Relationships: Good, bad and sometimes ugly

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month; stop and look at the warning signs.

Domestic violence is the leading cause of injuries for women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States; more than muggings, car accidents and rapes combined. Over 85 percent of all domestic violence victims are women. There are more than twice as many animal shelters in the United States than there are shelters for battered women. Witnessing violence between parents or caregivers is the strongest risk factor for carrying on violent behavior from one generation to the next.

Michigan State University Extension recognizes the importance of relationship education in assisting individuals and families to recognize “red flags” in relationships that may lead to domestic violence. Review these questions to see if you (or someone you know) might fit the pattern of power and control that can lead to domestic violence.

Does someone:

  • Embarrass you/put you down?
  • Control what you do, who you see, who you talk to or where you go?
  • Act in ways that frighten you?
  • Push, hit, slap or choke you?
  • Control the money in your partnership?
  • Make all the important decisions?
  • Prevent you from working, going to class or seeing friends?
  • Act like the abuse is no big deal, deny it, or tell you it’s your fault?
  • Threaten to hurt himself or herself?
  • Destroy property or abuse or threaten to abuse pets?

If you answer “yes” to any of these, you may be in a domestic violence situation. There is help for you and those you know who may be facing this situation. If you need immediate help, call 911. Here are some other tips to assist you if you (or a family member or friend) is experiencing domestic violence.

Plan for emergencies:

  • Know the “red flags” that an abuser is getting angry. Leave the house/area if you see signs or clues that there may be a problem.
  • Have a safe place to go. Keep a phone handy and have it programmed for someone who can help. Keep a file of your important documents that can be grabbed quickly if you have to leave home.
  • Have a list of emergency contacts ready; including the number for your local domestic violence/sexual assault program in your area.
  • Establish a code word that you can use to let your friends, neighbors, children and/or co-workers know that you may be in danger.
  • Build a strong support network. Get involved with people, outside activities and encourage your children to do the same.
  • Be kind to yourself; you are never to blame for being mistreated. You deserve, and your children deserve a life that is safe and happy.
  • You are NOT alone! Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for support, resources and advice for your safety; 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • Take advantage of programs and classes in your area that can educate you on healthy relationships and ways to manage anger and stress.

For more on information caregiving or family issues that affect you visit and your family http://www.extension.org.

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