Intimate Partner Violence Survivors

Many people mistakenly believe that Intimate Partner Violence is only physical abuse and visible injuries, but there are many forms of abuse.

A woman with short dark hair rests her head in her hand while another person has their hand on her shoulder. She looks sad

Intimate Partner Violence is a behavior pattern designed to exert power and control over an intimate (romantic) partner. Control is established in different ways, including physical, verbal, financial, emotional, sexual, spiritual abuse, or stalking behavior. This abuse usually takes place within what is commonly called the Cycle of Violence.

We’re here to support and empower you.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
Lumina Alliance offers counseling and a 24-hour crisis and support line (805) 545-8888 for survivors in need of help.

Intimate Partner Violence, or domestic violence, takes many forms, including sexual abuse, emotional or verbal abuse, financial abuse, psychological abuse, spiritual abuse, and physical abuse. Lumina Alliance is here to help anyone experiencing this kind of violence.

You are not alone. In the United States, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men will suffer an abusive relationship at one point in their lives, and 24 people experience Intimate Partner Violence every minute.

This can end.

Intimate Partner Violence can happen to anyone. It happens to people from different socioeconomic groups, ethnicities, and religious affiliations and affects same-sex couples and opposite sex couples at equal rates. It happens in marriages, between those who are dating, and in all types of intimate relationships.

There is help.

It is not just physical abuse. Intimate Partner Violence takes many forms including: sexual, emotional/verbal, financial, psychological, spiritual and physical abuse. For some, the lasting scars from the less obvious forms of abuse are harder to recover from.

There is hope.

It is not your fault. The abuser may tell you over and over again that you deserved it, asked for it, or caused the abuse. THAT IS NOT TRUE.

No one asks for or deserves abuse.

Two men lay in bed

Below are the Top 10 Warning Signs that your partner may be abusive. Talk to someone you trust or call our crisis and information line at (805) 545-8888 if you need someone to talk to.

  • Unreasonable jealousy. Your partner wants to know who you are with, and where, and what you are doing all of the time.
  • Controlling behavior. Your partner says they just want to keep you safe, but they tell you where to go and what to do more and more often.
  • Pressure to commit very quickly. Love at first sight may be a romantic idea, but be careful of anyone who wants to get very serious very quickly.
  • Unrealistic expectations. Your partner expects you to fulfill all of their needs. You are expected to be all things at all times for this person. These expectations are not realistic and can be used to set you up as a scapegoat.
  • Isolation from friends, family, and other support systems. “Why do you need to be with anyone else if you love me?” If this question sounds familiar, beware. Friends, family, and support systems are important. Maintaining outside interests is healthy when in a relationship. Isolation can be used to perpetuate violence and exert further control by separating you from the people who can help/support you.
  • Blames others for all of their problems and feelings. Accuse you of “pushing” their buttons or doing things to make them upset or angry deliberately; they blame you for their reactions. Get unreasonably angry about small or imagined slights.
  • “Playful” use of force during sex without your consent. Sexual play should be a decision made by both parties in a committed and caring relationship. Being in an intimate relationship does NOT mean giving up control over your own body. You still have the right to say no to things that you do not want to do. A common myth is that a person cannot sexually assault their partner or spouse. But in truth, nearly 1 in 10 women have experienced rape by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
  • Rigid gender roles. Are you only allowed to do certain things because of your gender? Do they get upset with you when you are not feminine or masculine enough in their eyes? Be careful—strict roles often mean strict rules and can indicate a controlling personality.
  • Past abusive behavior. One of the most accurate predictors of abusive behavior is past abuse. If they have been abusive in past relationships, chances are they can or will be again.
  • Threats of violence. Threatening to harm you, themselves, loved ones, friends, pets, even strangers is a strong indicator that this person may become abusive. If you fear for your safety or the safety of your loved ones, you have options. Did you know your pet can be listed as a protected party in a restraining order? Call our 24-hour crisis and information line for more details.

