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Frequently Asked Questions



Welcome to our Domestic Violence FAQ page. Here, we aim to provide clear answers to common questions about domestic violence. Our goal is to offer guidance and support to those affected by abuse, while emphasizing the importance of seeking assistance.

Does HSCADV provide shelter or advocacy services?

No. HSCADV does not provide direct services (such as emergency shelter or advocacy) to those who are experiencing domestic violence. If you are looking for such services, please go to our Find Help section to locate your nearest service provider.

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is a pattern of abusive behavior used by someone to gain and maintain power and control over their partner. Abusive behaviors can be in many forms such as physical, verbal, psychological, sexual, spiritual, and financial, and can happen in any relationship, regardless of whether the couple is married, dating, or separated.

What is stalking?

Stalking is defined as a pattern of behavior directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to fear for the person’s safety or the safety of others; or suffer substantial emotional distress. Stalking behaviors are commonly used as control tactics in abusive relationships.

What are the most common signs of domestic violence?

Every relationship is different and warning signs can vary. Here are some things you might see:

  • Abusive partners begin to control the way their partner lives their life, including telling them how to dress, whom to talk to, and where they can and cannot go.
  • A survivor may become isolated from friends and family and stop spending time with loved ones. An abusive partner may influence where a survivor goes and who they communicate with, and act out in jealousy or anger if a survivor gives time or attention to others. This can cause a survivor to lose access to other people, making it even more difficult to leave an abusive relationship.
  • Survivors may feel like they are “walking on eggshells,” or always acting cautiously because they are unsure what may lead to an escalation of violence. Similarly, abusive partners may manipulate the survivor into feeling responsible for any abuse they experience.
  • Abusive partners may insult or demean survivors in front of others, which can be an indication of what happens when they are alone together.

What does a healthy relationship look like?

Healthy relationships are characterized by equal power between partners. These relationships involve honesty, respect, accountability, and non-threatening behavior.

View our Guide to Healthy Relationships here.

Does “mutual abuse” exist?

No. Typically this question comes up when someone observes unhealthy behaviors from both/all partners in a relationship (which can happen), but domestic violence is defined by an imbalance of power and control, in which one person has power over the other. “Mutual abuse” allows the abusive partner to continue to avoid responsibility for their actions, shifting the blame onto the survivor. By manipulating a survivor into believing they’re at fault, the abusive partner continues to maintain control in the relationship.

How do I support a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence?

Don’t feel like you need to have all of the knowledge or information about domestic violence to help a loved one experiencing abuse. The most important thing you can do is be a nonjudgmental source of support. Read more about what you can do to support a survivor here.

Do domestic violence programs only support women?

No. Domestic violence programs support individuals of all gender identities because we know that people of all gender identities experience abuse. Every HSCADV member program offers different services, and all offer a variety of services for men, women, LGBTQ+, children, students, immigrants, and other populations. Learn more about programs and services available in your area on our Find Help page.