Educating Women, Children, and Families on Child Abuse and Domestic Violence

    Child Abuse

    Child abuse is often hidden. Abusers work hard to cover up the signs of abuse. Children are less likely to report it. Adults are always responsible for the safety of children. Learn about child abuse and what to do to protect children.

    Types of Child Abuse

    Any mistreatment of a minor child that results in a physical injury, sexual exploitation, psychological harm, emotional distress or death can be defined as child abuse. Child abuse also includes failing to provide for the needs of a child.

    Physical Abuse

    Physical Abuse means causing injury or pain to a child. It can be as simple as a slap or a shove, or as severe as a beating, burning or cutting. Usually, physical abuse happens on purpose, but not always. Abusive Head Trauma (AHT) or Shaken Baby Syndrome is a type of physical abuse.

    Sometimes parents do not know the boundaries between discipline and abuse, or they may lash out at their child in anger. In abuse, unlike discipline, the attacks are unpredictable, and the child is never sure what behavior will trigger an assault. The abuser uses fear of the assault to control the child’s behavior, and the abuse is triggered by the abuser’s anger.

    Emotional or Psychological Abuse

    Emotional abuse can be more damaging to the child than physical abuse. Emotional abuse can cause children to lose confidence in the world and for them to lose trust in others. It can take the form of threatening, shouting, name calling or withdrawing affection from the child.

    Sometimes, emotional and psychological abuse means forcing a child to live in an environment where they witness domestic violence or other violent acts. An emotionally abused child might be told they are worthless, lazy, ugly or stupid, and they come to believe this. It may even include forcing the child to witness the abuse of a pet or a sibling.

    Sexual Abuse

    Sexual abuse always affects a child’s emotional well-being as well as their physical health. It happens to boys and girls of every age. It might involve physical contact, forced oral sex or penetration, or non-contact abuse such as being made to witness sexual acts or view pornography.


    Child neglect is the most common form of child abuse. Neglect is a pattern of failing to provide for the basic needs of the child, including the emotional as well as physical, medical and educational needs. Sometimes adults use neglect to control the child’s behavior. At other times, the neglect is unintentional when parents do not understand the needs of children. Neglect also occurs when parents are too poor to provide for their children.

    Effects of Child Abuse

    Every kind of child abuse and neglect leaves a lasting scar on the child, and the costs of abuse and neglect are staggering. Abuse and neglect can damage a child’s sense of self-worth, their ability to engage in healthy adult relationships and to have a normal adult life at work, home, and school. Some of the effects include:

    • Lack of trust
    • Relationship problems
    • Fear of being controlled or abused by others
    • Unhealthy relationships
    • Feeling worthless or damaged
    • Fear of pursuing goals
    • Shame
    • Trouble controlling emotions
    • Anxiety
    • Depression
    • Anger management problems
    • Substance abuse problems
    • Attachment disorders
    • Slower than normal development

    Know the Numbers About Child Abuse and Neglect

    • A study by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that just one year of confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect is projected to cost $124 billion over the lifetime of those victims.
    • In a 12 month period studied by Child Abuse and Neglect, the International Journal, there were 1740 fatal child abuse cases and 579,000 non-fatal abuse and neglect cases.
    • Each death due to child abuse or neglect costs the United States approximately $1.3 million, almost all of which is the money that child would have earned in their lifetime if they had lived.
    • The lifetime cost for each victim of abuse or neglect who lives is over $200,000, approximately equal to the lifetime cost of care for someone who suffers a stroke.

    These costs are paid for by the public – the taxpayer – for the most part. They include:

    • Healthcare costs
    • Criminal justice costs
    • Child welfare costs
    • Special education costs
    • Productivity losses

    Often, the first consequence of child abuse and neglect are emotional and mental health problems. Sexual abuse often results in the most significant impairment.

    • Sexually abused children are at much higher risk for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and suicide attempts.
    • Symptoms of psychological problems from sexual abuse result in significant disruption in normal development and adult life.
    • Sexually abused children have a much higher incidence of behavioral problems such as physical aggression, non-compliance and being oppositional.
    • Sexually abused children are more likely to engage in risky behavior
    • Sexually abused children often display age-inappropriate sexual behavior.
    • Sexually abused children tend to perform lower on academic tests and memory assessments.
    • Sexually abused children are more likely to drop out of school
    • Sexually abused children are three to four times more likely to develop substance abuse problems beginning in childhood or early adolescence
    • Sexually abused children are three to five times more likely to engage in criminal behaviors as adolescents. They are also more likely to run away from home, have poor school performance and display behavioral problems while in school.
    • Sexually abused girls have a much higher rate of teen pregnancy. Sexually abused boys are also more likely to father a child as a teen.
    • Adults who were sexually abused are far more likely to report problems with drugs, alcohol and mental health than adults who were never abused
    • Sexually abused children are more likely to develop eating disorders as adults.
    • Childhood abuse and neglect are associated with physical health problems in adulthood.

    It is important to realize that while adult survivors of childhood abuse suffer these negative impacts as a group, many individual survivors do not face these consequences. Childhood abuse does not automatically sentence a person to an impaired life!

    • In 2013, 1520 child died as a result of abuse and neglect.
    • Approximately 679,000 children were victims of abuse and neglect
    • 3.1 million children received preventative services from Child Protective Services Agencies in the US in 2013
    • Children under 12 months of age have the highest rate of victimization at 23.1 per 1000 children in the national population of the same age
    • Of the abused or neglected children, nearly 80% were neglected, 18% were physically abused, and 9% were sexually abused.
    • Nearly 80% of fatal cases of abuse and neglect were caused by one or more of the child’s parents.

    The full text of Child Maltreatment 2013 is available online at

    2014 Full Child Advocacy Center Statistics

    Of the over 315,000 children served by Children’s Advocacy Centers around the US in 2014:

    • 116,940 children were ages 0 to 6 years
    • 115,959 children were ages 7 to 12 years
    • 81,025 children were ages 13 to 18 years
    • 205,438 children reported sexual abuse
    • 60,897 children reported physical abuse

    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children & Families. Child Maltreatment 2013.

