Protecting victims, preventing violence,  and empowering survivors



1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. It is important to recognize the warning signs of an abusive partner, both for yourself, or so that you can assist a friend or family member who may find themselves entangled in this dangerous and life altering situation.

The following are just some of the indicators that of a potentially abusive relationship. Let these serve as warning signs if a partner matches some of these and question the health and safety of the relationship.

  • Pressures you to move fast in a relationship or pushes for more immediate commitment.
  • Has been abusive in past relationships. (physically, mentally,  or emotionally)
  • Believes in stereotyped gender roles and/or is domineering.
  • Is very jealous and possessive. Isolates you from your friends and family, and may try to persuade you to not have a job (or other activity outside of the relationship).
  • Experiences most emotions in the form of anger, and has difficulty expressing other emotions.
  • Has a violent temper and quickly changing moods.
  • Has two sides to his/her personality. Others may see your partner as a good person, but behind closed doors they express anger and aggression toward you.
  • Is cruel to animals or insensitive to their suffering.
  • Monitors your whereabouts, activities, or spending.
  • Does not listen to you, or becomes angrier, when you say “no” or assert your boundaries.

Am I Experiencing Abuse Toolkit

When you’re in the thick of things, it can be difficult to determine if what you’re experiencing is domestic violence/abuse.

The common depiction of abuse is black eyes and bruises. That happens, but, it’s important to know domestic violence can take other forms like emotional or psychological, sexual, financial and/or spiritual abuse.

We’ve prepared a toolkit to help you understand the various forms abuse can take so you can better assess your relationship and understand your situation. You can download the toolkit here,

Inside you’ll find links to helpful articles, recommended books, danger assessment tools, checklists, relevant survivor survey results, support communities and how to find help.

Remember, abuse happens to all types of people regardless of age, gender, race, economic or social status, or sexual orientation. And remember, abuse is never the victim’s fault, and help is always available.


  • Keep a packed bag at a trusted friend or relatives home, or in another disclosed location.
  • Tell a trusted neighbor about the violence. Ask them to call the police if they hear or see any disturbances.
  • Establish independence – open bank account/credit card only in your name.
  • Leave money, extra keys, important documents, medicine and clothes in a safe place or trusted person’s home so you can get it quickly.
  • Determine safe people and or safe places to turn to or go upon leaving. Keep crisis line numbers handy.
  • If possible, obtain an order of protection.
  • Remember that all online and phone activity may be monitored, including location/GPS tracking on phone.
  • Vary routine and transportation routes.

For a comprehensive list of important safety planning factors, including safety planning with your children, for your pet, or what to do if your local shelter is full, visit this link, and download the full tool kit.



Sexual assault can take many different forms, but one thing remains the same: it’s never the victim’s fault.

What is sexual assault? 

The term sexual assault refers to sexual contact or behavior that occurs without explicit consent of the victim. Some forms of sexual assault include:

  • Attempted rape
  • Fondling or unwanted sexual touching
  • Forcing a victim to perform sexual acts, such as oral sex or penetrating the perpetrator’s body
  • Penetration of the victim’s body, also known as rape

What is rape? 

Rape is a form of sexual assault, but not all sexual assault is rape. The term rape is often used as a legal definition to specifically include sexual penetration without consent. For its Uniform Crime Reports, the FBI defines rape as “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” To see how your state legally defines rape and other forms of sexual assault, visit RAINN’s State Law Database.

What is force? 

Force doesn’t always refer to physical pressure. Perpetrators may use emotional coercion, psychological force, or manipulation to coerce a victim into non-consensual sex. Some perpetrators will use threats to force a victim to comply, such as threatening to hurt the victim or their family or other intimidation tactics.

Who are the perpetrators?

The majority of perpetrators are someone known to the victim. Approximately seven out of 10 of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as in the case of intimate partner sexual violence or acquaintance rape.

The term “date rape” is sometimes used to refer to acquaintance rape. Perpetrators of acquaintance rape might be a date, but they could also be a classmate, a neighbor, a friend’s significant other, or any number of different roles. It’s important to remember that dating, instances of past intimacy, or other acts like kissing do not give someone consent for increased or continued sexual contact.

In other instances the victim may not know the perpetrator at all. This type of sexual violence is sometimes referred to as stranger rape. Stranger rape can occur in several different ways:

  • Blitz sexual assault: when a perpetrator quickly and brutally assaults the victim with no prior contact, usually at night in a public place
  • Contact sexual assault: when a perpetrator contacts the victim and tries to gain their trust by flirting, luring the victim to their car, or otherwise trying to coerce the victim into a situation where the sexual assault will occur
  • Home invasion sexual assault: when a stranger breaks into the victim’s home to commit the assault

Survivors of both stranger rape and acquaintance rape often blame themselves for behaving in a way that encouraged the perpetrator. It’s important to remember that the victim is a never to blame for the actions of a perpetrator.