Domestic Violence
Help Us Get Safe!


H.U.G.S. Sharon is committed to making our community safer by educating the public regarding violence in relationships and by providing assistance to victims and families affected by domestic violence.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in an intimate relationship when one person tries to gain or maintain power and control over the other person.

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating. While women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused-especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well.

Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical.

Many people who are being abused do not see themselves as victims. Also, abusers do not see themselves as being abusive. People often think of domestic violence as physical violence, such as hitting It doesn’t have to be physical to be abuse. However, domestic violence takes other forms, such as psychological, emotional, or sexual abuse. It can happen all the time or once in a while.



Recognizing abuse

is the first step to ending it
Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. 

Does your partner:

If you answered ‘yes’ to even one of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship.

Emotional abuse

It’s a bigger problem than you think
When people think of domestic abuse, they often picture battered women who have been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. Many men and women suffer from emotional abuse, which is no less destructive. Unfortunately, emotional abuse is often minimized or overlooked—even by the person being abused.

Understanding emotional abuse

The aim of emotional abuse is to chip away at your feelings of self-worth and independence. If you’re the victim of emotional abuse, you may feel that there is no way out of the relationship or that without your abusive partner you have nothing.

Abusers who use emotional or psychological abuse often throw in threats of physical violence or other repercussions if you don’t do what they want.

You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so.

You may be in an emotionally abusive relationship if your partner:

Economic or financial abuse

A subtle form of emotional abuse.

Remember, an abuser’s goal is to control you, and he or she will frequently use money to do so Economic or financial abuse includes:

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is the use of physical force against someone in a way that injures or endangers that person. Physical assault or battering is a crime, whether it occurs inside or outside of the family. The police have the power and authority to protect you from physical attack.
You may be in a physically abusive relationship if your partner has ever:

Sexual abuse

is a form of physical abuse

Any situation in which you are forced to participate in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity is sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with whom you also have consensual sex, is an act of aggression and violence. Furthermore, people whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a higher risk of being seriously injured or killed
You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:

If you answered ‘yes’ to these questions you may be in an abusive relationship; please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or your local domestic violence center to talk with someone about it.


If you are being abused, REMEMBER

You are NOT Alone

It is Not Your Fault

Help Is Available




General Warning Signs of Intimate Partner Abuse

It’s impossible to know with certainty what goes on behind closed doors, but there are some telltale signs and symptoms of emotional abuse and domestic violence. If you witness any warning signs of abuse in a friend, family member, or co-worker, take them very seriously.

People who are being abused may:

Warning signs of physical violence

People who are being physically abused may:

Warning signs of isolation

People who are being isolated by their abuser may:

The psychological warning signs of abuse

People who are being abused may:

Speak Up if you suspect domestic violence or abuse

If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, speak up! If you’re hesitating—telling yourself that it’s none of your business, you might be wrong, or the person might not want to talk about it—keep in mind that expressing your concern will let the person know that you care and may even save his or her life.

Violent and abusive behavior is the abuser’s choice

Abusers are not easy to spot. There is no ‘typical’ abuser. In public, they may appear friendly and loving to their partner and family. They often only abuse behind closed doors. They also try to hide the abuse by causing injuries that can be hidden and do not need a doctor.

Abuse is not an accident. It does not happen because someone was stressed-out, drinking, or using drugs. Abuse is an intentional act that one person uses in a relationship to control the other. Abusers have learned to abuse so that they can get what they want.

Abusers often have low self-esteem. They do not take responsibility for their actions. They may even blame the victim for causing the violence. In most cases, men abuse female victims. It is important to remember that women can also be abusers and men can be victims.

Despite what many people believe, domestic violence and abuse is not due to the abuser’s loss of control over his or her behavior. In fact, abusive behavior and violence is a deliberate choice made by the abuser in order to control you.

Abusers use a variety of tactics to manipulate you and exert their power… Learn More


Abusers are able to control their behavior—they do it all the time


The cycle of violence in domestic abuse

Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of violence:



Your abuser’s apologies and loving gestures in between the episodes of abuse can make it difficult to leave. He may make you believe that you are the only person who can help him, that things will be different this time, and that he truly loves you. However, the dangers of staying are very real.

The Full Cycle of Domestic Violence: An Example

A man abuses his partner. After he hits her, he experiences self-directed guilt. He says, “I’m sorry for hurting you.” What he does not say is, “Because I might get caught.” He then rationalizes his behavior by saying that his partner is having an affair with someone. He tells her “If you weren’t such a worthless whore I wouldn’t have to hit you.” He then acts contrite, reassuring her that he will not hurt her again. He then fantasizes and reflects on past abuse and how he will hurt her again. He plans on telling her to go to the store to get some groceries. What he withholds from her is that she has a certain amount of time to do the shopping. When she is held up in traffic and is a few minutes late, he feels completely justified in assaulting her because “you’re having an affair with the store clerk.” He has just set her up.