    There were approximately 244,000 alleged offenders investigated for child mistreatment in 2014.

    • 154,529 were over age 18
    • 26,294 were between 13 and 17 years old
    • 20,040 were under age 13
    • 95,913 were the parent or step-parent of the victim
    • 127,358 were related or otherwise known to victim, but not a parent
    • 23,696 were a person the victim did not know

    National Children’s Alliance 2013 and 2014 national statistics collected from Children’s Advocacy Center members and available on the NCA website:


    A perpetrator of abuse is someone who has caused or knowingly allowed mistreatment of a child. If you see signs of being at risk of harming a child in yourself or someone else, it is important to seek help BEFORE a child is harmed.

    Some warning signs of a possible child abuser:

    • Anger and frustration, feeling like there is nowhere to turn for help.
    • Grew up in a home where violence or child abuse occurred
    • Very young parent or lacking parenting knowledge or skills
    • Feeling emotionally disconnected from one’s children
    • Seemingly impossible to meet the daily needs of the child
    • Constantly feeling overwhelmed
    • Other people expressing concern

    If you recognize these signs in yourself, please talk with a child abuse professional about how to get preventative help. Remember, the adult is always in control when it comes to causing harm to a child.


    Adults can take steps to prevent child abuse at any time. Just by educating yourself about child abuse is one step in preventing it. You are becoming aware of the issue and some of the signs of child abuse. This makes you a more protective adult.

    As many as nine out of ten children do no tell anyone that they are being abused, especially in cases of sexual abuse. This makes it very important for adults to recognize the behaviors that signal something may be wrong. If you are uncomfortable with something, say something.. You are the first defense in keeping children safe from abuse.

    Family factors and prevention of abuse:

    • No child is immune to child abuse or neglect
    • Children living with two married parents are at the lowest risk of abuse.
    • Children living without either parent i.e. in foster care are ten times more likely to be sexually abused than children living with both biological parents.
    • Girls are five times more likely to be victims of sexual abuse than males.
    • Children between the ages of 7 and 13 are at the highest risk for sexual abuse.
    • Children with physical, mental or learning disabilities are at much greater risk for all types of abuse and neglect than their non-disabled peers.
    • Children living with domestic violence are more likely to suffer abuse.
    • Children living with an alcoholic or addict are most often neglected and abused.
    • Untreated mental illness in a parent or caregiver is a frequent cause of child abuse.
    • Teen parents or parents who were abused as children often lack good parenting skills, placing them at risk to abuse their children.
    • Parents without a strong support system from family, friends and the community are at high risk of abusing or neglecting their children
    • Poverty, unemployment, and social isolation create stresses on the family that increases the risk of child abuse or neglect

    Warning Signs of Abuse and Neglect

    If child abuse or neglect occurs, intervention is most effective when it happens quickly. Child abuse can be very subtle, and it is easy to miss the warning signs. Remember, though, that just because a warning sign is seen does not mean abuse or neglect has occurred. It is important to look for patterns of behavior and warning signs.

    Warning Signs of Emotional Abuse

    • Child is very withdrawn, anxious about doing something wrong, fearful
    • Child has extremes of behavior (i.e. compliant or demanding, passive or aggressive)
    • Child does not seem attached to parent or caretaker
    • Child acts too adult (i.e. caretaker of other children) or too infantile for their age
    • Sudden changes in behavior or personality, or regression to baby like behavior

    Warning Signs of Physical Abuse

    • Child often has unexplained cuts, bruises, welts or other injuries
    • Child often seems watchful or “on alert,” as if they are waiting for something bad to happen
    • Child’s injuries have a pattern such as a hand or a belt
    • Child shies away from touch, flinches at sudden movements, or reports they are afraid to go home
    • Child wears clothing to cover injuries i.e. long sleeved shirts on hot days to cover bruises.

    Warning Signs of Neglect

    • Child wears poorly-fitting, dirty clothing or clothes that are not appropriate for weather
    • Child’s hygiene is consistently bad i.e. unwashed, dirty/matted hair, body odor
    • Child has untreated illnesses or physical injuries
    • Child is often left alone or unsupervised or is allowed to play in unsafe environments
    • Child is often late to school or misses school

    Warning Signs of Sexual Abuse

    • Child has trouble or pain when walking or sitting, or infant has blood in diaper
    • Child does not want to change clothes in front of others
    • Child does not want to participate in physical activities
    • Child has knowledge or interest in sexual activities inappropriate to their age
    • Child acts in a seductive or sexual manner inappropriate to their age
    • Child has a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or is pregnant
    • Child runs away from home

    What to Do

    Helping a child deal with abuse or neglect is difficult but important. It starts with teaching your children how to protect themselves from abuse, learning about touch and about how to talk to trusted adults. Protecting children from abuse also means showing them that you can be safe – you do not live in an environment where abuse is tolerated.

    If a child comes to you and discloses abuse, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and confused. However, you can make an enormous difference in the life of that child by taking steps to halt the abuse early. The best thing you can do is to remain calm and provide unconditional support and reassurance.

    • Avoid denial in your actions and words.
    • Do not show disgust or shock, as the child may be afraid to continue talking.
    • Do not interrogate the child. Let the child tell their story in their own words.
    • Reassure the child they did nothing wrong and the abuse is not their fault.
    • Let the child know that you take what they said seriously.
    • Always put safety first. If you feel the safety of the child or yourself is threatened, contact law enforcement or the child abuse hotline immediately.

    Most child sexual abuse occurs when children are in isolated activities with an adult, or when older children have unsupervised access to younger children.

