A User Guide to the Resources
|Note Regarding External Links on This Page
We are still in the process of converting the "external resource" links from our old computer system to our new one. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming task which, because of limited funds, we are undertaking on a time-available basis. In the meantime, many of these references can be found by using our Search Plus External Links system.
This User Guide was written by Davina Abujudeh, School of Conflict Analysis and Resolution (S-CAR), George Mason University, in December 2012. This piece was prepared as part of the S-CAR / Beyond Intractability Collaborative. Heidi Bucheister acted as a peer reviewer on this piece.
Domestic violence is often viewed by the general public as incidents that occur only within the confines of a relationship between two individuals. If the couple has children, the children may become intertwined into the conflict, but the potential for that conflict to spill over into other members sectors of the families is a topic that appears to be rarely discussed. Domestic violence is usually approached as a one-dimensional issue — a woman (typically) is being abused by her male spouse and needs to be empowered and given the supports to leave. Situations of domestic violence are rarely, if ever, this one-dimensional. The extended family of the partners involved in a domestic violence situation often play a crucial role in domestic violence situations, whether they're making the situation better, worse or stagnant. Below are some helpful resources for you to use if you or someone you know has family member who is experiencing domestic violence, or if you are simply curious about the topic. The sources are split into three categories: 1) Support resources for family members of individuals experiencing domestic violence, 2) Cultural factors involved in family members' responses to domestic violence, 3) General information on domestic violence and family behaviors that may enable domestic violence.
Support Resources for Family Members of Domestic Abuse Victims / Survivors
It is preferable for many people working within the realm of domestic violence to refer to the person experiencing domestic violence as a "survivor", rather than a "victim". The change in terminology may seem minor, but it is a change that can make a significant impact in how you are perceived by the survivor, and what they believe your perception of them is. There are many tips such as this that are not commonly known that can be used to your advantage when addressing a family member's domestic violence situation. These resources provide tips and pieces of advice for addressing a domestic violence situation with a family member. As a society that tends to engage in victim blaming without even realizing it, these resources will help you become more aware of your approach to a family member's situation and maximize your potential to be a positive support system for a survivor.
This website provides a brief introduction to dealing with a family member who is experiencing domestic violence and gives valuable tips on behaving in ways that are most supportive to the survivor.
The Domestic Abuse Intervention Services website provides a brief, easy to read guide on ways of identifying abuse in the family and a few tools on how to approach your family member and how to be most supportive to them. While it doesn't go into much detail, it is a great resource for someone who wants a brief overview.
This page begins with a touching story of a woman living through a domestic violence situation and her church's and family's responses to her situation. It is written specifically for members of the Catholic Church; however, the information about the best ways to approach a domestic violence situation are applicable to a person of any religious background. This page provides detailed instructions on what to do when you suspect a domestic violence situation in your family and provides insight to the experience from the survivor's perspective.
The DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence features a very brief summary of how to help a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence.
WomensLaw.org provides resources for a survivor who is preparing to leave a domestic violence situation, including steps toward obtaining a protective order, preparing for court and staying safe once a survivor leaves. Although this is targeted specifically to a survivor, as part of the survivor's support system, this is a helpful tool for other to use in providing guidance for a family member who is preparing to leave a domestic violence situation.
This is a page from the WomensLaw.org website that specifically addresses tips for being a source of support to a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence. It gives a thorough overview of many of the main points listed in the previous links, but is applicable to any person regardless of religion, culture, etc.
The entire National Network to End Domestic Violence website is an incredibly helpful resource, but this page in particular provides insight on some signs of domestic violence. If you believe that a family member is experiencing domestic violence but are not sure, these tips may help you determine whether or not domestic violence is occurring.
This comprehensive guide covers both child abuse and domestic violence, and provides information on the warning signs to
look out for, types of abuse, and resources for victims and the relatives of victims. (Note: this resource was not in the original user guide but was added later at the request of one of the workers at On the Wagon.)
Cultural Factors in Domestic Violence
In a multi-cultural society, we often try to avoid "labeling" behaviors, negative or positive, as being reflective of or part of a person's culture or identity. However, it is important to be aware of the cultural, societal, religious, etc. factors that may impact the way that we approach situations of domestic violence in our family. The resources below provide insight into different cultural theories related to domestic violence.
The Colorado Bar website provides an overview of the role culture may play in domestic violence situations and gives brief, generalized summaries of some of the challenges unique to different cultural groups. The page makes sure to state that these descriptions are generalizations and not reflective of every situation of domestic violence within each group.
This site provides an excellent overview of different reports and journal articles written about domestic violence in several different cultural groups.
This page provides information on cultural determinants of domestic violence within the immigrant community in the US. The immigrant population, specifically those who are undocumented, are particularly vulnerable to domestic violence and have a much harder time leaving an abusive relationship. This page discusses the experience of immigrant survivors of domestic violence in the US, explains why it is so much harder for an immigrant to leave an abusive relationship, and informs readers on the legal protections that are available to this population, regardless of their legal status.
This page gives an overview of domestic violence within the LGBT community. It provides statistical information on domestic violence within this community, informs readers on some of the challenges unique to survivors in this community and gives guidance on approaching situations of domestic violence within this community, which may be different from approaching a domestic violence situation within a straight relationship.
