. I think you need to... read more

  • Resisting Control When It's Disguised as Love

    Abusive and controlling partners often use "loving" acts to manipulate their victims. When intimidation, isolation, and even physical abuse no longer seem to be working, the abuser pulls out the wedding albums or acts charming and contrite to win the abused partner back. One former abuser, for instance, described how he regularly sent flower arrangements to his girlfriend’s workplace so her co-workers would tell her how lucky she was to be with him. Some people call these acts of love “the... read more

  • When Someone Else Controls the Money

    A relationship with an abusive partner often devastates victims’ finances. Unfortunately, leaving such a relationship often requires money to build a new life.  If you’re concerned about the way someone controls your money and resources, or those of someone you know, it’s important to learn the terms that define this common form of intimate partner abuse. Financial Abuse and Economic Abuse mean the same thing. They refer to deliberately limiting a partner’s ability to acquire or use... read more

  • The Silent Treatment: An Abuser's Controlling Tactic

    Refusing to listen, talk or respond to a partner is sometimes called “the silent treatment” or “hostile withholding.” Many abusers cut off their partners emotionally to hurt, punish or control them. Some abusers even refuse to acknowledge their partners’ existence for hours, days or weeks on end, making the partners feel as if they are somehow less than human—like a ghost: Zaraiva[*] could never tell what would set off her husband, Juan, and make him refuse to speak with her. Zaraiva first... read more

  • Helping Hasidic Jews Escape Domestic Violence

    “When I left my husband so my kids and I could survive, the community left me.” The above quote is from Mindi, describing what happened when she left her 16-year marriage to an abusive husband in a Hasidic community. How can support persons, advocates and communities help Hasidic Jewish women who are being abused by their husbands? First, a little background. Jews in the U.S. and around the world are diverse in many ways. A small but highly visible sliver of the Jewish community is made... read more

  • Are the Kids Really Okay?

    Sometimes children and teens seem to be “okay” when they and the victimized parent have left a situation of domestic violence. The children may not cry, may not want to talk about the hostility or its aftermath; and may even insist they are “just fine.” Caring parents want to know if they should believe that their children have survived unscarred, or keep probing for possible problems. Why might children deny their suffering? Some children want to protect the victimized parent from... read more

  • From Romance to Isolation: Understanding Grooming

    Most relationships that become violent or controlling do not start that way. Rather, they often begin with a heavy dose of romance. Abusers often shower their future victims with attention, flattery and care. The abuser may initially seem ideal—devoted, loving, supportive, and wanting to spend every minute with their new partner. This flood of romance can feel overpoweringly positive, leaving the recipient in an altered state where reality may seem suspended. This is a type of grooming, a... read more

  • Do I Need to Go to Rehab?

    Some survivors turn to drugs or alcohol as a way to cope with domestic violence and its aftereffects, such as fear, depression, difficulty sleeping and physical pain.  Some abusive partners push drugs and alcohol on victims as a way of controlling them and making it more difficult for them to break free.  And some physicians prescribe tranquilizers, sedatives and painkillers to survivors to help them cope with their abuse symptoms, unwittingly leading survivors to a substance use... read more

  • Refugee Children & Intimate Partner Violence: Part I

    Children suffer when they witness conflict and violence, especially when it involves their parents. The stress of this exposure overwhelms their developing bodies and brains, contributing to a range of negative social, medical and mental health outcomes. In fact, “mother treated violently” is one of the ten original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) known to impact children’s health and well-being into adulthood.Children who are refugees or whose parents are refugees often endure multiple... read more

  • Refugee Children & Intimate Partner Violence: Part II

    While many behaviors signal a child in distress, no behavior in and of itself is diagnostic of a child exposed to Intimate Partner Violence (IPV). Some children have difficulty concentrating and under-achieve academically, while others flourish in the safety of the classroom. Some evidence of post-traumatic symptoms include traumatic arousal (difficulty sitting still or problems sleeping), numbness, intrusive memories and a reduced ability to cope with stress. Some children have mostly... read more

  • Controlling Your Partner Is Illegal, But Not in the U.S.

    New Russian laws decriminalizing some forms of domestic battery can make us feel smug about victim protections in the U.S. In some parts of Europe, however, victims of domestic violence are far better protected than they are here. About 100 men have been convicted and sentenced for “coercive and controlling behavior” in England and Wales since a 2015 law made controlling one’s partner a serious crime. Many domestic violence survivors say the “violence wasn’t the worst part“ of their abuse.... read more

  • She Has No Money, She Will Come Crawling Back. NOT!