    • Make sure multiple adults are supervising children whenever possible.
    • Monitor children’s use of the Internet, used by many offenders to lure kids into physical contact.
    • Talk openly with other parents, school personnel, program administrators and legislators about policies that protect children.
    • Drop into day care, babysitters, and school at unexpected times
    • Talk with your child after activities with other adults.
    • Be mindful of any changes in your child’s mood or behavior
    • Talk openly with your children about child sexual abuse, child abuse, and other issues. Make sure they know – by your actions and your words – that you are a safe person to talk with if they have concerns.
    • Report any instances of suspected abuse, whether the child is yours or someone else’s.

    How to Report

    The Child Protective Services (CPS) agency in your state may be called something different, but regardless of the name it is the center of child protection efforts. They are required by law to investigate all reports of abuse and neglect, along with law enforcement, health care providers, mental health agencies and others.

    If you have any suspicion that a child is being harmed, it is vital that you make a report to CPS. In every state, people can make reports of suspected child abuse or neglect anonymously. Your name and address will never be revealed to the family.

    How to Get Help for Yourself

    Breaking the cycle of child abuse

    If you are the survivor of child abuse or neglect, having your own children may be challenging. It may trigger strong feelings and memories about your abuse. You CAN learn ways to manage your emotions and break old patterns of abuse.

    Remember, you are the most important person in your children’s world. Help and support are available to you.

    • Learn age-appropriate child behaviors and have realistic expectations of children.
    • Develop strong parenting skills and discipline techniques.
    • Take care of yourself by getting rest and using support systems
    • Get help from professionals – therapists, parent educators or others
    • Learn to recognize and control your emotions

    Domestic Violence/Abuse

    Anyone can be the victim of domestic violence and abuse. Recognizing the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it and getting help. No one needs to live in daily fear of the person they love.

    Why Does Domestic Violence Occur?

    Domestic violence is about control over another person by whatever means necessary. Abuse might involve emotional or financial manipulation and abuse, psychological intimidation, physical threats or physical violence, or even sexual abuse or rape. Domestic abuse is more likely to occur when one partner was raised in an abusive home, or where mental illness or substance abuse is an issue.


    Domestic abuse occurs when one person who lives with another under the same roof tries to dominate and control the other person. It can include physical violence, emotional and psychological abuse, financial abuse and more. The consequences of domestic abuse can be anxiety, depression, feelings of helplessness and isolation, physical injury or death.

    Physical Abuse

    Most people think of physical abuse when talking about domestic violence. Physical assault or battery, causing injury to another person or the threat to do so are all parts of physical abuse. Sexual abuse and marital rape are also forms of physical domestic violence. Even a push, shove or slap is physical violence and is a crime.

    Emotional and Verbal Abuse

    The threats and verbal assaults may not have led to physical violence, yet, but these forms of domestic abuse can be just as frightening and harmful as a physical confrontation. Name calling, belittling, blaming and shaming, intimidating, isolation and controlling behaviors are all forms of emotional and verbal abuse.

    Financial or Economic Abuse

    Because an abuser’s goal is to control, they often use money and economic power as a weapon. Economic or financial abuse includes:

    • Tightly controlling the family finances
    • Not allowing access to money or credit cards
    • Making a person account for every penny spent
    • Withholding necessities (food, clothes, medicine, shelter)
    • Restricting another adult to an allowance
    • Not allowing someone to work or choose their own career
    • Causing someone to miss work or interfering with their work
    • Stealing money from the other person

    There is no particular age, gender or social rank that is more likely to be abused or be an abuser. It is impossible to tell who is an abuser from the outside. Most often, women with children are the targets of abuse because they are in a position of being financially and emotionally dependent on their spouse or partner. Regardless of the kind of abuse you might have suffered or dealt, help is available.

    Male Victims

    Men experience domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault, but they may not report it for fear of being shamed or not believed. However, support for male victims is just as important as it is for women. All of the information on this page applies equally to men and women. Many local programs and state domestic violence coalitions assist male victims.

    Data suggests that up to one in three men may be victims of domestic violence. Men often fear to report incidents because they believe police will think they are the perpetrator and not the victim. Abusive women engage in the same behaviors as do abusive men.

    Signs of an Abusive Relationship

    Answer the questions below. Count the “yes” answers. The more of them you have, the more likely it is that you are in an abusive relationship.

    Do you:

    1. Often feel afraid of your partner?
    2. Avoid talking about certain things out of fear of angering your partner?
    3. Believe you must deserve to be hurt or treated badly?
    4. Sometimes wonder if you are crazy?
    5. Feel helpless or emotionally numb inside?

    Does your partner:

    1. Humiliate you or yell at you?
    2. Put you down or criticize you?
    3. Treat you badly enough that you are embarrassed for your family and friends to see?
    4. Put down or ignore your accomplishments and opinions?
    5. Blame you when they become abusive?
    6. See you as their property or a sex object, rather than as a person?

    Does your partner:

    1. Have a severe or unpredictable temper?
    2. Ever hurt you, or threaten to hurt or kill you?
    3. Threaten to hurt or take away your children?
    4. Threaten to kill themselves if you leave?
    5. Force you to have sex or to do sexual things against your will?
    6. Destroy your belongings?
    7. Harm pets?

    Does your partner:

    1. Ever act excessively possessive or jealous?
    2. Ever try to control where you go, what you do or who you see?
    3. Ever try to keep you from seeing or contacting friends and family?
    4. Ever limit your access to the car, a phone or money?
    5. Constantly check up on you when you are out?

    The most telling sign of an abusive relationship is when you feel like you have to “walk on eggshells” around your partner because you never know what will set off an explosion. If this is the case, chances are good you are in an abusive relationship.

    Know the Numbers

    • Although both men and women can be abused and be abusers, nearly 95% of reported domestic violence victims are women.
    • Over 50% of all women will experience some physical violence in an intimate relationship. For up to 30% of those women, the violence will be ongoing and regular.
    • A domestic battery crime occurs approximately every 15 seconds in the U.S.


