U.S. Department of Agriculture Safety, Health and Employee Welfare Division
Stop the Cycle of Violence!
All of you know how much needs to be done to take meaningful steps to end domestic violence
and sexual assault. We need tough law enforcement, aggressive prosecutions, effective prevention programs and available shelters
for families in distress. Most importantly, we need to insure that more people know and understand that domestic violence
is not a private matter. It is a critical national problem that affects us all -- in every community, in every work place
and in every school.
Each of us can do more -- and this handbook shows us how.
President Clinton recognized the seriousness of the problem when he signed the Violence Against
Women Act as part of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994. In the past year, the Department of Justice
has sought to combine tough federal penalties along with substantial resources to the states to begin dealing with the problem
of domestic violence in a comprehensive, multi-faceted way. States and local law enforcement agencies have been encouraged
to begin programs that will enhance their ability to prevent domestic violence, to punish it and to stop the cycle of violence.
The Act also established a:
National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE.
President Clinton has called on all the Departments of the Federal government to develop employee
awareness campaigns to help combat domestic violence. The Department of Justice, Violence Against Women Office, prepared this
handbook as a resource guide for anyone seeking assistance or information on Domestic Violence. The following web site addresses
are provided as additional resources:
Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence
Tough new laws are one way to reduce domestic violence and sexual assaults.
Nothing sends a clearer message to a wife-beater -- Department of Justice statistics confirm that women are battered far more
than men -- than prosecuting and jailing other wife-beaters. New laws, however, are not the only answer.
Too many people continue to believe that domestic violence is a private matter
between a couple, rather than a criminal offense that merits a strong and swift response. Even today, the victim of a domestic
assault runs the risk of being asked, "What did you do to make your husband angry?" This questions implies the victim is to
blame for this abuse. People in our criminal justice system -- police, prosecutors, judges, and jurors -- need to be educated
about the role they can play in curbing acts of domestic violence.
Even when cases are brought, domestic crimes are difficult to prosecute. All
too often victims are so terrorized that they fear for their lives if they call the police. Silence is the batterer's best
friend. We have to end the silence and change our attitudes toward domestic crime.
Neighbors must contact the police when they hear violent fights in their neighborhoods.
Don't turn up the television to block out the sounds of the drunken argument next door. Call the police.
Teachers should be alert to signs that students have witnessed violence at
home. Children who grow up in violent homes are more likely to become violent themselves.
Medical professionals who see the victims of violence need to ask them about
these crimes. Too often, doctors or emergency room personnel accept the statement of fearful victims that their bruises or
cuts are the result of household accidents or falls. When a woman with a black eye says that she fell and hit the doorknob,
doctors and nurses must ask: "Did someone hit you?"
Members of the clergy need to become more involved as well. We just can't
tell a battered spouse to "go home and make it work," as was done in the past. Sending a woman back to a battering husband
often places her life at risk. Of course, we can't tell a woman who lives in a violent relationship what to do, but we can
make a greater effort to let her know that other options are available for her and her children. Early intervention is crucial.
These crimes are serious. Experience shows that levels of violence in these
relationships tend to escalate, and many police departments cite domestic violence as their number one problem. Tough laws
and effective prosecutions, combined with education and a cooperative approach among law enforcement and social service agencies,
will take time to be effective. Until then, we all must take a greater role in reporting domestic abuse. Our efforts to break
the silence can make a difference.
Domestic Violence...What is It?
As domestic violence awareness has increased, it has become evident that abuse
can occur within a number of relationships. The laws in many states cover incidents of violence occurring between married
couples, as well as abuse of elders by family members, abuse between roommates, dating couples and those in lesbian and gay
In an abusive relationship, the abuser may use a number of tactics other than
physical violence in order to maintain power and control over his or her partner:
Emotional and verbal abuse:
Survivors of domestic violence recount stories of put-downs, public humiliation,
name-calling, mind games and manipulation by their partners. Many say that the emotional abuse they have suffered has left
the deepest scars.
It is common for an abuser to be extremely jealous, and insist that the victim
not see her friends or family members. The resulting feeling of isolation may then be increased for the victim if she loses
her job as a result of absenteeism or decreased productivity (which are often associated with people who are experiencing
Threats and Intimidation:
Threats -- including threats of violence, suicide, or of taking away the children
-- are a very common tactic employed by the batterer.
