Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is more than just a "family problem" - it is a crime

In California, it is a crime for any person to threaten, beat, sexually assault, or otherwise harm another person, even if they are married.

Battering is not exclusively a crime against women, but women are the majority of victims; thus, this is primarily directed to the battered wife or woman.

Although there are few statistics on the incidence of domestic violence, we do know that:

Their husbands or boyfriends kill approximately 30 percent of female homicide victims in the United States.

Females are much more likely than males to be killed by their spouse.

Domestic violence affects at least one out of every four American families.

Why Do People Stay in Abusive Situations?

Once violence has begun, it continues to increase in both frequency and severity. Understanding the psychological consequences of the violent relationship can help the woman take power and choose constructive alternatives, as well as aid those who intervene to help her.

The most frequently asked question concerning a battering situation is, "Why does she stay?" While reasons range from children, love, guilt, fear, pride, embarrassment, financial dependence - or a combination thereof - it is very possible that the woman is locked into a violence cycle.

Three-Phase Theory of Family Violence

The family violence cycle consists of three phases:

  • tension-building phase
  • acute-battering incident
  • the loving reconciliation

1. Tension-Building Phase

During this phase, the woman senses her mate's increasing tension. He is "edgy" and perhaps challenges her and/or tells her she is stupid or incompetent. The woman may internalize her appropriate anger at his unfairness, and experience physical effects such as depression, tension, anxiety, and headaches. As the tension in the relationship increases, minor episodes of violence, such as pinching, slapping, or shoving, increase.

2. Acute-Battering Incident

The tension-building phase ends in an explosion of violence. The woman may or may not fight back. Following the battering, she is in a state of physical and psychological shock. The man may discount the episode and underestimate the woman's injuries.

3. Loving Reconciliation

During the last phase of the family violence cycle, both parties have a sense of relief that "it's over." The man is often genuinely sorry for what happened and is fearful that his partner will leave him. He apologizes and may "shower" her with love and praise that helps her repair her shattered self-esteem. He tells her he can't live without her, so that she feels responsible for his well being and guilty for her actions. She blames herself for her actions and for what led up to the abuse.

If You Become a Victim of Domestic Violence

Everyone has the right to be safe from threats and beatings - but you must take that first step. Once you recognize that it isn't your fault and it is possible to change your situation, seek the help you need.

Call the police or sheriff.

Make sure you are safe from another beating. Whenever you believe you are in danger, leave your home and take your children with you. Also, take important papers such as your birth certificate and vehicle registration.

Get medical attention. Don't try to treat yourself; you may be injured much more seriously than you realize.

Seek assistance. Whether or not you file charges against your batterer, you may need to talk to a professional about your situation. Contact your local battered women's shelter, women's support group, or victims' assistance center.

Save all the evidence (proof) you can. (You may even want to take photographs of your injuries.) Whether or not you file charges now, you may later change your mind and will then need proof that you have been assaulted.

Help Available

If you need help, look in the yellow pages of your telephone directory under "Women's Services and Organizations."

If nothing is listed, look under the name of your city or county for departments of family services, social services, health, or welfare. These agencies can offer help to you or refer you to someone who can help.

Check the white pages of your telephone book under the heading "Crisis." Many areas have crisis hot lines that are answered 24 hours a day.

Remember that your local police and sheriff's departments are there to help you. You should always have their numbers handy for an emergency.

Other sources of help and/or referral are the Salvation Army or your private physician or attorney.

Also, look in the yellow pages under "Attorney Referral Service," "Legal Assistance" or "Bar Association" if you have a low income and need a lawyer.

No victim of sexual assault shall be required to participate or agree to participate in the criminal justice system, either prior to examination or at any other time (Penal Code 13823.95 (b))

A person who was arrested may be released on bond or some other form of release. If you are a victim you should not rely upon an arrest as a guarantee of safety

The Ventura County District Attorney's Office offers information for victim help:

Contact Information

Ventura Police Department Emergency, call 9-1 -1
After hours Ventura Police Department, 805-650-8010

Interface: Children and Family Services, 800-339-9597

Battered Women's Hotline, 805-656-1111

Ventura County Victim Services, 805-654-3622

California Partnership to End Domestic Violence

Campus Sexual Assault Resources - CA Attorney General

VINElink National Victim Notification Network:

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