    It is important to remember these things about people who commit acts of domestic violence:

    • They are engaging in abusive behavior to maintain total control over you.
    • They don’t play fair. They will use any means necessary to maintain control.
    • Violent, abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice, and not due to loss of control
    • If you report the crime, they will do anything possible to get you to drop the charges.
    • Abusers are very good at making excuses for their behavior. Their favorite excuse is that somehow the victim “caused” the behavior.
    • Abusers can control their behavior.
    • Abusers pick and choose who to abuse – usually the people closest to them.
    • Abusers choose when and where to abuse – usually when no one else is around
    • Abusers can stop their behavior when it benefits them.
    • Physical abusers often direct their blows where they will not show.

    Lethality Assessments

    Too often, victims of domestic violence return to their abuser again and again, believing things will be better. All too often, it is worse. If you are in a violent relationship, ask yourself these questions and think about the risks associated with each behavior. Each yes answer indicates a higher risk that the abuser is likely to increase their violence, possibly to the point of murdering you or others in the home.

    Is it worth the risk to return?

    1. Has the abuser ever threatened to kill you, your children, your family, or themselves? Threats to kill are one of the strongest risk factors consistently linked to the murder of a partner in domestic violence cases.
    2. Has the abuser ever talked about having ideas, fantasies or dreams about killing you or anyone else? This is also a risk factor linked to homicide, and the risk is greater if the abuser is very specific about plans or methods.
    3. Has the abuser made more than one threat? How often? Daily? Monthly? What are the threats? An increase in the frequency of threats indicates greater risk.
    4. Are weapons available to the abuser, or has the abuser used weapons in the past (guns, knives, baseball bats, etc.)? Access to weapons indicates a strong risk for murder.
    5. Has the abuser ever used their hands or an object (rope, etc.) to choke, strangulate or try to suffocate you? This is another high-risk factor for murder.
    6. Has the abuser had a history of arson or making threats of arson/fire setting?
    7. Does the abuser make statements of ownership of you, for example, “If I can’t have you, no one else can,” or “Death before divorce?” When a victim leaves and abusive relationship, this can be a very dangerous time, especially when the abuser has made statements like these.
    8. Has there been violence when you have tried to leave the relationship before? A victim leaving a relationship indicates the abuser has lost control over them.
    9. Does the abuser depend heavily on you, put you above others or try to isolate you from the rest of the community?
    10. Has the abuser ever held you against your will, taken you hostage or stalked you?
    11. Is the abuser depressed or feeling hopeless? This is a serious risk factor for murder-suicide in domestic violence cases.
    12. Has the abuser ever physically abused you during pregnancy? Frequently, domestic violence escalates from verbal to physical during pregnancy.
    13. Does the abuser frequently use alcohol or other drugs? Impaired judgment can increase the risk of serious physical assault or murder.

    What to Do

    If you see any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.

    People who are being emotionally or verbally abused might:

    • Appear afraid or anxious to please their partner
    • Go along with everything their partner says and does
    • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing
    • Receive frequent, harassing phone calls from their partner
    • Talk about their partner’s temper, jealousy, or possessiveness

    People who are being physically abused may:

    • Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of “accidents.”
    • Frequently miss work, school, or social occasions, without explanation
    • Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses indoors)

    People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

    • Be restricted from seeing family and friends
    • Rarely go out in public without their partner
    • Have limited access to money, credit cards, or the car

    People who are being psychologically abused may:

    • Have very low self-esteem, even if they used to be confident
    • Show major personality changes (e.g. an outgoing person becomes withdrawn)
    • Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal

    Speak up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse. You may be the one person who is a lifeline to the domestic violence victim. Talk to them privately to let them know you are concerned. Point out the specific things that make you worry. Tell them you are there for them if they need to talk. Reassure them that you will help in whatever way you can.

    How to Help Yourself

    People who have never been in abusive relationships do not understand the difficulties of leaving. Ending any relationship is hard, and most victims of abuse have been isolated from family and friends, emotionally beaten, financially drained and physically threatened or harmed.

    If you are the victim who is trying to decide whether to leave or stay, your emotions are probably all over the place. Fear, uncertainty, and indecision are common. You might blame yourself, feel weak or embarrassed, or want to stay some of the times. Do not let yourself get trapped by guilt or blame. Your safety is most important.

    If You Are Abused, Remember:

    • The abuse is not your fault
    • You did not cause the abuse
    • You deserve respect
    • You deserve safety and happiness
    • Your children deserve safety and happiness
    • You are not alone. Help is available.

    Signs That Your Abuser is NOT Changing:

    • They minimize the abuse or deny how serious it is
    • They continue to blame others for their behavior.
    • They claim you’re the one who is abusive.
    • They pressure you to go to couple’s counseling.
    • They tell you that you owe them another chance.
    • You have to push them to stay in treatment.
    • They say they can’t change unless you stay and support them
    • They try to get sympathy from you, your children, or your family and friends.
    • They expect something from you in exchange for getting help.
    • They pressure you to make decisions about the relationship.

    Prepare for emergencies

    • Know your abuser’s red flags. Be alert for clues that your abuser is getting upset and may explode in anger or violence. Come up with several believable reasons you can use to leave the house (both during the day and at night) if you feel trouble brewing.
    • Identify safe areas in the house. Know where to go when your abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed spaces without exits like closets or bathrooms, or rooms with weapons like the kitchen. Go to a room with a phone and an outside door or window if possible
    • Establish a code word, phrase, or signal you can use to let your children, friends, neighbors, or co-workers know when you are in danger. When you use the code, they should call the police.

    Make an Escape Plan

    • Be ready to leave the house at a moment’s notice. Keep the car fueled and facing the driveway exit. Keep the driver’s door unlocked. Hide a spare car key where you can get it quickly. Stash emergency cash, clothing, and important phone numbers and documents in a safe place, such as at a friend’s house.
    • Practice how to escape safely and quickly. Rehearse your escape plan so you know what to do when you are under attack. If you have children, have them practice the escape plan also.
    • Memorize a list of emergency contact phone numbers. Ask several trusted people if you can contact them if you need a ride, a place to stay, or help contacting the police. Memorize their phone numbers, as well as the numbers to the local domestic violence shelter and the domestic abuse hotline.

