Coordinated Community Response Column: Some FAQs about Domestic Abuse

What is domestic abuse?

Domestic abuse is when one person exerts power and control over another in a systematic way to inflict harm or cause someone to feel harmed. It can take many forms, oftentimes a combination.


What are those forms?

Physical and sexual abuse are the most obvious forms of domestic abuse. Less obvious and every bit as harmful are financial, emotional and verbal abuse.


What are some of the signs someone is experiencing abuse?

Victims often seem depressed, have low self-esteem or lack trust in others. They may seem to have fallen off the face of the earth through isolation. They may experience health problems, have anxiety attacks or sleep disorders. They may gain or lose a noticeable amount of weight or just not seem their regular self.


Why doesn’t a person just leave?

No money. No car of their own. Nowhere to go. Family members or beloved pets left behind. They’re ashamed and don’t want to admit there is abuse. Even when finances are not an obstacle, just getting through each day can be exhausting gathering the energy needed to get away seems impossible.


Aren’t abuse victims usually women?

Oftentimes, yes, but children suffer the effects too. Witnessing abuse is traumatic. Growing up in a household where people are treated badly makes it far more likely the patterns of abuse continue into the next generation. Men, women and children are victims. Rich, poor, working and not, highly educated and not, anyone can be a victim. Anyone.


What can I do to help a friend I think may be a victim?

Offer support and let them know they are not alone. Try not to tell them what to do. Give them our number 800.914.3571 and we’ll help them gather options and strength.


What can I do to help a friend I think may be an abuser?

Learn the warning signs: constantly putting a partner down, extreme jealousy or possessiveness, making false accusations, isolating their partner, pressuring for or forcing sex. Let them know that positive change will create a better relationship.


How does HELP help?

Our first priority at HELP of Door County is safety. Advocates help survivors understand the dynamics of abuse and devise a safety plan. Oftentimes the next step is to discuss options. Perhaps it’s helping to find a safe place to stay for a night or two and sometimes it’s help with securing transitional living arrangements, providing some basic cleaning supplies and toiletries not covered by assistance programs.

We provide a safe place for supervised or monitored family visits and child exchanges. Families in transition are able to maintain contact with each other without worrying about the stress sometimes present during these interactions.

Group programs help abusers understand how they can move toward healing and build healthier relationships.

Prevention is at the heart of the educational outreach talks that HELP staffers present to area clubs and groups.

Domestic abuse thrives when we remain silent. Join us in the continuing conversation to end domestic abuse.


If you are struggling with abuse or know someone, call to set up an appointment to see a domestic violence advocate and discuss your options at HELP of Door County, Inc. at 920.743.8818.


This article is brought to you in part by the Door County Coordinated Community Response (CCR) to Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Teams and the Door County Elder and Adult-at-Risk Interdisciplinary Team.


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