“He makes me feel so crazy. I feel so alone.”
“My partner threatened to ‘out’ me to my family if I leave him. I feel trapped.”
“My family has seen my bruises and heard her yell at me but they act like it is isn’t happening because they don’t want to believe I am a lesbian.”
“When my 4 year old child stomped on a doll with all his might and told me, 'I’m just doing what daddy does to you,' I knew I had to get away from my partner.”
Domestic Violence or Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) affects us all. Although most victims of IPV are women, anyone can be hurt or threatened by their partner. IPV affects the entire family. Children see and hear more than their parents realize and are hurt by childhood exposure to IPV.
Patient Education Materials
Get Help Now
You Are Not Alone
Please get help. Download our safety plan. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or find a local domestic violence agency to help you now. (In San Francisco call one of these agencies). Speak to your healthcare provider about what is happening and ask for help. If your healthcare provider does not know how to help you, ask her/him to visit this website at www.leapsf.org.
Relationships with Others Affect Our Health
Being in a relationship with someone who is abusive can harm our psychological and physical health. All abuse—emotional, psychological, physical, sexual, economic, and social—can harm us. People who are being hurt by their partner may have lower self-esteem, more depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. They also may have more physical problems such as sexually transmitted diseases, chronic pain, or other medical problems.
Abusive Adults Most Often Do Not Change
Many people who are being hurt by their partner hope that the abuser will change. Unfortunately the abuse usually gets worse rather than better. Some people have been taught since childhood that relationships involve using intimidation, power, lies, and manipulation to control one’s “partner”. Sometimes this behavior is learned when a child (especially a boy) grows up watching his father/male guardian hurt his mother/female guardian. Other times this abusive behavior is learned without direct exposure to adult intimate partner violence (or “domestic violence”).
Abusive behavior is extremely challenging to “unlearn.” Typical treatment programs for “battering,” called “batterer’s intervention programs” last for 52 weeks and work well for only a small percentage of batterers. A batterer must be extremely motivated to change his/her words, actions, thoughts, and feelings if he/she is to become a more loving and supportive partner. To prevent abuse, we need to help children learn about healthy relationships from a very young age and promptly help young people who seem to be developing unhealthy relationships.
Children are Harmed by Exposure to IPV
Children exposed to adult IPV often have emotional, behavioral, developmental and physical problems related to the abuse—even when they are not directly abused. Children exposed to adult IPV are more likely to end up in abusive relationships during their teenage and adult years. Preventing childhood exposure to adult IPV will help “break the cycle” of abuse. To learn more about how children’s brains and behavior develop, read Dr. Bruce Perry’s materials for parents and educators.
If Someone Is Hurting You, It Is Not Your Fault
No matter what your abuser says, the abuse is not your fault! No one deserves to be hurt or harmed. You deserve to have healthy relationships—for your health and the health of your children. Please get help now. Go to our patient education section to learn more.
If You Are Hurting Someone or Worried That You Will
If you really want to change your behavior there are programs that can help you. Please join a long term (at least a year) program that specifically focuses on un-learning abusive ways of relating. “Anger management” programs are not the same as “Batterer Intervention Programs”. If you are hurting, threatening, or trying to control your partner, a “Batterer’s Intervention Program” is most appropriate. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for referrals. In San Francisco please call one of these local “Batterer’s Intervention” programs.