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Domestic Violence

“What do I do if my friend needs help?”

Abuse or assault is not a fun thing- to go through, to talk about, or to deal with. It can be hard to know what the right or wrong thing to do or say is. If someone trusts you enough to share that they have been abused, you can help them in a lot of ways.

1. Listen to and believe them.

Sharing their story can sometimes be just as traumatic as the actual event, so if a survivor wants to talk about it, listen. Try not to ask a lot of questions, and let them know that you care about them.

2. Know abuse is never the victim’s fault.

Sometimes it can be easy to believe that something ‘set off’ or ‘caused’ the abuser to act. The only person responsible for the abuse is the person who abused. Let your friend know that they are not in the wrong, and deserve to be treated better.

3. Find local resources that offer help.

It can be hard to know where to start when dealing with a stressful situation. Reach out to organizations that can help in relation to the abuse. The Peace at Home Shelter offers transitional housing, legal representation, and support with finding employment and support groups. We also offer community referrals. Other organizations have many of these same resources. You can also suggest making something like a Family Safety Plan, which is easily tailored to fit whatever emergency that may occur.

4. Respect their decisions.

Many survivors do not want to report the assault or abuse, or tell anyone else about what occurred. They know their situation better than you do, so let them make the calls.

5. Continue to support and help them.

Sometimes the best thing you can do for a survivor is be their friend. Being able to discuss what’s happening with someone can help release stress, clear up any confusion about the situation, and re-establish healthy connections. Do your best to genuinely be there, even after the situation is resolved.

If you have any questions about domestic abuse or assault, or need help, contact Peace at Home Shelter’s Crisis Hotline at 479-442-9811.

National Teen Dating and Violence Awareness Month

February is National Teen Dating and Violence Prevention and Awareness Month! While our primary focus here at The Peace at Home Shelter is empowering survivors of domestic violence, it’s important to know that relational abuse does not occur only between adults. In fact, it’s estimated that over 1.5 million high school students have experienced physical abuse in their relationships. The cycle of abuse is a learned behavior, and there is not any specific cap determining to or from whom, and where, it can happen.


(Graphic provided by BreaktheCycle, which has a lot of information on both domestic abuse and teen dating violence.)

Many signs of abuse in teenage relationships are similar to domestic abuse. A relationship may be unhealthy or abusive if a partner:

  • is extremely jealous/possessive
  • has an explosive temper or constant mood swings
  • uses technology/social media to stalk, threaten, or intimidate you
  • isolates you from family or friends
  • lies, ignores, or accuses you falsely of things
  • physically inflicts pain or threatens to hurt you
  • pressures you to to engage in activities you do not want to do

Any type of abuse is never caused by a survivor’s actions, despite how the abuser may defend themselves. If you or someone you know is at risk, there are many things you can do to get help.

  • talk with an adult you can trust about your relationship
  • end contact with the abuser/partner
  • block abuser on social media
  • change your phone number

Surviving and recovering from an abusive relationship takes intentional effort. Having the courage to get help and talk about it is the first step. A support system is very helpful for someone who has experienced dating violence or abuse. There are many resources available to help you navigate what can a scary, unsafe, and emotional situation. If you or someone you know wants to learn more about what teen dating violence can look like, check out Love Is Respect or the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.

Peace at Home Family Shelter cannot provide shelter to unaccompanied minors. Please contact us at 479-442-9811 if you have any questions or are in need of help.

Domestic Violence and Housing – Your Rights

In Arkansas, a landlord cannot:

  • refuse to enter into a rental agreement,
  • terminate a lease,
  • fail to renew a lease, or
  • evict a tenant

if their decision is based solely on the fact that the tenant has been a victim of domestic violence.

In addition to anti-discrimination laws, Arkansas rental laws provide the following protections for tenants who are survivors of domestic abuse:

  • Changing Locks

Tenants who have been victims of domestic violence are entitled to have their locks changed, at their expense, as long as they notify the landlord and provide them with a new key.

  • Damages

Landlords can seek damages from the abuser caused by an incident of domestic abuse and for any unpaid rent owed by the abuser.