    If You Stay

    If you decide to stay with your abusive partner for the time being, do your best to protect your children and yourself.

    • Make contact with the domestic violence/sexual assault program in your area. They provide a range of support programs and information whether you stay in the relationship or decide to leave.
    • Build as strong a support system as your partner allows. Stay involved with people and activities outside the home and encourage your children to do so, as well.
    • Be kind to yourself. Work on developing a positive way of looking at yourself and talking to yourself. Use affirmations to counter the negative comments you get from the abuser. Give yourself time to do things you enjoy.
    • You may be afraid to leave or ask for help because you are afraid of what will happen if your abuser discovers your activities. This is a natural and legitimate concern. Take precautions to stay safe and keep your activities secret from your abuser. While you are seeking help for domestic abuse and violence, make sure to cover your tracks on the phone and computer.

    Domestic Violence Shelters

    A domestic violence shelter may be a building or apartment complex where victims of abuse can hide from their abusers. The address of such shelters is confidential as part of keeping abusers from finding their victims.

    Shelters usually have space for parents as well as children. They provide a safe place to live while helping you find a permanent place to live and the things you need to start a new life. The shelter will be able to refer you to other services in your community, including:

    • Legal help
    • Counseling
    • Support groups
    • Services for your children
    • Employment programs
    • Health-related services
    • Educational opportunities
    • Financial assistance

    If you go to a shelter, you do not have to give any identifying information about yourself. If you choose to give your name, this information is kept confidential. Many shelters allow residents to use a fake name to help keep abusers from locating them.

    Protecting Yourself After You’ve Left

    You need to stay safe after you’ve left an abusive relationship. You may need to move so your abuser cannot find you, and your children may have to change schools. If you stay in the same area, you should change your routine. For instance, take a different route to work and avoid places where your abuser might try to find you. Find new places to shop or run errands, and keep a cell phone with you at all times.

    • Always get an unlisted phone number and have caller ID on all phone numbers.
    • Use a P.O. Box rather than your home address for correspondence
    • Cancel all bank and credit cards you shared with your abuser. Open a new bank account at a different bank.
    • Have a safety plan for your new home, including escape routes and memorized emergency contact numbers.
    • Get legal advice, and go to court for a protection order against your abuser. Keep a copy with you at all times. Give a copy to your child’s school along with a photo of your abuser.
    • Stay in touch with the domestic violence support organization, and continue with any services such as therapy.

    Reporting and Prosecuting Domestic Violence

    Restraining Orders

    You are entitled to get a protective order or restraining order against your abuser. Police can only enforce the order if someone violates it AND if someone reports the violation. This means you must be endangered, and you must call the police for them to help you.

    You need to research how protection orders are enforced. Will the abuser be given a ticket or taken to jail? If police only talk with the abuser and release them, this may give the abuser a reason to try and retaliate against you. Do not let a restraining order make you feel completely secure.

    Child Abuse Reporting Hotlines (all states)

    1-888-PREVENT (1-888-773-8368) – Stop It Now

    1-800-656-HOPE – Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN)

    Each State designates specific agencies to receive and investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect. Typically, this responsibility is carried out by child protective services (CPS) within a Department of Social Services, Department of Human Resources, or Division of Family and Children Services. In some States, police departments may also receive reports of child abuse or neglect.

    In most cases, the toll-free numbers listed below are only accessible from within the State listed. If calling from out-of-State, use the local (toll) number listed. Also listed below are links to State websites, which can provide additional information.


    Local (toll): (334) 242-9500


    Toll-Free: (800) 478-4444


    Toll-Free: (888) SOS-CHILD (888-767-2445)


    Toll-Free: (800) 482-5964





    Local (toll): (303) 866-5932



    TDD: (800) 624-5518

    Toll-Free: (800) 842-2288



    Toll-Free: (800) 292-9582


    District of Columbia

    Local (toll): (202) 671-SAFE (202-671-7233)



    Toll-Free: (800) 96-ABUSE (800-962-2873)





    Local (toll): (808) 832-5300



    Toll-Free: (800) 926-2588


    Toll-Free: (800) 252-2873

    Local (toll): (217) 524-2606



    Toll-Free: (800) 800-5556



    Toll-Free: (800) 362-2178



    Toll-Free: (800) 922-5330



    Toll-Free: (800) 752-6200


    Toll-Free: 1-855-4LA-KIDS (1-855-452-5437)


    TTY: (800) 963-9490

    Toll-Free: (800) 452-1999





    Toll-Free: (800) 792-5200



    Toll-Free: (855) 444-3911




    Toll-Free: (800) 222-8000

    Local (toll): (601) 359-4991



    Toll-Free: (800) 392-3738

    Local (toll): (573) 751-3448


    Toll-Free: (866) 820-5437


    Toll-Free: (800) 652-1999



    Toll-Free: (800) 992-5757

    Local (toll): (775) 684-4400

    New Hampshire

    Toll-Free: (800) 894-5533

    Local (toll): (603) 271-6556


    New Jersey

    TDD: (800) 835-5510

    TTY: (800) 835-5510

    Toll-Free: (877) 652-2873


    New Mexico

    Toll-Free: (800) 797-3260

    Local (toll): (505) 841-6100


    New York

    TDD: (800) 369-2437

    Toll-Free: (800) 342-3720

    Local (toll): (518) 474-8740


    North Carolina


    North Dakota




    Contact the county Public Children Services Agency using the list above


    Toll-Free: (800) 522-3511





    Toll-Free: (800) 932-0313


    Puerto Rico

    Toll-Free: (800) 981-8333

    Local (toll): (787) 749-1333

    Rhode Island

    Toll-Free: (800) RI-CHILD (800-742-4453)


