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For Domestic Violence Survivors and their Family, Friends and Co-workers

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is domestic violence?
Domestic violence behavior involves gaining and maintaining power and control in an intimate relationship. It can be physical, sexual, psychological, economic, verbal or spiritual.

Who are the victims?
Women in heterosexual relationships make up the majority of persons experiencing domestic violence, but it can occur in any type of relationship married, separated, divorced, dating, heterosexual, gay or lesbian. It involves people of all races, ethnicities, socio-economic classes, religions and ages, and spills into our schools and our places of work.

Why dont victims leave?
There are many barriers to leaving an abusive relationship. Fear is often a primary reason, since the risk of homicide increases dramatically when a victim leaves. Love is also a factor. Most women do not want to end the relationship they just want the violence to stop.

Economics present a huge obstacle if a victim has no access to money, a choice to move out may be a choice to live in poverty and homelessness. This may be an especially difficult choice if there are children, because batterers often threaten to take custody if their partner leaves. The victim may be so isolated from family, friends and community that she feels she has no support. Societal, cultural and religious pressures might also all prevent her from leaving. And if she is an immigrant, she might fear deportation.

Who are the batterers?
Batterers can be anyone. While women may sometimes be the batterers in heterosexual or lesbian relationships, the majority of batterers are men. They are of all races, ethnicities, cultures, socio-economic classes, ages, religions or sexual orientations. They may have rigid beliefs about gender roles. And, they may also have learned abusive tactics from adult role models in their youth.

How are children affected?
Children witnessing violence in the home might have emotional responses similar to children who have been physically and emotionally abused. Children who witness domestic violence can grow up to be batterers or victims, although supportive adult family members and friends can help prevent these adverse effects and stop the cycle of violence.

How can I make a difference?
Domestic violence is a community issue. Each of us needs to commit to zero tolerance of abuse and violence when we hear and see it. For ideas on how to take action against domestic violence, visit the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence Web site.

Additional Information

Voluntary Surrender of Firearms in Domestic Violence Cases


For more information, call the Seattle Human Services Departments Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention program at 206-386-1001.

For more information about our partners and other programs and services, visit:

Seattle Human Services Department
Street address: 700 5th Avenue, Suite 5800, Seattle, WA 98104
Mailing address: PO Box 34215, Seattle, WA 98124-4215

Phone: 206-386-1001
Fax: 206-233-5119
TTY/TTD: 206-233-2778

Accommodations for people with disabilities provided upon request.