Recognizing Abuse and How to Help

Where to Turn for Help and Warning Signs

January 24, 2018

Do you know where to go for help if you find yourself (or a friend) in an abusive relationship? Do you know how to recognize an abusive relationship? When I traveled to Long Island, New York, for Macaroni Kid's annual publisher meetup, one of our speakers was from a nonprofit serving victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the local community called The Retreat. Now you might ask yourself, as I did at first, why in the world would an organization like this be asked to speak to a group of publishers whose main focus is family fun?

But, think about it for a second. According to The Retreat, "one in three women will experience abuse at some point in their lives." Over 90% of Macaroni Kid's readers are women. That means that one-third of you readers have suffered, are suffering, or will suffer from abuse. That is a LOT of people. The staff of The Retreat stood up in front of us and asked, "Do you know who serves victims of abuse in your community? Do you know where to send someone if they need help?" I admit that I did not. I had no idea, despite the fact that I read about abuse in women's and mom's Facebook groups every. single. day. Women confiding in Facebook groups where they feel safe enough to ask questions and tell their stories. Women who are clearly being abused, but don't recognize it as such, or know what to do about it.

The following information is super important for you to know, whether or not you, yourself, have ever been abused. You never know when you will encounter a friend, neighbor, coworker, family member, or a complete stranger who needs this information. So read it. Soak it in. Teach your kids about it. Bookmark this page. Share it. You may even find yourself looking in the mirror after reading this information. Don't hesitate. Get help now.

Also, remember that not all victims of abuse are women. It happens to approximately 1 in 4 men, too, and they can also find help here.

The following checklist, provided by The Retreat, may help you decide if you, or someone you know, is being abused.

Does your partner:

  • Constantly criticize you and your abilities as a spouse or partner, parent, or employee?
  • Behave in an over-protective manner or become extremely jealous?
  • Threaten to hurt you, your children, pets, family members, friends, or themselves?
  • Prevent you from seeing family or friends?
  • Get suddenly angry or lose their temper?
  • Destroy personal property or throw things around?
  • Deny you access to family assets like bank accounts, credit cards, or the car, or control all finances and force you to account for what you spend?
  • Withhold medication or deny you access to health care?
  • Threaten to reveal your HIV status?
  • Force you to work in jobs not of your choosing?
  • Use intimidation or manipulation to control you or your children?
  • Hit, punch, slap, kick, shove, choke, or bite you?
  • Deny you access to your immigration documents?
  • Prevent you from going where you want to, when you want to, and with whomever you want to?
  • Make you have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually that you don’t want to do?
  • Control your expression of gender identity or sexual orientation?
  • Threaten to out you if you are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender?
  • Humiliate or embarrass you in front of other people?
  • If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may be a victim of domestic violence. You are not to blame and you are not alone.

    SafeHouse of Shelby County, Alabama, provided further information:

    Dating Abuse Red Flags

  • Being physically hurt, threatened, or manipulated
  • Feeling fearful or anxious around your partner
  • Changing what you do or say in fear of how your partner will react
  • Not being allowed to, or being afraid to, make decisions for yourself or express yourself
  • Not having your thoughts or wishes for personal space respected
  • Feeling a pounding or fluttering in your chest when your partner isn’t happy
  • Feeling embarrassed, put down, ashamed, or guilty
  • ​Is someone you care about in an unhealthy relationship?

    Five things you can say:

  • The abuse is not your fault
  • I’m afraid for you and your children
  • Substance abuse doesn’t cause this
  • I believe you
  • I will always be here for you
  • Five things you can do:

  • Learn about the dangers of leaving
  • Commit to being supportive
  • Remain non-judgmental
  • Compliment the survivor
  • Reach out to a trained advocate
  • Local Resources:

    Cape Cod Center for Women

    ​​Domestic Violence Counseling is available. ​Please contact our offices at​​ 774-763-2222 for an appointment

    Independents House Inc.

    24 HOUR HOTLINE: 800-439-6507

    Main Office:

    160 Bassett Lane, Hyannis, MA 02601

    Additional Locations:​

    FALMOUTH: 220 Main St., 2nd Fl. Ste 200, Falmouth, MA 02540

    ORLEANS: 5 Namskaket Rd. Unit 1, (enter on Childs Homestead), Orleans, MA 02653

    PROVINCETOWN: 2 Mayflower Ct., Provincetown, MA 02657

    Safe Harbor

    (508) 790-2933

    Department of Social Services, Cape & Islands Office

    (508) 394-1325

    (800) 352-0711

    TTY: (800) 352-0711

    32 Commercial Street, South Yarmouth MA.

    Emergency assistance for children and youths in abusive or neglectful environments. Also voluntary parental support services.

    For Emergency Shelter Services please call the
    Safe Link statewide hotline: 877-785-2020

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