Intimate Partner Violence is traumatic and often starts small, leading to more severe injuries as time goes on. You may have physical pain, injuries, and strong emotional reactions. These can include intense anxiety, depression and fearfulness, difficulty concentrating, nightmares about the traumatic events, and intense memories, or “reliving” of the traumatic experiences.

You may also find yourself feeling like it is your fault; you may be ashamed to tell others about what is happening to you; you may find yourself confused by the cycle and feel stuck in it. You may deny how serious the abuse is or feel as though there is nowhere to turn. Guilt, shame, and denial of the abuse are common reactions.

The Cycle of Violence can be broken, and talking about the trauma can often help.

Safety planning is just as it sounds: it’s a plan to keep yourself safe in the relationship or if you plan on leaving. The most dangerous time for anyone experiencing intimate partner violence is when they have decided to leave.

Sometimes safety planning can seem like an overwhelming task. Below are some pointers and tips to consider when making a plan to keep you safe. Remember, you are the expert, so trust your instincts if any of the recommendations don’t seem safe in your relationship. Think of ways you have kept yourself safe in the past and consider new ways that feel right to you.

  • Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence.
  • Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs – avoid rooms with no exits or that include dangerous items—stay out of bathrooms, the kitchen, and the garage.
  • Make a list of safe people to contact.
  • Try to keep important documents, keys, and cash with you.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and memorize important phone numbers.
  • Establish a “code word or sign” so that family, friends, teachers, or co-workers know when to call for help.
  • Think about what you will say to your partner if they become violent.
  • Have a set of clothes for yourself and for your children stored at a friend’s house or work in the event you need to leave your home quickly.
  • Keep sets of important documents (birth certificates, banking information, ATM card, school records, deeds, other legal documents) away from your house in a safe place that only you can access.
  • Keep a journal of the abuse ONLY if you feel confident that you can keep it hidden from the abuser.
  • Change your phone number or screen all of your calls.
  • Trust your instincts—if something doesn’t feel safe, don’t do it.
  • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries, or other incidents involving interaction with the abuser. DocUSafe is a free app that can store pictures and other forms of documentation. Documentation is vital if you wish to obtain a restraining order in the future.
  • Change locks at your home and to your vehicle.
  • Avoid staying alone.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
  • If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place with a family member or friend nearby or present.
  • Vary your routine.
  • Notify schools and those you work with.
  • Consider applying for a Temporary Restraining Order.
  • Create a financial escape plan.
  • Learn the best route to get to a safe location.
  • Vary your routine to and from school, in outside activities, and with friends.
  • Try to keep important documents, keys, and cash with you.
  • Keep your cell phone charged and memorize important phone numbers.
  • Pick a safe and secret location where a friend or family member can pick you up.
  • If you don’t feel safe, don’t break up in person. If you decide to break up in person, do it in a public place and ask someone you trust to be nearby in case you need them.
  • Consider applying for a Temporary Restraining Order. In California, you can apply for a Temporary Restraining Order at age 13.
  • Think independently and trust your instincts.
  • Don’t let anyone talk you into doing something that’s not right for you.
  • Call the National Teen Dating Violence Hotline at (866) 331-9474 or visit the Love is Respect website.
  • If possible, have a phone nearby at all times, preferably one to which the stalker has never had access.
  • Treat all threats seriously and report them to law enforcement.
  • Vary your routine. Take different routes to work or school, go to different stores, etc.
  • Try to travel with others and stay in groups when out.
  • Get an unlisted phone number. If possible, keep your old number connected to a voicemail or answering machine and save all messages left by the stalker/abuser. Please note, smartphones can be used as a means of stalking by an abuser. To learn more, click here.
  • Do not interact with the person stalking or harassing you.
  • Consider obtaining a protective order against the stalker.
  • Keep a journal or incident log of all stalking behavior. Include the date/time, a description of the behavior, and the names of any witnesses. Retain copies of any texts, messages, or emails received from the stalker. Also, when possible, take pictures of the stalking behavior as part of your records. These can be incredibly important to prosecution.
  • If you are being followed or are fearful for your immediate safety, consider going to a police station, fire station, emergency room—public areas may deter the stalking behavior.
  • Go to the Stalking Resource Center for more help.