Source: Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Service

Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.

read more…

Teen Dating Abuse

Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.
One in five tweens – age 11 to 14 – say their friends are victims of dating violence and nearly half who are in relationships know friends who are verbally abused. Two in five of the youngest tweens, ages 11 and 12, report that their friends are victims of verbal abuse in relationships.

Teen victims of physical dating violence are more likely than their non-abused peers to smoke, use drugs, engage in unhealthy diet behaviors (taking diet pills or laxatives and vomiting to lose weight), engage in risky sexual behaviors, and attempt or consider suicide.

Warning Signs of Abuse

Because relationships exist on a spectrum, it can be hard to tell when a behavior crosses the line from healthy to unhealthy or even abusive. Use these warning signs of abuse to see if your relationship is going in the wrong direction:

Dating Basics
Relationships exist on a spectrum, from healthy to unhealthy to abusive — and everywhere in between. It can be hard to determine where your relationship falls, especially if you haven’t dated a lot. Explore this section to learn the basics of dating, healthy relationships and drawing the line before abuse starts.
Is My Relationship Healthy?
Read more…

Texting and Sexting
Next to talking one-on-one, texting is currently one of the most instant forms of communication. While texting might be the perfect platform to say a quick “hi,” there are some things to watch out for in a textual relationship with your partner.

One in five teen girls and one in ten younger teen girls (age 13 to 16) have electronically sent or posted nude or semi-nude photos or videos of themselves. Even more teen girls, 37 percent, have sent or posted sexually suggestive text, email or IM (instant messages).
(The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and and Tech: Results from a Survey of Teens and Young Adults, 2008.)

Texting Too Much
If your partner texts too much, it’s not only irritating, but unnecessary. Read more…

Should We Break Up?
If you’re in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, figuring out the next step can be very difficult. read more…

Dating abuse is more than just arguing or fighting.
Teen dating violence is just as serious as adult domestic violence. Abusive relationships have good times and bad times. Part of what makes dating violence so confusing and painful is that there is love mixed with the abuse. This can make it hard to tell if you are really being abused. The Healthy Relationship Wheel/Equality Wheel will help you understand relationships better.

Unfortunately, without help, the violence will only get worse. If you think you may be in an abusive relationship, please call the National Dating Abuse Helpline– 866-331-9474 to talk with someone about it. You can also call the Helpline for more information about dating violence or other resources for teens.

Help Your Child
Knowing that your son or daughter is in an unhealthy relationship can be both frustrating and frightening. But as a parent, you’re critical in helping your child develop healthy relationships and can provide life-saving support if they’re in an abusive relationship. Remember, dating violence occurs in both same-sex and opposite-sex couples and either gender can be abusive.

Research shows that 98 percent of teenage girls who have been abused continue to date the abuser. Your teen could be one of them.
If you suspect your daughter/son is in an abusive relationship, go through the following checklist of warning signs:

  1. Does your son or daughter apologize for their partner’s behavior and make excuses for them?
  2. Is she/he losing interest in activities that they used to enjoy?
  3. Has she/he stopped seeing friends and family members and become more isolated?
  4. When your child and partner are together, does he/she  call her/him names and put he/himr down in front of other people? Does she/he seem intimidated by him?
  5. Does your child’s partner act extremely jealous of others who pay attention to her/him, especially other guys/girls?
  6. Does your child’s partner think or tell your daughter/son that you don’t like them?
  7. Does your child’s partner control her/his  behavior, check up on them constantly, and call and text them, demanding to know who she/he has been with? Does your child’s partner control where she/he goes, what she/he wears and who she/he sees?
  8. Does she/he casually mention their partner’s violent behavior, but laugh it off as a joke?
  9. Does your child often have unexplained injuries or offer explanations that don’t make sense?
  10. Have you seen your child’s partner violently lose his/her temper, striking or breaking objects or destroyed his/her property?
  11. Does your child’s partner criticize her /his parenting and threaten to take away or hurt her/his children?
  12. Has your child’ partner threatened her life?
  13. Does your child’s partner email or text excessively?
  14. Do you notice that your son or daughter is depressed or anxious?
  15. Does your child’s partner abuse other people or animals?
  16. Does your child dress differently?

If you answered yes to even one of these questions, your daughter/son may be in an abusive relationship.

For support and more information please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or at TTY 1-800-787-3224.


14 Tween and Teen Dating Violence and Abuse Study, Teenage Research Unlimited for Liz Claiborne Inc. and the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline. February 2008. Available at > 
15 Silverman, J, Raj A, et al. 2001. Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls and Associated Substance Use, Unhealthy Weight Control, Sexual Risk Behavior, Pregnancy, and Suicidality. JAMA. 286:572-579. Available at


Stalking is a serious crime that affects 1 out of every 12 women and 1 out of every 45 men during their lifetime. In most cases the stalker isn’t a stranger. The stalker may be a current or former intimate partner, a friend, customer, coworker, or an acquaintance. 77% of female victims and 64% of male victims know their stalkers.

What is stalking?

Stalking is generally defined as any unwanted contact that communicates a threat or places the victim in fear.

Stalkers are often obsessed with their victims. A stalker may monitor a victim’s actions including her/his whereabouts, conversations with other people, and internet and email usage. The stalker’s motivation typically is to gain and maintain control over the victim. Some individuals may use stalking as a way to try to re-establish a former intimate relationship or to feel connected to a person with whom they do not and/or cannot have a relationship.

What counts as stalking?

Stalking behavior and conduct can range from very subtle behavior to extreme and outrageous acts that might sound unbelievable to those less familiar with stalking. A stalker might engage in only one form of stalking behavior while another might engage in a wide variety of different and unpredictable stalking activities.

Celebrity stalking, while very serious, accounts for a small percentage of all stalking cases. Most stalking cases are in the context of domestic violence – the victim is living in fear of someone they once loved and trusted in an intimate partner relationship.

A stalker’s behavior might include:

Stalking: Myths and Facts
MYTH: You can’t be stalked by someone you’re dating.
FACT: If your “friend” tracks your every move in a way that causes you fear, that is stalking.
MYTH: If you ignore stalking, it will go away.
FACT: Stalkers seldom “just stop”. Victims should help from law enforcement to stop the stalking.
MYTH: If you confront the stalker, he or she will go away.
FACT: Confronting or trying to reason with a stalker can be dangerous. Get Help.

Stalking is a Crime

Legal definitions of stalking vary from state to state. In Massachusetts, there are 2 laws that address stalking behavior and patterns. Read more…


For more information on stalking visit:
National Center for Victims of Crime Stalking Resource Center

Workplace Violence

On September 25, 2007, CAEPV, Liz Claiborne and Safe Horizon released a groundbreaking survey on corporate executives and employee awareness of the impact of domestic violence in the workplace.

Surprisingly, the survey shows that a significant majority of corporate executives and their employees from the nation’s largest companies recognize the harmful and extensive impact of domestic violence in the workplace, yet only 13% of corporate executives think their companies should address the problem.

The attitudes of executives differ dramatically from an overwhelming majority of employees (84%) who believe that corporations should be a part of the solution to addressing domestic violence.

Although nearly 2 in 3 corporate executives (63%) say that domestic violence is a major problem in our society and 55% cite its harmful impact on productivity in their companies, a majority of top executives have blinders on when it comes to seeing the reality of domestic violence victims working in their own companies.

(Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence, September 2007)

How to Help a Coworker Who Is Experiencing Abuse

Approximately 74% of employed domestic violence victims are contacted or harassed by their abusers while they are at work. Based on this statistic alone, it is possible that during your professional career, you may encounter a coworker ( )who is experiencing domestic violence.

If someone is experiencing abuse at home, the effects of the abuse are likely to carry over into the work environment as well. You may notice changes in their behavior at work that could indicate that something is wrong. For instance:

Follow your instinct, and if you feel like you should talk to them about what might be going on, do so. The worst that could happen is that they don’t want to talk – and even then, they at least know that you care. There’s no harm in asking. Work may be the one place where they can talk to someone safely without the abusive partner finding out. Also, your coworker may believe that you are more objective to their situation than family and close friends.

Be sure to approach them in a confidential manner, at a time and place without interruptions. When approaching the topic of domestic violence with your coworker, remember to be nonjudgmental. They may be embarrassed by the situation, and you might be the first person they are telling. Consider starting with a simple comment and question like, “You seem a bit preoccupied/stressed. Do you want to talk about it?” Give them the space to share what they want to share with you. Don’t pressure them.

If your coworker does open up to you about the abuse, listen and refer. Your role is not to fix the problem for them – sometimes, listening can be the most helpful. You might want to pass along some information to them. If it feels appropriate, pass on the number of the Hotline. We can help your coworker safety plan around their current situation and can refer them to local service providers.

If your coworker gives you permission, you can help them document the instances of domestic violence in their life. Take pictures of injuries, write down exact transcripts of interactions, make notes on a calendar of the dates that things happen. Documenting the abuse might help the victim to obtain legal aid later on.

If your coworker has been open with you about their situation, you can help them learn about their rights. Women’s Law is an excellent resource for information on domestic violence laws and procedures. Browsing this website with your coworker or giving them the link can provide them with crucial information.

Introduce them to the security guard, or volunteer to meet the security guard with them if they’d like help. Keeping the security guard at the office in the loop can help deter your coworker’s abuser from stopping by, make sure your coworker is escorted safely to and from the office space, and more.

Ask if they’d like to create a safety plan for their work environment. Ask what they would like you to do if their partner should call or stop by the office. If you’re having trouble coming up with a safety plan on your own, call The Hotline for assistance.

Above all remember that just supporting your coworker no matter what can make a difference. Respect their decisions – you may not know all of the factors involved. Your coworker may not do what you want or expect them to do. Instead of focusing on being the one to solve the problem for them, focus on being supportive and trustworthy in their time of need. (corporate alliance to end partner violence)

Learn More

Pregnancy, Children and Abuse

Pregnancy is a particularly perilous time for an abused woman. Not only is your health at risk, but also the health of your unborn child. Pregnant and recently pregnant women are more likely to be victims of homicide than to die of any other cause, Abuse can begin or may increase during pregnancy.

How many children witness the abuse of their mothers?

Studies show that 3-4 million children between the ages of 3-17 are at risk of exposure to domestic violence each year. Abusive relationships can be very damaging to children, even if they are just witnesses.

Witnessing can mean SEEING actual incidents of physical/and or sexual abuse. It can mean HEARING threats or fighting noises from another room. Children may also OBSERVE the aftermath of physical abuse such as blood, bruises, tears, torn clothing, and broken items. Finally children may be AWARE of the tension in the home such as their mother’s fearfulness when the abuser’s car pulls into the driveway.

You may worry that seeking help may further endanger you or your children, or that it may break up the family ,but in the long run, seeking help when you safely can is the best way to protect your children- and yourself.
What are the feelings of children who are exposed to battering? Read more…

How Domestic Violence Affects Children

Domestic violence doesn’t just damage the person who is abused. Kids can be affected by family violence in all kinds of ways. Following are some symptoms/effects. Keep in mind that isolated incidents probably aren’t indicative of a problem; it’s more important to look for patterns and extremes. Read more…

For Adults

One resource for learning how to assist children in these situations is Lundy Bancroft’s “Helping Your Children Heal the Wounds of Witnessing Abuse,” in which he shares ways parents can encourage their children to cope, heal and talk about the abuse they’ve seen.

Have conversations. Let children know that it’s okay to talk about what has happened.

Remind your kids that the abuse is never their fault. Make sure that they know that you care about them. Children are extremely resilient, and while the impact of abuse can be long lasting, knowing that they have someone to depend on that loves them will help them heal.

Above all, proceed with caution and listen to your instincts. Tap into what you feel is best for both you and your child. There are often pros and cons of either staying with or leaving an abusive partner. It can be a dangerous situation either way. If you do decide to leave your relationship, consider when and how to best leave. Allow children to be open about their feelings in the process, and devise a safety plan (whether staying or leaving).

Call The Hotline toll free, 24/7 at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for more information about what you can do.

Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

It can be hard to understand why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. The reasons vary from the financial to the psychological, and it’s rarely as easy as just walking away. Not leaving does not mean that the situation is okay or that the victim wants to be abused.







Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Why doesn’t she just leave? It’s the question many people ask when they learn that a woman is being battered and abused. But if you are in an abusive relationship, you know that it’s not that simple. If you are being abused, remember:

Stay Safe Action Plan

The most violent time in an abusive relationship is the minute the woman leaves, or tries to leave. In fact, in domestic violence cases, more than 70 percent of injuries and murders happen after the victim leaves. This phenomenon is known as separation assault. After following the Exit Action Plan for how to leave an abusive relationship safely, know the plan for staying safe!

An Exit Action Plan

Guidelines for Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Planning a safe exit from an abusive relationship is a necessary and important step before breaking the ties with your partner. The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests following these steps to improve your chances of leaving safely.

If you get a restraining order, and the offender is leaving:

If you leave:

Sue Else, president of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, offers steps for staying safe after leaving an abusive relationship:

Consider going to a shelter
Domestic violence shelters are available to provide safety and to help you get on your feet. In addition to safety, they provide services, support and resources for you and your children.

Secure your new home
Consider new window and door locks, outdoor lights, an alarm system, steel doors and smoke detectors.

Don’t move to a secluded area
Move to a neighborhood with lots of neighbors, perhaps an apartment complex, with a Neighborhood Watch program.

Keep new address confidential
Get a P.O. Box, and don’t give out your real address. Try to rent a home that has utilities included, sign up for an Address Confidentiality Program through your state government, and make sure your voter registration doesn’t have your address. Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports. Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.

Stay off social networking websites
You don’t want information about who you’re friends with and what you’re doing public. You don’t know who could be friends with your ex.

Obtain a protection order
Keep a copy on you at all times. Give copies to family, friends, co-workers and your children’s school.

Change your patterns
Shop at new stores, take different routes to work, change coffee shops and gas stations, go to a faith service at a different time, switch to a new bank.

Secure your accounts
Change your passwords, PIN codes, and call utility companies and ask them to add a password that only you know to your account.

Get a new computer
Spyware could be on your old computer, allowing the abuser to know everything you do on the computer and read all of your e-mail.

Get a new cell phone and number
Verizon HopeLine donates phones to victims through local shelters. Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so that if you call anyone, neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.

Protect yourself at work
Alert your supervisor and the security staff, remove your number from the office directory, and even change office locations. Ask security to walk you to your car.

Safety plan with your children
Teach children what to do if the abuser kidnaps them or breaks into the house. You don’t want to scare your children, but help them be prepared. Alert the school or daycare of the danger.

Don’t isolate yourself
Don’t park your car in large parking garages, jog at night or in secluded areas. Park as close to the location as possible.

Document everything
Keep records of all texts, e-mails, stalking and harassment. Keep video or written journal ” and hide it!

Keep loved ones informed
Always tell a trusted person where you are going, EVERY DAY. Have check-in times so loved ones always know you are safe.

Be prepared
Have 911 ready to call when you are walking to your car. Be aware of your environment; if something feels out of the ordinary, IT IS!

Have a bag packed
Include an extra set of keys, identification, car title, birth certificate, social security, clothes for you and your children, shoes, money, jewelry ” anything important to you.

If you leave:

An Abuse Prevention Order, called a “209A Order,” or a “protective order,” or “restraining order,” is a civil court order intended to provide protection from physical or sexual harm caused by force or threat of harm from a family or household member.
You can obtain an order against:

  1. a spouse or former spouse
  2. a present or former household member
  3. a relative by blood or a present or former relative by marriage
    the parent of your minor child
  4. a person with whom you have or had a substantial dating relationship


A 209A Order can be obtained in any District Court, Superior Court , or Probate and Family Court in Massachusetts.

An emergency 209A Order can be obtained through any police department after court hours, on weekends and holidays. You do not need a lawyer to file for a 209A Order and there is no charge for filing.

Technology Safety

Technology is wonderful thing. Most people don’t use technology as a form of control, but sometimes abusers use technology to monitor their partners. Here are some things to keep in mind if you believe your partner may be trying to control or spy on you with technology.

Safe Computer Use
If an abuser has access to your computer, they can monitor what you do by installing programs that keep a record of everything that happens on the computer. The most common form of computer monitoring is the use of a program called a key-logger, which records everything you type. These programs are targeted towards parents worried about their children’s internet use, but they can also be misused to spy on adults. However, if you uninstall the program, the person who installed it will probably find out. It may be safer to simply use a different computer when you look for help or a new place to live, for example. It may be safest to use a computer at a public library, community center, or Internet café.

An easy way to increase your privacy is to always empty the “Recycle” or “Trash Bin” of any documents before shutting down the computer. Make this a regular routine so it is not an unusual action that may trigger suspicion.

Safe Web Browsing
Your web browser keeps a record of every webpage that you visit. While this cannot be completely erased from your computer, clearing your browser’s “history” is an easy way to increase your privacy. Read more…


One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime.
Domestic violence affects 25% of all American families and can have a devastating impact on both survivors and children.

Domestic violence accounts for as many as 35% of all hospital emergency department visits by women.

80% of women who are stalked by a former husband are physically assaulted by that partner.  30% are sexually assaulted by that partner.

2012 Domestic Violence Census

Massachusetts Summary
On September 12, 2012, 54 out of 54, or 100% of identified local domestic Violence programs in Massachusetts, participated in the 2012 national Census of Domestic Violence Services.

Read more about how many received services and how many requests were unmet on just one day.