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Domestic Violence

Couple arguing as daughter covers her ears, wiching the violence to stop.

Working Against Violence, Inc. (WAVI) provides several types of services to assist victims of domestic violence, as well as offers the support and resources needed to make healthy choices. We're here to help individuals discover their personal strengths, identify the options available to them, and experience empowerment.

Continue reading to learn domestic violence facts that can help you identify an unsafe situation, as well as information on leaving an abuser.

Domestic violence impacts everyone, regardless of income, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religion.

It is defined as a systematic pattern of controlling, coercive or violent behavior intended to punish, abuse and ultimately control the thoughts, beliefs, and actions of others. 

This may include physical abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse, and sexual abuse.

Some of the signs of domestic violence include:

  • Isolation
  • Threats of suicide
  • Unpredictable behavior
  • Intimidation
  • Destruction of property
  • Mind games
  • Insults
  • Blaming
  • Harassment
  • Denying
  • Pushing
  • Hair pulling
  • Restraining
  • Hitting
  • Preventing employment
  • Manipulation
  • Shaming
  • Blackmail
  • Abuse of animals
  • Name calling
  • Threats
  • Yelling
  • Minimizing
  • Strangling
  • Kicking
  • Rape
  • Use of weapons
  • Denying access to family income
  • Denying of basic needs
  • Biting
  • Throwing objects
  • Locking out of home or car

Some signs of emotional/psychological abuse include:

  • Ignoring your feelings
  • Ridiculing or insulting
  • Ridiculing or insulting your beliefs, religion, race, heritage or class
  • Withholding approval, appreciation or affection as punishment
  • Continually criticizing you, calling you names and shouting at you
  • Insulting or driving away your family and friends
  • Humiliating you in private or public
  • Refusing to socialize with you
  • Keeping you from working
  • Controlling your money
  • Making all the decisions
  • Taking away car keys or money
  • Threatening to leave or tells you to leave
  • Threatening to hurt you or your family
  • Punishing or depriving the children when they are angry with you
  • Threatening to kidnap the children if you leave
  • Abusing the pets to hurt you
  • Telling you about his affairs in order to hurt you
  • Harassing you about affairs they imagine you are having
  • Manipulating you with lies
  • Threatening suicide
  • Demanding all of your attention

Remember - You are NOT responsible for the violence. You cannot make someone hit you. They must choose to do it. Keep in mind, it will probably happen again and get even worse over time. Find someone you can talk to about the abuse. This may be a friend, teacher, counselor, trusted adult, your parents or the local domestic violence program.

Think of ways which may help you to be safe, such as a friend you can ask for a ride home from.  Although you may still care for them, the reality is that, sometimes, they are dangerous to be around.

Remember, being uncomfortable never cost you your life. Violence can!

WAVI provides comprehensive case management support services, including:

  • Emergency shelter - WAVI provides an emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in a safe facility with trained staff and volunteers. We are an equal opportunity provider and our services are offered at no cost to clients.
  • 24-hour crisis line - Trained advocates are available to provide emotional support, information, and encouragement.
  • Case management - WAVI Case Managers assess client's needs and assist with the personalization of a safety plan and an action plan.
  • Emergency room response - WAVI volunteers and staff respond 24 hours a day to the emergency room for support of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.
  • Referral network  - WAVI assists with community referrals for services such as: housing, education, daycare, employment, medical needs, clothing vouchers, legal assistance, and counseling.
  • Legal and court advocacy - WAVI provides assistance with filing temporary protection orders and stalking orders, as well as accompaniment to court proceedings and interviews with law enforcement.
  • Community education - WAVI presents education and prevention programs to community agencies, civic organizations and area schools.
  • Support groups - WAVI holds weekly support groups for survivors of domestic violence. Meetings are held on Thursday evenings from 6:00pm to 7:30pm. Childcare is provided with advance notice. Please call 605-341-3292 to speak with a case manager before attending.
Create a Safety Plan

Click the button below for easy-to-use forms that help you develop a strategy for safety in the case of a violent event. There is an extensive plan, and a shortened version.

Personalized Safety Plan

Survivors Handbook

For a complete guide on what domestic violence is, how it affects families and communities, and how to get help, read WAVI’s Survivors Handbook.

