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On this page:

Domestic Violence

DV: What is Abuse?

of Abuse

Cycle Theory of Domestic Violence

Personal Safety Plan

Sexual Assault

What is SA?

What to do after a sexual assault

Normal Reactions to Sexual Assault

SA Response Teams


Help Lines

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Definitions: What are Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault?

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Domestic Violence: What Is Abuse?

Abuse is defined as an intentional, repeated act by an intimate partner or family member
that causes physical, sexual, emotional, economic or spiritual harm, usually in a predictive cycle.

You can be in an abusive relationship even if:

• You are not physically abused.
• You are not legally married to your abusive partner.
• You are in a lesbian relationship with someone who abuses you.
• You have formally or legally ended your relationship, but your ex-partner continues to behave in an abusive manner toward you.
•You are not living with your partner, but he/she does abuse you physically, sexually, emotionally, economically or spiritually.
• You are passive or submissive to avoid the abuse.

You may be in an abusive relationship, if you have any of these thoughts:

• I am afraid of the person I live with.
• When I got hit, it wasn't so bad, but now the children get hit, too.
• I am tired of being humiliated in front of others.
• The only way to stop the abuse is to kill my partner.
• I cannot take another beating; I think I'll die next time.
• I was never forced to have sex before. Now I have been threatened and raped.
• I want to be safe in my home.
Abuse takes many different forms. It can be physical, emotional, sexual, economic or spiritual. It can happen every day or every once in a while. It can occur in public places, like a store or a park, or in private places, like your home or your car. It can leave you with bruises and bumps on your body or leave you with a hurt inside that no one can see.


Characteristics of Abuse Physical Abuse

Does your partner:

• Hit, slap, shove, bite, cut, choke, kick, burn or spit on you?
• Throw things at you?
• Confine or hold you against your will?
• Hurt you or threaten you with a deadly weapon like a gun, knife, chain, hammer, belt, scissors, brick or other heavy objects?
• Neglect you when you are sick or pregnant?
• Endanger you or your children by driving in a wild or reckless way?
• Refuse to give you money for food or clothes?

Emotional Abuse

Does your partner say or do things that embarrass, humiliate, ridicule or insult you with statements such as: • You're stupid, dirty, crazy.

• You're a fat, lazy, ugly whore.
• You can't do anything right.
• You are not a good mother.
• Nobody would ever want you.
You don't deserve anything.Or actions such as: • Controlling your phone calls.
• Threatening to hurt you or your children.
• Abandoning you in dangerous places or locking you out of the house.
• Refusing to give affection as a way of punishing you.
• Refusing to let you work, have friends, go out or talk on the phone.
• Forcing you to sign over property or give up your personal belongings.
• Bragging about love affairs.
• Accusing you of having love affairs or flirting with others.
• Manipulating you with lies, contradictions, promises or false hopes.
• Using your immigration status to threaten or manipulate you.

Sexual Abuse

Does your partner:

• Force you to have sex when you don't want to?
• Force you to do sexual acts that you don't like?
• Criticize your sexual performance?
• Force you to have sex with other people or force you to watch others having sex?
• Have sex that you consider sadistic or painful?

Financial Abuse

Does your partner:

• Make you work and turn over you check?
• Not allow you to work or go to school?
• Harass you at work causing difficulties with your supervisor?
• Have all the accounts in their name only?
• Not tell you how much money you have in your accounts?

Spiritual Abuse

Does your partner:

• Use your spiritual beliefs to justify the abuse?
• Not allow you to practice your own spiritual beliefs?
• Belittle your spiritual beliefs?

Destructive Acts

Does you partner:

• Break furniture, flood rooms, ransack or dump garbage at your home?
• Slash tires, break windows, steal or tamper with parts of your car to break it down?
• Harm or kill pets to punish or scare you?
• Destroy your clothes, jewelry, family pictures or other personal possessions that are important to you?

Only your partner can stop the abuse. Only your partner can control his/her anger.


Cycle Theory of Domestic Violence

Phase I: Tension Building

• Experiences increased tension.
• Takes more control.
• May increase use of alcohol or drugs.
• May withdraw emotionally.

• Tries to minimize problems.
• Acts compliant, on good behavior.
• Denies anger.
• May withdraw emotionally or physically.
• Has a feeling of "walking on eggshells."

For both victim and batterer, the tension becomes unbearable.

Phase II. Violent

• Exhibits unpredictable behavior.
• Claims loss of control.
• Is highly abusive.

• Feels helpless and trapped.
• Is traumatized.
• May react passively or fight back.

This phase usually lasts from two to twenty-four hours, but may continue occasionally for days or weeks.

Phase III: Calm

• Is often apologetic and attentive.
• Is manipulative ("If you drop the TPO, Išll give you the car, give you a divorce, stop drinking, go to counseling, never hit you again," etc. etc. etc.)
• May cry, send flowers, buy gifts.
• Can attempt to reawaken old dreams by saying, "We'll take that trip we planned" or "We'll move and start over in a new place."

• Experiences mixed feelings.
• May feel guilty, responsible, ashamed.
• Considers reconciliation.

In some relationships there are shortened calm periods, or sometimes no calm period at all. The cycle becomes tension building to violence, back and forth, again and again. The phases of violence can also occur in a different order than started above.


Personal Safety Plan

The following strategies can be used to create a plan to increase safety and prepare in advance for the possibility of further violence. Although you do not have control over your partner's violence, you do have a choice about how to respond to him/her and how to best get yourself and your children to safety.

Safety during a violent incident

I can try some of these safety strategies to get to safety or to get help quickly:

A. I can keep my purse and car keys ready and put them in a safe space in order to leave quickly.

B. I can inform friends and family members about the violence and request they call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my house.
C. I can teach my children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department. (Be careful about placing responsibility on children.) D. I can pick a code word so my friends and children will call for help.

Safety when preparing to leave:

A battered partner frequently leaves the residence shared with the abuser. Leaving must be done with a careful plan in order to increase safety. Abusers often strike back when they believe that their partner is leaving the relationship. I can use some or all of the following safety strategies:

A. I will keep copies of important documents, such as social security, birth certificates, and shot records, in a safe place.

B. I will open an individual savings account to increase my independence and to establish credit.

When I leave the residence:

I can follow these safety strategies to increase the safety of my new residence:

A. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.

B. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, (not generally recommended due to fire escape hazards) poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.

C. I can purchase rope ladders ("fire ladders" are available from hardware and discount stores) to be used for escape from second floor windows.

D. I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house (motion detectors).

E. I will tell people who take care of my children which individuals have permission to pick up my children and that my partner is not permitted to do so.

F. I will ask the local Sheriff/Police Department to perform a home safety check and to make recommendations.


Sexual Assault: What is Sexual Assault?

Sexual assault is a general term that encompasses a variety of unwanted sexual activities. Rape is defined as sexual intercourse without consent. It is illegal to have sex with an adult — even one's spouse — without her or his consent. If someone engages in sexual intercourse with an individual that is incapable of giving consent due to a disability or being intoxicated or unconscious, a rape has occurred. Rape is only one form of sexual assault, and any type of a sexual act that is unwanted can be considered sexual assault.

Why is it important to get help right away?

A sexual assault victim may experience a myriad of emotions including shock, disbelief, denial, fear, embarrassment, shame, guilt, depression, powerlessness, anxiety and anger. Additionally a sexual assault victim may have been exposed to sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and pregnancy. It is important to receive medical care and support immediately after an assault has occurred to ensure that medical issues are addressed, evidence is collected and to aid in the healing process. Pretending the sexual assault didnšt happen, will not make it go away.


What to do after a rape or assault:

• Get to a safe place

• Call 911 or the Community Help Line (530-546-3241 or 530-587-3101 or 775-833-3241) for support and information.
• Remember, it is not your fault, regardless of your actions, it is not your fault. The rapist, even if you know them, committed the crime. • Donšt shower, bathe, douche, use the toilet, wash your hands, brush your teeth, eat, drink, change clothes or straighten up the area.

• Report the rape to the police as soon as possible.

If you are an adult, this decision is yours. Remember that reporting attacks is an important part of ending violence against women. However, you should feel okay and comfortable with whatever decision you make.
• Get medical attention at an emergency room in a medical center.
Try to cooperate with medical personnel and police. They are trying to help you. You have a right to a rape crisis advocate from Tahoe Women's Services.
Call a friend or rape crisis center so that someone can be with you.
The police or hospital should call the local rape crisis center for you. They will send someone to be with you for support and information at the hospital and police station.
Later — get continued help and support
It's normal to feel confusion, anger, guilt and other strong emotions after a rape. For help in dealing with these feelings, you can contact Tahoe Women's Services or a school counselor.


Normal reactions to sexual assault:

Rape is a degrading, humiliating experience. Frequent reactions are:

Shock: I feel so numb. Why am I so calm? Why can't I cry? Why me?

Disbelief: Did it really happen? It wasn't really rape.

Shame: I feel so dirty, like there is something wrong with me now.

Guilt: I feel as I did something to make this happen to me. If I had only...

Depression: How am I going to go on? I feel so tired and hopeless. Will I ever feel in control again?

Disorientation: I can't sit still. I'm having trouble getting through the day. I'm just overwhelmed! I keep having flashbacks.

Fear: Will I get pregnant? Will I get AIDS? Am I safe? Can people tell what's happened to me? Will I ever want to be intimate again? Will I ever get over this? I'm afraid I'm going crazy. I have nightmares that terrify me.

Anxiety: I'm a nervous wreck! I have trouble breathing. (Anxiety is often expressed in physical symptoms like difficulty breathing, muscle tension, sleep disturbance, change in eating habits, nausea and stomach problems.)

Anger: I want to KILL him!


Sexual Assault Response Teams Available to Help Survivors

Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) consisting of nurse examiners, law enforcement officers, prosecutors and rape crisis advocates are available in Washoe, Placer and Nevada Counties. The SART teams were created to provide immediate and on-going support for the victim of a sexual assault and to improve prosecution rates. Although team members have different functions within SART, the members work together to ensure the needs of the survivor are met.

What happens when a sexual assault victim calls for help?

Typically the sexual assault victim calls 911, Tahoe Women's Service's Help Line, or may go directly to the hospital to report the sexual assault. A law enforcement officer then takes the initial statement and calls in an investigator who determines if there is a need for an evidentiary exam. If the officer believes that a sexual assault has occurred, and the victim consents to the exam, the victim is then notified of her/his right to a rape crisis advocate and another support person of her/his choosing. At this point, the law enforcement officer calls TWS to let the agency know that a victim is in need of an advocate at the hospital. A trained rape crisis advocate from TWS meets the victim at the hospital to provide advocacy and support. The nurse and officer interview the victim in order to gather evidence and information necessary for the exam as well as to locate and arrest the suspect. The nurse then conducts the evidentiary exam with the advocate present. The advocate provides counseling and support and ensures that the victim has a safe place to stay the night as well as clean clothes and transportation. The advocate then contacts the victim in the next few days to continue advocacy and schedule additional counseling if requested. The advocate continues to provide support for the victim throughout the criminal justice process.
What hospitals perform the evidentiary exam?

After years of hard work, the Placer and Nevada County SART team members have come together to create a protocol that allows sexual assault victims to receive the evidentiary exam at Tahoe Forest Hospital. Before this groundbreaking agreement, Placer County victims were transported to Auburn for the exam. Distance and inclement weather discouraged victims from getting the proper care and support. The Nevada County SART Team paid for the training of three nurses to become Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) at Tahoe Forest Hospital. In addition, Placer County hosted a training for all nurses, law enforcement officers, district attorneys and advocates. Tahoe Womenšs Services staff members attended the 4-day training to enhance their skills in advocacy. The Office of Criminal Justice Planning provided new equipment for the exams including advanced camera equipment that will allow nurses at Tahoe Forest Hospital to consult with the UC Davis Medical Center. If the sexual assault occurs in Washoe County, the victim is transported to Washoe Medical Center or Saint Mary's Hospital in Reno. A TWS advocate meets the victim in Reno to provide support and counseling.


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