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Domestic Violence FAQ's

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners.

What are the key elements of domestic violence?

  • Conduct perpetrated by adults or adolescents against their intimate partners in current or former dating, married or cohabiting relationships of heterosexuals, gay men and lesbians
  • A pattern of behaviors including a variety of tactics - some physically injurious and some not - carried out in multiple, sometimes daily episodes
  • A combination of physical attacks, terrorist attacks and controlling tactics used by perpetrators that result in fear as well as physical and psychological harm to victims and their children
  • A pattern of purposeful behavior, directed at achieving compliance from or control over the victim

What is the difference between fighting and battering?

  • Arguments, disagreements and differences of opinion are parts of normal relationships. What distinguishes an abusive relationship is an ongoing pattern of disproportionate control and coercion. The “fight” is not between people of equal power, but occurs within a relationship in which there is an imbalance of power and the use of abusive control tactics by one party

Why does domestic violence happen?

Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence is not caused by stress, mental illness, alcohol or drugs. The only true cause of domestic violence is the abuser's choice to act violently.

Is domestic violence a big problem in our community?

Domestic violence is a significant problem in all communities, affecting urban, suburban and rural areas equally. In Onondaga County nearly 700 adults and children obtain shelter due to domestic violence annually; police receive over 1,200 calls to domestic disputes every month; and 25% of homicide victims are women killed by a current or former male partner.

Click HERE to view local data & statistics gathered for our 2017 Report to the Community on Domestic and Sexual Violence.

Why does someone stay in an abusive relationship?

There are many reasons a person may not be ready or able to leave. Some of these reasons include: 

  • fear of physical danger
  • financial barriers
  • belief that things will get better if they stick with the relationship
  • fear of the unknown/failure
  • societal/religious messages
  • to keep the family intact
  • they love the person and hope they'll change

What are signs that I may be in an abusive relationship?

Does your partner . . . 

  • Hit, punch, slap, choke, or shove you?
  • Destroy personal property, damage furniture or walls?
  • Prevent you from seeing friends or family?
  • Control all finances and/or force you to account for what you spend?
  • Belittle you in public or private?
  • Show extreme jealousy of others or make false accusations?
  • Force you to have sex against your will?

These are all examples of abusive behavior. If any of these things are happening to you, call today and talk to someone about it:

  • Vera House 24-hour Crisis & Support Line 315-468-3260
  • TTY 315-484-7263 (For the Deaf Community - regular business hours only)
  • New York State Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-942-6906

Does violence occur in same-sex relationships?

Violence does occur in same-sex relationships. In fact, statistics show that same-sex relationship violence is as common as heterosexual relationship violence. Click HERE for more information.

Are heterosexual men ever the victims of domestic abuse?

The topic of battered men is very emotionally charged. For women's groups and feminists who have fought so hard for the legal and popular recognition that men's violence against women is wrong, it may seem like a betrayal to even acknowledge that men can be victims. However, as our understanding of domestic violence increases, we must accept that men can be and are abused by their wives and girl friends.

I’m worried about someone I know – what can I do?

Most likely you know someone who is being abusive or is being abused, or both. It can be frustrating when you know someone is being hurt and they have not ended the relationship. You can provide support and information about community resources to them - even just making this website available to them is a great start. Let them know that the abuse is not their fault and that no one deserves to be abused. Do not put yourself at risk by trying to intervene directly.

Click HERE to learn more about how to help a friend or loved one.

Does witnessing domestic violence affect our children?

Often children witnessing abuse blame themselves for problems occurring in their family. Many children are seriously injured or killed each year in an attempt to intervene to protect a parent. By growing up in an abusive environment, a child learns that violence is an effective tool and an acceptable way to interact with others. In Syracuse, there are services available through Vera House's youth counseling program.

How can employers respond to domestic violence?

In abusive relationships, abusers often intrude into the victim's work place with physical violence, stalking, threats and harassment. Employers can take the following steps to address violence in the work place: 

  • Establish employee policies and assistance programs that meet the needs of victims of domestic violence
  • Provide management with the tools to respond to domestic violence
  • Provide employees with information about domestic violence
  • Join or support local community efforts to combat domestic violence

What are the police required to do?

When police arrive at the scene of a domestic incident, officers are mandated to complete a police report and to distribute a victim's rights notice - even if there is no arrest made. According to New York State law, an officer must make an arrest when s/he has “probable cause” to believe certain offenses that rise to the level of a felony or misdemeanor have occurred between family members. Arrests provide immediate safety for the victim and other members of the household, and officers can direct victims to other resources.

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