Another community that faces unique challenges in domestic violence and is often overlooked is the elder population. This website lists a multitude of resources for approaching and providing support for survivors of domestic violence who are older in age.
General Information on Domestic Violence & Enabling Behaviors
One of the most important strategies used in being a support system for a family member experiencing domestic violence, as repeated in almost every resource listed previously, is to educate oneself on domestic violence. Cases of domestic violence are not isolated experiences that occur randomly and with no connection to other cases. There are patterns of domestic violence, indications of abuse and behaviors that family members and friends engage in that actually enable or perpetuate domestic violence. The following links provide resources for family members to educate themselves about domestic violence.
This resource begins with the story of Nancy Kerrigan's father, Daniel Kerrigan, whose death was ruled a homicide. The perpetrator was his son and Nancy's brother, Mark. The author discusses the actions of Nancy and her mother after accusations were made against Mark and how those actions can be portrayed as being enabling. The author then goes into a discussion of certain trends people tend to follow when it comes to domestic violence which allow and even perpetuate the abuse.
The entire National Network to End Domestic Violence website is an excellent resource; however, this link brings you directly to the organization's "About Domestic Violence" page. This page has resources for learning about several different aspects of domestic violence, including frequently asked questions about domestic violence, shelters throughout the country and even information on the link between domestic violence and sexual assault.
The Office of Violence Against Women is an excellent resource for learning about many different forms of violence against women. This Department of Justice office is responsible for managing and implementing the Violence Against Women Act and serves as a source of information for individuals, resources for survivors and funding for anti-violence programs. This link brings you to a page that gives brief summaries on domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking (many of which frequently occur within one domestic violence situation) and also provides several hotline phone numbers for people who need help or to have questions answered. The entire website is an excellent resource, so you are encouraged to explore the site further.
The "Cycle of Violence" is a tool that many people consider to be central to the understanding of the process of domestic violence, and also serves as a way of explaining the question that most people have about domestic violence survivors: Why they stay in an abusive relationship. The cycle explains the "process" of domestic violence as most survivors experience it. Clicking on the "Next" button at the bottom of the page will bring you to the "Power & Control" wheel, which goes into more detail about each portion of the process.
The US Department of Health & Human Services provides a definition of domestic violence in the eyes of the government. It is important to have an idea of how the government views domestic violence because that perception shapes the laws that may protect or hurt your family member. While federal guidelines are important to know, it is also important to be knowledgeable of the state and local laws regarding domestic violence in the area where your family member lives.
This page has a wealth of information about the causes of domestic-abuse, the link between substance abuse and domestic abuse, and it contains resources for survivors, friends, and family members. (Note: this resource was not in the original user guide but was added later at the request of one of the workers at Drugrehab.com.)
Violence Prevention & Conflict Resolution
It's important to keep in mind that domestic violence is a learned pattern of behavior for people in response to frustration, anger, or conflict. Therefore, key to preventing it (either before the first occurrence or preventing repetitive violent actions) is helping people learn alternative ways of dealing with such emotions and conflict. A few websites that have resources that are helpful in this respect are:
The National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women provides manuals, toolkits and exercises geared towards teaching skills to resolve conflict. These resources are very hands-on and are good ways to learn and practice skills to deal with conflict. This will be helpful for the couple experiencing domestic violence, as well other family members dealing with the situation. These resources can be used to to prevent the conflict with extended family members from increasing.
This brief article by Rose Garrity gives information about mediating domestic violence situations. It provides a quick overview of domestic violence and its consequences, followed by information about whether or not mediation is appropriate for a particular situation, when a good time to try mediation is, situations where mediation is not recommended, and advice for people attempting to mediate a domestic violence situation. This resource is helpful regardless of what your relationship to the couple is.
The Prevention Institute provides useful information about conflict resolution and prevention in general. While it is not specifically referring to domestic violence situations, the information in this piece is extremely helpful for figuring out ways to approach both conflict resolution and violence prevention, and why the two aren't as separate as people may believe them to be.
HelpGuide.org provides general background information on relationship conflicts, and how to deal with them in a healthy manner. The page begins with a declaration that conflict is a normal part of healthy relationships, something that is important for everyone to remember. It then gives helpful information about understanding relationship conflicts, healthy and unhealthy ways of dealing with conflict, and some tools on resolving conflicts in relationships. This is a very useful page to use as an outsider wishing to help a domestic violence situation or to give to a person who is in an abusive relationship.
"Conflict Resolution: The Human Dimension", written by John W. Burton of George Mason University, explores some of the theories of conflict in general. While this is more of a scholarly piece of work rather than a resource per se, it is relatively brief, easy to understand, and provides an excellent background for conflict resolution, societal roles, gendered aggression and other topics that will be very useful in preventing violence and resolving conflicts.
An excellent resource for domestic violence situations in post-conflict settings, the Wilson Center provides this article as well as a video reviewing various aspects of dealing with domestic violence on an international scale. This resource will be helpful for someone working in international policy or international development.
As a family member, it is vital to a survivor for you to be supportive, equipped with knowledge and non-judgmental when dealing with abusive situations. You do not want the conflict between the two members of the relationship to spill over into the rest of the family and make an already bad situation worse. These resources will help you to be an effective advocate for your family member. Remember, also, to be mindful of your own emotions during this process, and to do what you need to do to take care of yourself.