The existence of emotional and verbal abuse, attempts to isolate, and threats
and intimidation within a relationship may be an indication that physical abuse is to follow. Even if they are not accompanied
by physical abuse, the effect of these incidents must not be minimized. Many of the resources listed in this book have information
available for people who are involved with an emotionally abusive intimate partner.
For additional information on the domestic violence definitions and laws in
your state, please contact the state resource listed in this handbook.
Who Are the Victims?
Women were attacked about six times more often by offenders with whom they had an intimate relationship than
were male violence victims.
Nearly 30 percent of all female homicide victims were known to have been killed by their husbands, former husbands
In contrast, just over 3 percent of male homicide victims were known to have been killed by their wives, former
wives or girlfriends.
Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed more than one million violent acts against
Family members or other people they knew committed more than 2.7 million violent crimes against women.
Husbands, former husbands, boyfriends and ex-boyfriends committed 26 percent of rapes and sexual assaults.
Forty-five percent of all violent attacks against female victims 12 years old and older by multiple offenders
involve offenders they know.
The rate of intimate-offender attacks on women separated from their husbands was about three times higher than
that of divorced women and about 25 times higher than that of married women.
Women of all races were equally vulnerable to attacks by intimates.
Female victims of violence were more likely to be injured when attacked by someone they knew than female victims
of violence who were attacked by strangers.
Myths About Family Violence
Myth:Family violence is rare...
o Although statistics on family
violence are not precise, it's clear that millions of children, women and even men are abused physically by family members
and other intimates.
o Myth:Family violence
is confined to the lower classes...
o Reports from police records,
victim services, and academic studies show domestic violence exists equally in every socioeconomic group, regardless of race
o Myth:Alcohol and drug
abuse are the real causes of violence in the home...
o Because many male batterers also
abuse alcohol and other drugs, it's easy to conclude that these substances may cause domestic violence. They apparently do
increase the lethality of the violence, but they also offer the batterer another excuse to evade responsibility for his behavior.
The abusive man -- and men are the abusers in the overwhelming majority of domestic violence incidents -- typically controls
his actions, even when drunk or high, by choosing a time and place for the assaults to take place in private and go undetected.
In addition, successful completion of a drug treatment program does not guarantee an end to battering. Domestic violence and
substance abuse are two different problems that should be treated separately.
o Myth:Battered wives
like being hit, otherwise they would leave...
o The most common response to battering--
"Why doesn't she just leave?"-- ignores economic and social realities facing many women. Shelters are often full, and family,
friends, and the workplace are frequently less than fully supportive. Faced with rent and utility deposits, day care, health
insurance, and other basic expenses, the woman may feel that she cannot support herself and her children. Moreover, in some
instances, the woman may be increasing the chance of physical harm or even death if she leaves an abusive spouse.
Adapted from:: "Preventing Violence Against Women, Not Just a Women's Issue," National Crime
Prevention Council, 1995.
What Can You Say to aVictim?
· I'm afraid for your safety.
I'm afraid for the safety of your children.
It will only get worse.
We're here for you when you are ready or when you are able to leave.
You deserve better than this.
Let's figure out a safety plan for you.
Adapted from: Sarah Buel, Esq., in "Courts
and Communities: Confronting Violence in the Family," Conference Highlights, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court
What is a Safety Plan?
Every individual in an abusive relationship needs a safety plan. Shelters
and crisis counselors have been urging safety plans for years, and police departments, victim services, hospitals, and courts
have adopted this strategy. Safety plans should be individualized -- for example, taking account of age, marital status, whether
children are involved, geographic location, and resources available -- but still contain common elements.
When creating a safety plan:
Think about all possible escape routes. Doors, first-floor windows, basement exits,
elevators, stairwells. Rehearse if possible.
Choose a place to go. To the home of a friend or relative who will offer unconditional
support, or a motel or hotel, or a shelter - most importantly somewhere you will feel safe.
Pack a survival kit. Money for cab fare, a change of clothes, extra house and car keys,
birth certificates, passports, medications and copies of prescriptions, insurance information, checkbook, credit cards, legal
documents such as separation agreements and protection orders, address books, and valuable jewelry, and papers that show jointly
owned assets. Conceal it in the home or leave it with a trusted neighbor, friend, or relative. Important papers can also be
left in a bank deposit box.
Try to start an individual savings account. Have statements sent to a trusted relative
Avoid arguments with the abuser in areas with potential weapons. Kitchen, garage, or
in small spaces without access to an outside door.
Know the telephone number of the domestic violence hotline. Contact it for information
on resources and legal rights.
Review the safety plan monthly.
Adapted from: "Preventing Domestic
Violence" by Laura Crites in Prevention Communique, March 1992, Crime Prevention Division, Department of the Attorney General,
What Can Each of Us Do?
the police if you see or hear evidence of domestic violence.
Speak out publicly against domestic violence.
Take action personally against domestic violence when a neighbor, a co-worker, a friend, or a family member
is involved or being abused.
Encourage your neighborhood watch or block association to become as concerned with watching out for domestic
violence as with burglaries and other crimes.
Reach out to support someone whom you believe is a victim of domestic violence and/or talk with a person you
believe is being abusive.
Help others become informed, by inviting speakers to your church, professional organization, civic group, or
Support domestic violence counseling programs and shelters.
Adapted from: "Preventing Domestic Violence" by Laura Crites in Prevention Communique, March 1992, Crime Prevention
Division, Department of the Attorney General, Hawaii.
What Can Communities do to Prevent Domestic Violence?
Expand education and awareness efforts to increase positive attitudes toward nonviolence and
encourage individuals to report family violence.
Form or task forces to assess the problem, develop an action
plan, and monitor progress.
Mandate training in domestic violence for all social services and criminal justice professionals.
Advocate laws and judicial procedures at the state and local levels that support
and protect battered women.
Establish centers where visits between batterers and their children may be supervised, for the children's
Fund shelters adequately.
Recruit and train volunteers to staff hotlines, accompany victims to court,
and provide administrative support to shelters and victim services.
Improve collection of child support.
Establish medical protocols to help physicians and other health care personnel identify and
help victims of domestic abuse.
Provide legal representation for victims of domestic violence.
Advocate for the accessibility of services for all population groups, especially underserved
populations which include immigrants and refugees, gays and lesbians, racial and ethnic minorities and the disabled.
Adapted from: "Preventing Violence Against Women: Not Just A Women's Issue," the National Crime Prevention Council,
Domestic Violence and the Workplace
As awareness about domestic violence has grown, so has the recognition that
this crime has a major impact in the workplace. The abuse an employee receives at home can lead to lost productivity, higher
stress, increased absenteeism and higher health care costs. A 1994 survey of senior corporate executives conducted by Roper
Starch Worldwide on behalf of Liz Claiborne, Inc. found that:
· Fifty-seven percent believe
domestic violence is a major problem in society.
One-third thought this problem had a negative impact on their bottom lines.
Four out of ten executives surveyed were personally aware of employees and other individuals affected
by domestic violence.
To ensure that the Federal government will be a leader in educating employees about the serious implications of domestic
violence, President Clinton has directed the heads of every Federal department to conduct employee awareness campaigns on
the issue. Similar programs are underway in corporate America, led by companies such as the Polaroid Corporation, Marshalls
Inc., Liz Claiborne Inc., and Aetna.
Where Can You Get Help?
This handbook is another step in the Federal Employee Awareness Campaign on
Domestic Violence, the goal of which is to educate and foster awareness about domestic violence for United States government
Through this campaign, we hope to put people in touch with resources, such
as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and publications which will be helpful in combatting the crime of domestic violence.
On February 21, 1996, President Clinton announced a nationwide, 24-hour,
toll-free domestic violence hotline. The number is 1-800-799-SAFE and the TDD number for the hearing impaired is 1-800-787-3224.
Help is also available to callers in Spanish and to other non-English speakers. The hotline provides immediate crisis intervention
for those in need. Callers can receive counseling and be referred directly to help in their communities, including emergency
services and shelters. Also, operators can offer information and referrals, counseling and assistance in reporting abuse to
survivors of domestic violence, family members, neighbors, and the general public.
In many areas, there are local domestic violence agencies which can provide
crisis services such as shelter, counseling, and legal assistance. These numbers can be obtained from state or regional coalitions,
from the phone book, or by calling information.
The Department of Agriculture's Employee Assistance Program can also provide
you with assistance and referrals, support groups, counseling and other services.
This handbook contains a list of state, regional, and national resources which
can be of assistance.