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Understanding Domestic Violence

Domestic violence affects all of us and can happen to anyone regardless of race, culture, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, or economic status.

Domestic Violence (DV) is abuse. Abuse is a pattern of behavior that one person uses to gain power and control over the other.

These behaviors can include but aren’t limited to:

  • Isolation from friends and/or family
  • Physical and Emotional Abuse
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Monitoring
  • Financial Control
  • Reproductive Coercion
  • Threats against friends and/or family

For an in-depth defintion of these behaviors please visit: Types of Abuse Defined

It is important to note that domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as extreme as physical violence. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim, nor does it mean the victim is any less trapped by the abuse.

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There is NO “typical victim.” People of any race, age, gender, sexuality, religion, culture, education level, or economic status can be a victim of domestic violence.

Victims of domestic violence do not bring violence upon themselves, they do not always lack self-confidence, nor are they just as abusive as the abuser. Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain that control. In relationships where domestic violence exists, violence is not equal. Even if the victim fights back or instigates violence in an effort to diffuse a situation. There is always one person who is the primary, constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship.

Legal Options

There are civil options that are separate from the criminal justice system that you might find helpful. For example, you may want to seek a sexual assault or domestic violence protection order in civil court that can prohibit the person who assaulted you from contacting you or coming within a certain distance of you, your home, and your workplace. An ATVP legal advocate can help you navigate this process.

Along with connecting you with a legal advocate, ATVP partners with the Northwest Justice Project to host legal clinics for our eligible clients. This alllows for clients in need to have time in a quiet and safe enviroment to work with a professional attorney free of charge. For more information about NJP please visit the resources section below.

*Also below see links to legal paperwok provided by NJP. Paperwork includes protection orders, divorce, and parents plans/custody.

Supporting Someone Experiencing Abuse:

Domestic violence is complicated, but help is available. You can talk with an advocate anytime (you don’t have to be in crisis) to sort out how to help someone who is in an abusive relationship or to get help yourself. Our 24/7 free and confidential hotline: (509) 332-HELP | (208) 883-HELP.

The three ways to help best support someone experiencing abuse are:

  • Ask a Question
  • Listen
  • Stay Connected

These three methods may seem simple but they have a big impact on making a survivor feel comforted and connected.

Asking “How’s it going?” and really caring about the answer is powerful. Helping support and care for eachother is an important aspect.

Listening is also very important. Listen without having your own agenda. Being heard helps. Acknowledgment makes all the difference. Some things you can say to people who have experienced harm: “I believe you.”, “Thank you for sharing this with me.”, “I am sorry you are experiencing this.”.

You’re also listening for what the person thinks about risks, priorities, and concerns. Bottom line: you are listening to hear what the person is experiencing, what they want, and how you can help.

Lastly, stay connected. It can take a long time for things to get better, and it can be difficult to hang in there through it all. But staying connected is one of the most helpful things you can do. When someone is isolated, the abuser has far more power and control over their lives. You do not need to know all the answers or agree with every decision to be helpful. Instead, consistently show up, take on what you can, and ask for help with things that are difficult for you.

For more information on how to support someone experiencing abuse click on the following link:

REMEMBER: If you need help, talk to your trusted people and reach out to experts. If you need to take a break, take it. Here at ATVP we are available 24/7 to help support you and your loved ones. If you need support please call our hotline: (509) 332-HELP | (208) 883-HELP.


For Survivors:

For Family and Friends: