Frequently Asked Questions

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive, controlling behavior that can include physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, sexual abuse or financial abuse (using money and financial tools to exert control).

It is important to remember that the abuse is not the victim’s fault and there is help for those who are affected by domestic violence.

Information and support is available for victims of abuse, their friends and family. If you are in danger, call 911, a local hotline, or a national hotline.

While only the person using abusive behavior can stop the abuse, a survivor does have options in how they respond to the dangers they’re being exposed to. Whether they’re thinking of staying or leaving, survivors of domestic violence can explore options through a support group or anonymous calls to their local domestic violence program, and can consider obtaining a protection order or staying shelter.

Domestic violence programs offer a variety of services including 24-hour crisis lines, emergency shelter or shelter referral, advocacy, safety planning, counseling, children’s services, legal and medical advocacy, and other free and confidential services for survivors and their children.  The best answer is to contact your local domestic violence program for information on the services they provide.

All services provided by a domestic violence advocate working in a community-based program are confidential. This means that any information shared by a victim with an advocate will be held in confidence and cannot be shared. This is a privilege protected by law. A victim’s advocate shall not be examined as to any communication made to such victim’s advocate by a victim of domestic violence, as defined in section 18-6-800.3(1), C.R.S., or a victim of sexual assault, as described in sections 18-3-401 to 18-3-405.5, 18-6-301, and 18-6-302, C.R.S., in person or through the media of written records or reports without the consent of the victim.  
Limitations to Confidentiality:  There are very few limitations to confidentiality, and include only the reporting of known or suspected child abuse or neglect.

This is an understandable question because we are concerned for people who are being mistreated. At the same time, the better question is “Why does the abuser continue to hurt someone he claims to care about?”

While this can be confusing for friends and family, the bottom line is that on balance, the survivor, who is the expert on her situation, feels that this is the safest option for herself and her children. As friends and family who want to be helpful and supportive, we should seek to understand more of the factors that make separation dangerous for her.

People who use abusive behavior frequently escalate their abuse when their partner tries to separate. Attempting to leave can be the most dangerous time for a survivor.

Additionally, victims may stay because they are made to think they cannot survive on their own, financially or otherwise. Often abusers create a financial situation that makes leaving nearly impossible.

Survivors sometimes want the abuse to end, not the relationship. It is not easy for anyone to let go of hopes and dreams, and some abusers appear very sincere in their promises to change or to stop the abuse.

There is no way to spot an abuser in a crowd because they come from all walks of life. There is no typical demographic or psychological profile for an abuser. They do, however, engage in similar behaviors.

Some of the subtle warning signs include:

  • They may insist on moving too quickly into a relationship.
  • They can be very charming and may seem too good to be true.
  • They might insist that their partner stop participating in leisure activities or spending time with family and friends.
  • They can be extremely jealous or controlling.
  • They may not take responsibility for their actions and blame others for everything that goes wrong.
  • They might criticize their partner’s appearance and make frequent put-downs.
  • Their words and actions may not match.

Any one of these behaviors may not indicate abusive actions, but it’s important to know the red flags and take time to explore them.

Yes, but they must make the choice to change.

It’s not easy for an abuser to stop abusive behavior, and it requires a serious commitment to demonstrating changed attitudes and behaviors.

Sometimes an abuser stops the physical violence, but continues to employ other forms of abuse – emotional, sexual, or financial. Some abusers are able to exert complete control over a victim’s every action without using violence or only using subtle threats of violence. All types of abuse are devastating to victims.

Services that assist people in stopping abusive behavior are available around the state. Click here for a list of the Colorado Domestic Violence Offender Management Board’s approved treatment providers.

Yes, men are sometimes the victim of domestic violence. Male victims also receive free and confidential advocacy and support through domestic violence programs around the state.

Abuse stems from choices not biology. However, because of gender socialization, men are much more likely to engage in violence and controlling behavior. Most of the people who seek services at DV programs are women who are being abused by men, and in fact, domestic violence an epidemic health concern for women. The number one risk factor for being abused is being female, and one in four women will be the victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime (1). Furthermore, women are more likely to be seriously injured by a partner and women are 10x more likely than men to be murdered by a partner.

1. U.S. Department of Justice. (1998). Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends

Acknowledge that survivors are their own best experts and provide them with resources and support.

Speak out against domestic violence. The problem will continue until society stands up with one resounding voice and says, “No more!”

Challenge victim-blaming statements when you hear them. Victim-blaming attitudes shame the survivor and create barriers to coming forward and reporting the abuse.

Teach  your children about what healthy relationships look like by example and by talking about how to show respect and negotiate with others.

Call on your public officials to support life-saving domestic violence services and laws that hold perpetrators accountable.

Donate to local, statewide or national anti-domestic violence programs or victim assistance programs. Click here to make a donation to Violence Free Colorado.

Need more resources? Visit our Resources Page.