    South Carolina

    Local (toll): (803) 898-7318


    South Dakota

    Local (toll): (605) 773-3227



    Toll-Free: (877) 237-0004



    Toll-Free: (800) 252-5400

    Local (toll): (512) 834-3784



    Toll-Free: (800) 678-9399



    After hours: (800) 649-5285



    Toll-Free: (800) 552-7096

    Local (toll): (804) 786-8536



    TTY: (800) 624-6186

    Toll-Free: (866) END-HARM (866-363-4276)

    After hours: (800) 562-5624


    West Virginia

    Toll-Free: (800) 352-6513


    Wisconsin Reports of alleged child abuse or neglect should be made to the county where the child or the child’s family resides





    Children’s Defense Fund 

    Child Welfare League of America 

    National Council on Juvenile and Family Court Judges 
    Child Protection and Custody/Resource Center on Domestic Violence

    Center for Judicial Excellence

    Domestic Violence Hotlines (all states)

    In the US: call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

    Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    P. O. Box 4762
    Montgomery, AL 36101
    Hotline: 1 (800) 650-6522
    Office: (334) 832-4842 Fax: (334) 832-4803

    Alaska Network on Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
    130 Seward Street, Suite 214
    Juneau, AK 99801
    Office: (907) 586-3650

    Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    2800 N. Central Ave., Suite 1570
    Phoenix, AZ 85004
    Hotline: 1 (800) 782-6400
    Office: (602) 279-2900 Fax: (602) 279-2980

    Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    1401 W. Capitol Avenue, Suite 170
    Little Rock, AR 72201
    Hotline: 1 (800) 269-4668
    Office: (501) 907-5612 Fax: (501) 907-5618

    California Partnership to End Domestic Violence
    P. O. Box 1798
    Sacramento, CA 95812
    Hotline: 1 (800) 524-4765
    Office: (916) 444-7163 Fax: (916) 444-7165

    Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    1120 Lincoln St, #900
    Denver, CO 80203
    Office: (303) 831-9632

    Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    912 Silas Deane Highway, Lower Level
    Wethersfield, CT 06109
    Hotline: (888) 774-2900
    Office: (860) 282-7899 Fax: (860) 282-7892

    Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    100 W. 10th Street, Suite 903
    Wilmington, DE 19801
    Northern Delaware: (302) 762-6110
    Southern Delaware: (302) 422-8058 Bilingual: (302) 745-9874
    Office: (302) 658-2958

    DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    5 Thomas Circle, NW
    Washington, DC 20005
    Office: (202) 299-1181 Fax: (202) 299-1193

    Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    425 Office Plaza
    Tallahassee, FL 32301
    Hotline: (800) 500-1119
    TDD: (850) 621-4202
    Office: (850) 425-2749 Fax: (850) 425-3091

    Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    114 New Street, Suite B
    Decatur, GA 30030
    Hotline: 1 (800) 334-2836
    Office: (404) 209-0280 Fax: (404) 766-3800

    Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Family Violence
    P.O. Box 1093
    Hagatna, GU 96932
    Office: (671) 479-2277 Fax: (671) 479-7233

    Hawaii State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    810 Richards Street, Suite 960
    Honolulu, HI 96813
    Office: (808) 832-9316 Fax: (808) 841-6028

    Idaho Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence
    300 E. Mallard Drive, Suite 130
    Boise, ID 83706
    Office: (208) 384-0419

    Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    Hotline: (877) 863-6338
    Office: (217) 789-2830

    Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    1915 W. 18th Street, Suite B
    Indianapolis, IN 46202
    Hotline: 1 (800) 332-7385
    Office: (317) 917-3685 Fax: (317) 917-3695

    Iowa Coalition against Domestic Violence
    3030 Merle Hay Road
    Des Moines, IA 50310
    Hotline: 1 (800) 942-0333
    Office: (515) 244-8028 Fax: (515) 244-7417

    Kansas Coalition against Sexual & Domestic Violence
    634 SW Harrison Street
    Topeka, KS 66603
    Hotline: 1 (888) 363-2287
    Office: (785) 232-9784 Fax: (785) 266-1874

    Kentucky Domestic Violence Association
    111 Darby Shire Circle
    Frankfort, KY 40601
    Office: (502) 209-5382 Fax: (502) 226-5382

    Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    P.O. Box 77308
    Baton Rouge, LA 70879
    Hotline: 1 (888) 411-1333
    Office: (225) 752-1296

    Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence
    One Weston Court, Box#2
    Augusta, ME 04330
    Hotline: 1 (866) 834-4357
    Office: (207) 430-8334 Fax: (207) 430-8348

    Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence
    4601 Presidents Dr., Ste. 370
    Lanham, MD 20706
    Hotline: 1 (800) 634-3577
    Office: (301) 429-3601 Fax: (301) 429-3605

    Massachusetts Coalition Against Sexual Assault & Domestic Violence/Jane Doe, Inc.
    14 Beacon Street, Suite 507
    Boston, MA 02108
    Hotline: 1 (877) 785-2020
    TTY/TTD: 1 (877) 521-2601
    Office: (617) 248-0922 Fax: (617) 248-0902

    Michigan Coalition To End Domestic & Sexual Violence
    3893 Okemos Road, Suite B2
    Okemos, MI 48864
    Office: (517) 347-7000 Fax: (517) 347-1377
    TTY: (517) 381-8470

    Minnesota Coalition for Battered Women
    60 Plato Blvd. E, Suite 130
    Saint Paul, MN 55107
    Hotline: 1 (866) 223-1111
    Office: (651) 646-6177 Fax: (651) 646-1527

    Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    P.O. Box 4703
    Jackson, MS 39296
    Hotline: 1 (800) 898-3234
    Office: (601) 981-9196 Fax: (601) 981-2501

    Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
    217 Oscar Dr., Suite A
    Jefferson City, MO 65101
    Office: (573) 634-4161

