How do I know when someone I love crosses the line?

Most families take care of each other and protect one another from harm. But, what if in the harm comes from within the family? Some people believe that they have the right to control a person they love by use emotional abuse, threats, intimidation, or physical and sexual force to keep the abuse a family secret.

How does the behavior of the abusive person affect the family?

An abusive person creates risk for family members, both adult and child--even when the victim separates from the abuser. The following lists are examples of actions or ways abusive family members try to control you or other family members:

To an Adult Victim:

physical, financial and mental actions


threats or harm to children to control or hurt the adult victim

interference with parenting

control financial resources

create complicated legal cases or other legal problems

physical injury/death

emotional methods

cause emotional/psychological damage

fear that children may be hurt or killed

damage to parent-child relationship


To Children:

physical and mental actions

physical injury/death

child abuse or neglect

violence continues after separation such as: custody battle, during visitation


child learns to act like the abuser.

possible abduction

emotional methods

cause emotional/psychological damage

fear that the non-abusive parent will be hurt or killed


What can I do?

If someone you love is hurting you, it is not your fault and you are not alone. First, talk with someone you trust-a good friend, a caring health care or social worker, a sensitive family member, an understanding person from your church or faith community, or someone from RDVIC. It is important to talk with a person who listens to you, believes you, does not blame you or discriminate against you, keep your information confidential and allows you to make your own decisions.

Domestic violence advocates are often the best people to talk with in order to understand your legal rights. They can help you identify choices, and the risks and benefits of those choices. They will not pressure you to do something you are not ready or able to do. They keep what you tell them confidential. They are here to listen, inform, and support you. Most important, only you can decide what is best for you.

Contact the RDVIC (304) 292-5100 to speak with one of our advocates.

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