Separation is not easy. It will take several months to work through the steps, and a couple of years to become freshly established. Knowing what to do and what to expect does not stop you from having feelings. You will probably feel all your emotions more strongly than ever. You may feel betrayal, grief, anger, joy, freedom, weakness and strength, often at the same time. You may feel that you are going crazy because of all the emotions you have, which are sometimes overwhelming, contradictory, and unexpected.

This is a normal process. Remember that your emotions are just a part of you, a changing part, and they are not "you, the whole person." 
Let yourself feel your emotions fully. 
DO NOT JUDGE YOURSELF for having them. You will pass through each one in time.


Grief is a large part of the process of letting go of a relationship. 
When you feel grief, let yourself cry. 

You may feel like you will never stop. You are facing a death, the death of your relationship. You will stop crying when the mourning is over. 

You may not understand why you are sad, especially if you were badly abused. There were probably some good things that you will miss. This is the reality. Remember you did have to pay a price for more good things - a very high price.

Anxiety and Loss of Control

You are probably accustomed to judging your safety by predicting your partner's mood and picking up the signals from them, so you could anticipate and react. When you leave, the absence of your partner may feel frightening. You may feel you have lost control. Your feelings of safety are gone when you lose your signals. The feelings of loss of control are NORMAL in transition. You are moving the center of control from your partner to yourself. It can be frightening as it is freeing and it just takes time.


Many people find that the first anniversary of their leaving is particularly painful. It is important for you to be aware of that and plan for it. You may arrange to spend that time with close friends. You may also get in touch with the shelter in your community (WAVI) to get reinforcement and support.


You may experience a great euphoria when you leave the relationship. This may last for weeks or months. This is usually felt if you have made a clear decision. This euphoria can help give you energy to get yourself on your feet again. 

Don't be surprised if a month or a year later, you feel grief or anger or depression. This is normal and part of the process of change and separation. You will have to work through all the stages at some time. The timing may vary with each individual.


Your friends may change over time. Your situation may now be different than their situation. Your interests and concerns may become different, and they may feel threatened. They may take sides with your partner. It may hurt you a great deal if your former in-laws reject you. Family blood is often thicker than you want to believe. It may take you a while to TRUST, or to have energy for anyone else. This is NORMAL and SELF-PROTECTIVE. 

You may want to isolate yourself, but friendships are very important. Friends of your same gender are especially important at this time. Reach out! Even though it may seem less painful to isolate yourself, in the long run it is not.

Feelings of Failure

You may feel that admitting "failure" in your relationship confirms your inadequacy. This is NOT TRUE. You have probably done all you could to make it work and it is not your fault that your efforts failed. 
Relationships take a toll on people. Remember that your decision to leave was a painful and difficult one. Recognize your success in making that decision. Give yourself credit.

New Relationships

New relationships may trigger memories of our old relationships. It takes hard work, a great deal of commitment and communication to be in a relationship. 

A second relationship has different problems from the first. Be sure you feel strong enough to live independently again. This way, when you have a choice, you will not be as likely to make the same mistakes. You will be better able to stand up for YOUR RIGHTS. 

It is important to remember that life is up and down. You will have good days, when you are feeling strong and capable, and bad days when you are feeling depressed and vulnerable. Know that feeling bad will not last forever and there are things you can do to help yourself through the down time.


You may feel more anger after separation than you have ever felt before. You may suddenly feel all the anger that is stockpiled and denied during your relationship along with the built-up frustration at not getting your needs met, and the powerlessness of your position. 
It is safe to feel angry now. Accept that your anger is normal. Anger can give you power and motivation. Use it to your advantage. The goal of letting yourself feel anger is to express it constructively so that you become free of it. 

Do not use it for revenge. Acting in revenge may destroy your self-respect in the long run. Fantasize about revenge instead and then let it go.


Changed memories can create a feeling of disorientation, disbelief in yourself, and betrayal from your partner. You are not crazy if you see your past, yourself, and your partner differently. You may remember only the good times with your partner or only the bad times. 

It's normal to look at yourself, your partner, and the world in a new way. Your situation is different now and you will have a different perspective.