    Montana Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
    32 S Ewing St
    Helena, MT 59601
    Office: (406) 443-7794

    Nebraska Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Coalition
    245 South 84th St, Suite 200
    Lincoln, NE 68510
    Office: (402) 476-6256 Fax: (402) 476-6806
    Spanish Hotline: (877) 215-0167

    Nevada Network Against Domestic Violence
    250 South Rock Bldvd., Suite 116
    Reno, NV 89502
    (775) 828-1115 Fax: (775) 828-9911

    New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
    P.O. Box 353
    Concord, NH 03302
    Hotline: 1 (866) 644-3574
    Office: (603) 224-8893 Fax: (603) 228-6096

    New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women
    1670 Whitehorse Hamilton Square
    Trenton, NJ 08690
    Hotline: 1 (800) 572-7233 TTY: (800) 787-3224
    Office: (609) 584-8107 Fax: (609) 584-9750

    New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    1210 Luisa Street, Suite 7
    Santa Fe, NM 87505
    Office: (505) 246-9240 Fax: (505) 246-9240

    New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    119 Washington Avenue, 3rd Floor
    Albany, NY 12210
    Hotline NYS: 1 (800) 942-6906
    Hotline NYC: 1 (800) 621-4673
    Office: (518) 482-5465 Fax: (518) 482-3807

    North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    3710 University Drive, Suite 140
    Durham, NC 27707
    Office: (919) 956-9124 Fax: (919) 682-1449

    North Dakota Council on Abused Women’s Services
    525 N. 4th St.
    Bismark, ND 58501
    Office: (701) 255-6240 Fax: (701) 255-1904

    Ohio Domestic Violence Network
    Hotline: (800) 934-9840

    Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
    3815 N. Santa Fe Ave., Suite 124
    Oklahoma City, OK 73118
    Hotline: 1 (800) 522-7233
    Office: (405) 524-0700 TTY: (405) 512-5577

    Oregon Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
    1737 NE Alberta Street, Suite 205
    Portland, OR 97211
    Hotline: 1 (888) 235-5333
    Office: (503) 230-1951 Fax: (503) 230-1973

    Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    3605 Vartan Way, Suite 101
    Harrisburg PA 17110
    Office (717) 545-6400 TTY (800) 553-2508

    Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer
    Apartado 193008
    San Juan, Puerto Rico 00919-3008
    Office: (787) 281-7579

    Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    422 Post Road, Suite 201
    Warwick, RI 02888
    Hotline: 1 (800) 494-8100
    Office: (401) 467-9940 Fax: (401) 467-9943

    South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
    P.O. Box 7776
    Columbia, SC 29202
    Office: (803) 256-2900

    South Dakota Coalition Ending Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
    P.O. Box 141
    Pierre, SD 57501
    Office: (605) 945-0869

    Tennessee Coalition To End Domestic & Sexual Violence
    2 International Plaza Dr. Suite 425
    Nashville, TN 37217
    Hotline: 1 (800) 356-6767
    Office: (615) 386-9406

    Texas Council on Family Violence
    P.O. Box 163865
    Austin, TX 78716
    Office: (512) 794-1133 Fax: (512) 685.6397

    Women’s Coalition of St. Croix
    P.O. Box 222734
    Christiansted, VI 00822-2734
    Hotline: (340) 773-9272
    Fax: (340) 773-9062

    Utah Domestic Violence Coalition
    205 North 400 West,
    Salt Lake City, UT 84103
    Hotline: 1 (800) 897-5465
    Office: (801) 521-5544

    Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
    P.O. Box 405
    Montpelier, VT 05601
    Hotline: 1 (800) 228-7395
    Office: (802) 223-1302 Fax: (802) 223-6943

    Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance
    5008 Monument Avenue, Suite A
    Richmond, VA 23230
    Office: (804) 377-0335

    Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    711 Capitol Way, Suite 702
    Olympia, WA 98501
    Hotline: 1 (800) 562-6025
    Office: (360) 586-1022 Fax: (360) 586-1024

    West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    5004 Elk River Road, South
    Elkview, WV 25071
    Office: (304) 965-3552 Fax: (304) 965-3572

    Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence
    1245 E. Washington Ave, Suite 150
    Madison, WI 53703
    Office: (608) 255-0539 Fax: (608) 255-3560

    Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault
    P.O. Box 236
    710 Garfield Street, Suite 218
    Laramie, WY 82073
    Office: (307) 755-5481 Fax: (307) 755-5482

    Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women
    Box 252
    Harmony ME, 04942
    Hotline: 888-7HELPLINE
    Free, online, searchable database of domestic violence shelter programs nationally

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline 
    1-800-799-7233 (SAFE)

    National Dating Abuse Helpline 

    Americans Overseas Domestic Violence Crisis Center 
    International Toll-Free (24/7)
    1-866-USWOMEN (879-6636)

    National Child Abuse Hotline/Childhelp 
    1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453)

    National Sexual Assault Hotline 
    1-800-656-4673 (HOPE)

    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 
    1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

    National Center for Victims of Crime 

    National Human Trafficking Resource Center/Polaris Project 
    Call: 1-888-373-7888 | Text: HELP to BeFree (233733)

    National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights 

    National Coalition for the Homeless 


    Love is respect 
    Hotline: 1-866-331-9474
    Break the Cycle 

    Differently Abled

    Domestic Violence Initiative
    (303) 839-5510/ (877) 839-5510

    Deaf Abused Women’s Network (DAWN) 
    VP: 202-559-5366

    Women of Color

    Women of Color Network 

    INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence



    Casa de Esperanza 
    Linea de crisis 24-horas/24-hour crisis line


    The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project
    (202) 274-4457

    Indigenous Women

    National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center 

    Indigenous Women’s Network 

    Asian/Pacific Islander

    Asian and Pacific Islander Institute on Domestic Violence 

    Committee Against Anti-Asian Violence (CAAAV) 
    1-212- 473-6485



    Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community 

    The Black Church and Domestic Violence Institute 

    Lesbian, Bi-Sexual, Gay, Transgender, Gender Non-Conforming

    The Audre Lorde Project 

    LAMBDA GLBT Community Services 

    National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs 

    National Gay and Lesbian Task Force 

    Abuse in Later Life

    National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life 

    National Center for Elder Abuse 


    National Organization for Men Against Sexism (NOMAS) 

    A Call to Men 

    Men Can Stop Rape 

    Men Stopping Violence


    American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence 

    Battered Women’s Justice Project 

    Legal Momentum 

    National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women 
    1-800-903-0111 x 3

    Resources on the Web (Links)

    Safe Horizon

    Futures Without Violence

    Women’s Law

    Kids Matter Inc.