  • Law Enforcement

Landlords cannot prohibit or penalize tenants for calling the police or emergency services in a domestic violence situation.

  • Court Order

If the court orders the abuser to stay away from a victim, and the abuser lives in the same house as the victim, the landlord can evict the abuser or forbid them from coming into the home.

If you are a domestic violence survivor and you are facing a housing issue, you do not have to go through the process alone. Peace at Home’s legal department can help you find legal representation, accompany you to the court hearing, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about legal services.

Domestic Violence and Child Custody FAQ

Child custody issues come up frequently when survivors of domestic violence leave the abusive relationship. Below are some of the most common questions we receive about child custody. Contact our legal department today at 479-442-9811 if you have additional questions or need legal representation.

Can an abusive parent get custody or visitation?

An abusive parent may be allowed custody or visitation if the judge believes you and your children can stay safe. To ensure this, the judge can require supervised visits or arrange for the pick-up and drop-off of your children to take place in a protected space.

If the judge does not believe you or your children are still in danger, he/she may order custody or visitation without any protective measures. As a result, it is important the judge believes you when you talk about the violence. You may want to keep evidence of the violence ready, if you have any.

If you feel there is a risk of violence, you can ask the judge:

  • For pick-up and drop-off of your children to happen in a protected place
  • To allow someone other than you to deliver or pick-up the children for visits
  • To allow only email contact between the parents

How does a judge make decisions about custody?

The judge will always look to the child’s best interests. So if you are filing for custody, you should be able to show how the custody arrangement you want is in your child’s best interests. To do this, you should be prepared with as much information as possible about yourself and the other parent. If you are accusing the other parent of abuse, the judge will look at the abuser’s history of causing such injury, physical harm, assault, or causing reasonable fear of injury, physical harm, and assault to another person.

A judge may look at a history of drug or alcohol abuse and order testing for either or both parents. If the child is of a sufficient age and mental capacity, the judge can also consider the preferences of the child.

What is mediation?

Mediation uses a neutral third-party to help parents agree on issues relating to custody and visitation of the child. The court may order you to take part in mediation.

You should talk to a lawyer or domestic violence advocate before going to mediation, or have a lawyer go with you if you can. Your abuser may use mediation as an opportunity for further control and abuse, and he/she may intimidate you into thinking an agreement is reasonable when it may not be. A lawyer and/or victim advocate can help you prepare for this.

How can Peace at Home help?

If you have experienced domestic violence and are going through a custody dispute with your abuser, you do not have to go through the process alone.  Peace at Home’s legal department can help you acquire legal representation, accompany you to the court hearing, provide you with emotional support, and help you develop a safety plan. Call 479.442.9811 to speak with an advocate about our legal services.

The Importance of Safe Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence

 

 

Survivors of domestic violence encounter many barriers when they choose to leave their abusive partner. Safe, affordable housing has become one of the primary obstacles that survivors face when seeking freedom and protection from their abuser.

The barriers that keep survivors of domestic violence from obtaining and maintaining safe housing often remain after the survivor has left the abusive relationship. There are many types of controlling abuse that a survivor can be exposed to during intimate partner violence, including financial abuse, emotional abuse, and isolation, all of which can delay survivors from finding housing and maintaining it.

Individuals who have experienced financial abuse may lack financial education as well as resources, which can make it that much more difficult for the survivor to leave. If someone has been isolated, another tactic used in domestic violence, they may lack a support system to assist them in leaving the abusive partner.

Evictions, criminal records, mental health, and other barriers can all stem from an abusive relationship, limiting his or her housing options.

Emergency shelter and transitional housing are critical for survivors to safely escape abusive relationships. The most dangerous time for a survivor of domestic violence is when they are leaving their abusive partner, or soon after; the intensified fear experienced during this time, in addition to the lack of support and resources to obtain and maintain housing, can lead a survivor to extreme danger or homelessness.

It’s critical that this need for housing is observed through a lens of trauma and healing. Survivors of domestic violence need safe, stable housing in order to recover from the abuse they have experienced and move forward in life.

If you or someone you know needs help getting out of domestic violence, please contact Peace at Home at 479.444.9811.