Your Identity

You may have identified yourself with your relationship. Your role as a wife, husband, mother or father may be the way you see yourself, and how you are known in the community. When you leave the relationship, you will experience a real sense of loss of your self-identity. 

The process of moving from a role, a job of wife, husband, mother or father, and private status of victim to a single, competent person is painful and not always as fast as you might want it to be. It involves getting to know yourself in a new way. Now you can become your own boss and your own person. Being on your own is a wonderful feeling as well as a scary one. It may be the first time you have had the freedom to experience this responsibility. It sometimes takes many trials to discover who you are and what you want.

Grieving Symptoms

While you are going through the separation, it is normal for you to experience sleep disturbances, diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and weight loss or gain. 

Psychological symptoms may include: sadness, hopelessness or feeling of futility, edginess and being easily irritated, crying often, poor concentration, great difficulty making decisions and poor memory. 
Good physical health will help you cope.

It can be tough to know exactly what to do when a friend is in an unsafe situation, but we have put together some tips on how you can help.

Approach them in an understanding, non-blaming way. Tell him/her that he/she is not alone, that there are many people in the same kind of situation, and that it takes strength to survive and trust someone enough to talk about the abuse. Let him/her know that their feelings are reasonable and normal. It is common to feel frightened, confused, angry, sad, guilty, hopeless, or numb.

Acknowledge that it is scary and difficult to talk about domestic violence. Tell him/her that they do not deserve to be threatened, hit, or beaten. Nothing he/she can do or say makes the abuser's violence okay.

Provide information on help available to abused women, men and children, including social services, emergency shelter 24 hour hotline, counseling services, and legal advice. (Remember that communities respond differently to this issue.)

Support him/her as a friend. Be a good listener and believe them even if the incidents seem incredible; listen, respect and validate their experience. You may be the first one to do so. Encourage them to express hurt and anger. Allow them to make their own decisions, even if it means he/she isn't ready to leave the abusive relationship. Acknowledge and support them for talking about the abuse. Let him/her know you appreciate what they have done by talking about the abuse they have been experiencing. Violence may, and often does, escalate when the silence is broken.

Confront him/her with the danger. At some point, you may find it difficult to be supportive of your friend if they remain in the violent relationship or returns to the abuser after a temporary separation. Let him/her know that not everyone lives with abuse. Help them face up to the dangerous reality of living with an abusive partner. Don't blame them for the abuse. (Remember, no one deserves to be hurt.) Tell him/her you care about them and their safety. Give him/her the emotional support that they need to believe that they are a good person. Help examine his/her strengths and skills. Emphasize that they deserve a life that is free from violence.

Encourage your friend to develop a plan to protect themselves and their children, but let them make the decision. Leaving is a process. He/She knows the abuser and the potential for danger better than anyone else. Help them think through some steps they should take if their partner becomes abusive again. Make a list of people they can call in an emergency. Suggest that he/she put together and hide a suitcase of clothing, personal items, money, social security cards, bank books, children's birth certificates and school records, and other important documents.

Share information. Show him/her a list of warning signs, violence and non-violence wheels. Discuss the dynamics of violence and how abuse is about power and control.

Ask if he/she has suffered physical harm. Go with them to the hospital to check for injuries. Help them report the assault to the police, if they chooses to do so.

Programs that assist abused women not only offer safety, but also provide advocacy, support, and other needed services. They might help with protection orders, as WAVI does, or refer him/her to someone who can help. If the first person contacted is not helpful, he/she should be encouraged to find assistance elsewhere.

WAVI is here to help survivors of domestic violence find solutions to empower them to leave an unsafe situation. Click below for more about how WAVI can help you or someone you love.

WAVI Services and Resources

What do the colors purple and teal stand for?

You may notice the colors purple and teal are used throughout our website, as well as on other WAVI materials. In addition to being beautiful colors, they also hold a significant meaning.

Teal represents sexual assault and sexual violence awareness and support.
Purple represents domestic violence awareness.

Please stand with us in spreading awareness for both of these important causes!


Myth: Alcohol causes domestic violence.

Fact: Although there is a high correlation between alcohol, or other substance abuse, and domestic violence, it is not the cause.