    The Red Flag Campaign

    Crisis Text Line

    Darkness to Light

    National Children’s Alliance

    Truth Alliance Foundation

    National Center for Education Statistics

    Administration for Children and Families



    Privacy Rights

    Leaving Abuse

    Child Help

    Helpguide Articles – Child Abuse

    Help Guide Articles – Domestic Violence

    Mayo Clinic – Domestic Violence Against Men

    Mayo Clinic – Child Abuse Risk Factors

    Healthy Children

    US Department of Justice

    Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Violence Prevention

    CDC Costs of Child Maltreatment

    CDC Intimate Partner Violence

    CDC Violence Prevention

    CDC Costs of Intimate Partner Violence

    Prevention Institute

    Women Thrive – Violence Against Women

    World Health Organization

    Prevent Child Abuse

    American Academy of Pediatrics

    CASA for Children

    American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

    National Council of Child and Family Violence

    National Data Archive on Child Abuse and Neglect

    The Child Abuse Prevention Center

    US Bureau of Justice Statistics

    Child Helpline International A global portal for children with a list of crisis lines and web resources around the world.

    National Children’s Alliance

    National Center for Victims of Crime

    National Sex Offender Public Registry coordinated by the Department of Justice

    State Sex Offender Registry Websites: The Investigative Programs Crimes Against Children unit of the FBI provides updated links to the sex offender registries of all 50 states.

    Sexual This site allows citizens to share information they have about criminal sex offenders, exchange resource links, and post comments in a blog style community.

    Family Watchdog This site allows visitors to enter an address into a field and a map of nearby registered sex offenders will be displayed.

    Administration of Children & Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services maintains the Child Welfare Information Gateway includes information on mandatory reporting along with specific state laws

    The Cybertipline or 1.800.843.5678 is an online and phone service which accepts leads regarding Internet criminal activity which are forwarded to law enforcement for review. Operated by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in collaboration with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and other state and law enforcement agencies

    For reporting child pornography outside of the U.S., INHOPE: International Association of Internet Hotlines includes an international directory of resources for reporting concerning online content

    To read the specific mandatory reporting statute for your state, consult the Child Welfare Information Gateway searchable database of statutes.

    Checklist of warning signs and red flags that you’re in an abusive relationship. (YWCA)

    Emotional Abuse In-depth discussion of emotional abuse, including types of emotional abuse and signs of abusive, authority-based relationships. (

    Breaking the Silence Handbook Guide to domestic violence including spotting the signs and where to turn for help. (Nebraska Health and Human Services)

    National Network to End Domestic Violence represents the 56 U.S. state and territorial coalitions against domestic violence.

    The National Domestic Violence Hotline

    The Problem Describes the problem of battering and signs of domestic violence. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

    Intimate Partner Abuse Against Men Learn about domestic violence against men, including homosexual partner abuse, sexual abuse of boys and male teenagers, and abuse by wives or partners. (National Clearinghouse on Family Violence, Canada)

    Dating Violence Guide to teen dating violence, including early warning signs that your boyfriend or girlfriend may become abusive. (The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

    Teens: Love Doesn’t Have To Hurt A teen-friendly guide to what abuse looks like in dating relationships and how to do something about it. (American Psychological Association)

    Domestic Violence in Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Relationships Learn about the unique problems victims of same-sex abuse face, and how to get help. (LAMBDA)

    Information for Immigrants Domestic violence resources for immigrant women. Also available en Español. (Women’s Law Initiative)

    National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) – A crisis intervention and referral phone line for domestic violence. (Texas Council on Family Violence)

    State Coalition List Directory of state offices that can help you find local support, shelter, and free or low-cost legal services. Includes all U.S. states, as well as the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands. (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

    The Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men & Women Specializing in providing support to male victims of abuse. (DAHMV)

    International Directory of Domestic Violence Agencies list of helplines and crisis centers. (HotPeachPages)

    Help for Victims, Family and Friends Where to find help if you or someone you know is being abused. (NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence)

    Male Survivor provides critical resources to male survivors of sexual trauma and all their partners in recovery by building communities of Hope, Healing, & Support.

    Stop Abuse for Everyone (SAFE)
    Tualatin OR, 97062

    Stop Abuse For Everyone (SAFE) is a human rights organization that provides services, publications, and training to serve those who typically fall between the cracks of domestic violence services. These groups include straight men, gays and lesbians, teens, the elderly, and immigrants.

    Tour a Domestic Violence Shelter Find out what you can expect at a typical refuge or shelter and hear personal experiences of what life there is like. (Safe Horizon)

    Safety Planning Guidelines for how to safely leave an abusive relationship, what to do if you’ve filed a restraining order, and what to do once you’ve left the relationship. (Women’s Law Initiative)

    The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV is the voice of victims and survivors. We are the catalyst for changing society to have zero tolerance for domestic violence. We do this by effecting public policy, increasing understanding of the impact of domestic violence, and providing programs and education that drive that change.

    Department of Health and Human Services: Administration for Children & Families. Child Maltreatment 2013.

    National Children’s Alliance 2013 and 2014 national statistics collected from Children’s Advocacy Center members and available on the NCA website :

    Source: Holly Cochran PhD for On the Wagon