About Domestic Violence

Feeling Loved?  Respected? …. Afraid?

Domestic violence involves a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to exert power and control over another individual in the context of an intimate or family relationship. On this page, you’ll find helpful information on:

  • Determining if Your Relationship Is Abusive
  • Seeking Help From Your Abusive Relationship
  • Keeping Your Children Safe
  • Helping Someone Else in an Abusive Relationship
  • Seeking Help for Immigrant Victims

For more information on domestic violence and its victims:

Determining if Your Relationship Is Abusive

It may be difficult for you to determine if you’re in an abusive relationship. If you’re not sure and need help, you can:

  • Call a domestic violence helpline to speak with a trained volunteer or staff person about your relationship
  • Read The Facts About Domestic Violence to learn about the different behavioral characteristics of domestic abuse
  • Use the Power and Control Wheels as a tool to help you determine a pattern of abusive behavior

Seeking Help From Your Abusive Relationship

If you need a safe way to get help with your abusive relationship, call one of the domestic violence helplines to speak with trained staff/volunteers who will assess your level of danger and help keep you as safe as possible by providing you with information on:

  • Emergency shelters
  • Housing
  • Legal representation
  • Counseling and support groups
  • Medical care
  • Caring for your children in your home

Abusive partners often become more violent when they realize their partner may end the relationship or plan to leave, so when you reach out for help, you must use a phone that your abuser can’t access and/or a computer with activity that can’t be tracked (read more about Internet safety).

Keeping Your Children Safe

One of the most powerful actions you can take for your children is to get help for yourself. Children will do better if they have a strong, healthy parent and a home filled with consistent, loving relationships.

For more information on keeping your children safe, reach out to a helpline counselor to connect with a local counseling center that understands domestic violence and its impact on kids and teens. The center can help you understand your children’s needs and regain your ability to talk to them about the violence they see and hear, but too often, don’t fully understand.

Helping Someone Else in an Abusive Relationship

It may be challenging to help a loved one — be it a friend, family member, co-worker or neighbor — in an abusive relationship, especially if the individual doesn’t realize the relationship is abusive. The individual may:

  • Love this person and feel committed to staying in the relationship
  • Make excuses for the abuser’s behavior or claim responsibility for the abuse
  • Leave the abuser and return several times before ending the relationship or remain in the relationship for years

If you want to remain supportive and be helpful to this individual, contact a helpline or see a counselor for advice. You can also visit Break the Silence for more helpful suggestions.

Seeking Help for Immigrant Victims

Many agencies focus on assisting immigrant domestic violence victims and their family members. These agencies understand the specific issues that arise with immigrant domestic violence victims, including:

  • Concerns about their legal status or mixed legal status of family members
  • The fact that many countries don’t view domestic violence as a crime
  • Victims dealing with depression or post-traumatic stress disorder due to many traumatic experiences

Doorways for Women and Families

24-hour Hotline


Doorways provides shelter and services to individuals and families in Arlington, VA. If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in our community, call the hotline for information and support. Please call 911 if you are experiencing a life-threatening situation. Not in Arlington? Please contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 / 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or visit www.thehotline.org to chat online. Doorways for Women and Families strives to end homelessness and family and intimate partner violence by offering:

  • Safe shelter and housing
  • Life-changing support services
  • Community advocacy

The Doorways Safehouse is not just a safe place to stay during a crisis, but a doorway to a better life for the long term. Doorways offers domestic violence victims:

  • Counseling
  • Financial education
  • Support groups
  • Job advocacy
  • Assistance in finding permanent housing
  • Weekly visits by a public health nurse

For an overview of Doorways’ Domestic Violence Program, go to Safehouse and 24-Hour Hotline.

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