    Two weeks after they meet, he insists on moving into her apartment and pooling their funds in a joint bank account. Then he takes away her ATM card. He forbids her from working. Or he moves her to a rural area where she can’t find a job. He makes her late, trashes her work clothes, or interferes with her transportation or childcare, so she loses her job. He takes her paycheck and she has to beg him for money to fund basic needs. He drinks, drugs or gambles away their joint funds and... read more

  • Building Resilience After Trauma: Lessons from Chile

    Picture that you live in a little coastal village in Chile. Maybe you fish or sell homemade empanadas. You can just barely feed your children and keep a roof over your head, but you make it from one day to the next. Then a traumatic event strikes. Maybe your husband comes home drunk one day and smashes everything in your house before he disappears forever, leaving you with your three children, the two nieces you also raise, and bills to pay. Or maybe it’s a tsunami that wipes away most of... read more

  • Divorce Your (Bad) Mother: How to Leave and Still Be Free

    Frequent contributor, Senior Lecturer, University of Massachusetts and Author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship Lisa Aronson Fontes', PhD checks in with this fascinating interview with the award-winning performance poet, playwright, performer, teaching artist and highly sought after keynote speaker Magdalena Gomez about the conundrum of relationships between adult children and their abusive parents. LF: One of the characters... read more

  • 8 Ways Controlling Men Make Mothering Even Harder

    Being a mother is the most challenging job in the world, even with the help of a loving partner or other family member. We must recognize the additional difficulties facing mothers in abusive and coercive control relationships so we can give them the support they need to parent successfully. Most mothers who are being controlled by their partners make heroic efforts to keep their children safe and raise them well, despite the abuser's interference. Whether he is the biological father,... read more

  • Recovery After a Controlling Relationship

    It takes a long time to recover from an abusive and controlling relationship. Being monitored, isolated, stalked and abused leave their mark. Below are suggestions for people who have left a relationship of coercive control. People who are still in such a relationship should seek help from a domestic violence advocate, even if there is no physical violence. But beyond the break-up; before they can feel completely well again;victims/survivors need to focus on recovering. I’ve organized these... read more

  • Perspecticide: Erased by Your Partner

    Living with an abusive and controlling partner can feel like living in a cult, except lonelier. Victims' own viewpoints, desires, and opinions may fade as they are overwhelmed by the abusers'. Over time, they may lose a sense that they even have a right to their own perspectives. This is called perspecticide; the abuse-related incapacity to know what you know (Stark, 2007). Perspecticide is often part of a strategy of coercive control that may include manipulation, stalking, gaslighting and... read more

  • What is Coercive Control?

    The book, Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship, is written for people in controlling relationships and those who care about them. This concept of coercive control is poised to change the way we understand and address abuse and control in relationships. We invited Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, to speak with us about coercive control and about her book.  DomesticShelters: What is coercive control? Lisa Aronson Fontes: Coercive control is a strategy... read more

  • More About Coercive Control

    In our continuing Q&A with Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship, Fontes talks about why women are especially vulnerable to being controlled. Why are women who are in relationships with men most likely to be victimized? Fontes: Women are especially vulnerable to coercive control because of sexism. Sexism makes a relationship in which a man dominates a woman seem unremarkable. Even when we raise... read more

  • My Experience With Coercive Control

    In the last part of our Q&A with Lisa Aronson Fontes, PhD, author of Invisible Chains: Overcoming Coercive Control in Your Intimate Relationship, Fontes talks about how she escaped coercive control. Also, how we can all help stop the cycle. What are your own experiences of coercive control? Fontes: After my marriage of 26 years ended, I entered a relationship that lasted four years. This man seemed to offer me an ideal and highly romantic relationship—which I... read more

  • Abuse That's Hard to Recognize: Coercive Control

    Isolation. Threats. Humiliation. Sometimes even physical abuse. These are the weapons of coercive control, a strategy some people use against their intimate partners. A relationship that should involve loving support ends up as a trap designed for domination. Although coercive control can show up in a variety of relationships, the most common situation is where a man uses coercive control against his wife or girlfriend. However, people of any gender and orientation can be victims or... read more

  • Women Serve Longer Prison Sentences After Killing Abusers

    In 2017 in North Carolina, a man convicted of stabbing his pregnant wife to death in their bedroom was released from prison after only 7 years. Last May, a New Jersey man was sentenced to 15 years for the June 2017 murder of his wife, who died of blunt force trauma and was found floating in the couple’s backyard pool. Her online search history showed she was planning on leaving her husband.  In Nebraska, a man who was found guilty of severing his wife’s head has been allowed to reenter... read more

  • Battered Mothers Custody Conference Announces 2019 Dates

    Every day, protective mothers—those who have been abused by their partners—fight desperately in court to retain custody of their children and keep them away from the destructive grasp of the abusive parent.  And every day, says Dr. Mo Hannah, co-founder and chair of the Battered Mothers Custody Conference, whose 14th annual meet-up is happening this April in New York, many of those mothers lose, out-strategized by abusers armed with high-powered, high-priced lawyers, the likes of which many... read more

  • Would You Try Acupuncture After Trauma?

    Have you ever gone through something traumatic, like enduring abuse or losing a loved one, and felt physical pain in your body afterward? Maybe you had daily headaches or back pain that seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Naturopathic doctors believe trauma can manifest itself in physical ways because our bodies hold on to trauma indefinitely until we release it. Acupuncture is one alternative medicine technique thought to unlock this pain and suffering, rebalancing our energy so we... read more

  • Servicemembers Are Getting Away With Abuse

    In April 2017, we published a story about compensation available from the military for spouses whose active duty husbands are discharged for domestic abuse. The response from our readers was swift—many of you said that not only is this benefit rarely seen, trying to get a military court to prosecute domestic abuse is often impossible. “My experience with domestic abuse and the military is that it came down to whether or not the mission was still getting accomplished,” says reader and... read more

  • R. Kelly's Sex Cult is Domestic Violence

    In July of 2017, a story broke that seemed almost too absurd to be true—famed ‘90s rapper Robert “R.” Kelly had been holding young women hostage in a sex cult. Desperate parents were stepping forward asking police to help them get their daughters back, at least one of whom said she wanted to be with Kelly. “It was as if she was brainwashed. [She] looked like a prisoner — it was horrible,” said one of the moms of the young women who Kelly reportedly controls. She last saw her daughter... read more

  • Court Goes Easy on California CEO to Avoid Deportation

    Justice for Neha Rastogi former Silicon Valley tech CEO Abhishek Gattani pled no contest to one count of felony accessory and one count of offensive touching, a misdemeanor, in May 2017 after he was caught on audio assaulting his estranged wife, Neha Rastogi. In the recording, it was determined he slapped Rastogi nine times. Despite the glaring evidence, a Palo Alto court accepted a plea deal that resulted in Gattani serving just 13 days in jail for the crime. The deal comes on the... read more

  • A Day in the Life of an Advocate

    Case worker and court advocate Lisa Rahiem, shared with us what a typical day in her life was like when she was a domestic violence advocate for Thrive SC, a transitional housing nonprofit for survivors in South Carolina, looks like. She is the former assistant director of CASA, or Citizens Against Spouse Abuse, and also currently works with Project Unity. DomesticShelters: What led you to become a victim advocate? Lisa: I became an advocate after my nephew was killed when he was in... read more

  • The Battle for Pet Custody

    When separating from or divorcing a partner, things can get messy, even more so when it comes to dividing up shared property, a classification that, unfortunately, many courts still group pets under. An abusive ex-partner may try to use these pets as yet another means to control a survivor. Some studies show that some 25 to 40 percent of survivors will stay with an abusive partner because they’re worried about their pet’s safety. While some shelters accept pets, and other organizations... read more

  • Ask Amanda: How Can I Stop My Cyberstalker?

    Q: Even though I broke up with my abusive ex-boyfriend six months ago, he continues harassing me with texts and Facebook messages. No matter how I try to block him or how many times I change my number, he still seems to keep finding me. Is there anything I can do? – Michelle T. A: It sounds like you’re the victim of cyberstalking, Michelle, which means your abuser is using electronic means to harass you. This can not only include harassing calls, texts, emails and social media messages,... read more

  • Ask Amanda: How About a Category for Military Spouses?

    Q: Why is there no category [on] for military spouses? With rising rates of post-traumatic stress disorder and service members going untreated, it feels like domestic violence is being swept under the rug on military bases nationwide. – Lisa C. A: Creating a category for military service members and their spouses on is a great idea, Lisa. We do try our best to stay on top of the topic because, you’re right, domestic violence in the ... read more

  • 5 Stages of Recovery After a Breakup

    The reasons people stay in an obviously unhealthy relationship are as varied as the relationships themselves. They may stay for financial security, to give children a two-parent household, because they love their spouse or partner, or for reasons they may not even be able to articulate. For survivors of domestic violence, these reasons can be the same. But the barriers to leaving an abusive partner are numerous and can be complex, so make sure to give yourself or loved ones... read more