For women and children experiencing domestic abuse

If you are being abused, it may help to remember this:

  • you are not alone – one woman in four is abused during her lifetime
  • you do not have to deal with this on your own
  • the abuse is not your fault
  • you cannot change your partner
  • domestic violence is against the law

Keeping safe

Recognising that you are being abused is an important step. Where you go from here is up to you. You may feel you need time to think about your situation or you have already made up your mind to leave. Whatever you decide, your safety is always the priority.

For families and single women facing homelessness

According to recent research, the number of families with children who lose their homes is increasing. With the rise in poverty levels, many families barely make ends meet. If you face the possibility of losing your home, Casa Ioana can offer some advice on how to prevent it and how to survive if it happens to you.

Keeping safe

If you do lose your home, remember that sleeping on the streets can be cold and dangerous. It is important to keep safe, warm and well while you find a place to stay until you resolve the crisis.

Help for abused women

Your partner does not have the right to dominate and control you. You and your children have the right to live in safety.
At Casa Ioana, we understand how difficult it can be to live with abuse. You might feel scared, isolated and confused. You might feel too ashamed or afraid to tell anyone about your situation. However, you are not alone – there are several domestic violence organisations like Casa Ioana to help you. Please see our section on Useful links.

The way forward

Recognising that you are being abused is an important step. You do not have to decide whether to leave the relationship right away. Only you know what the right decision is for you. Take it one-step at a time and with each step, you will feel stronger.

Domestic violence organisations should support you whatever you decide. They manage a wide-range of services, and will not judge you or tell you what to do. They will not tell anyone that you have been in touch with them. Although it may feel impossible now, you can rebuild your life free from violence and fear and organisations like Casa Ioana are here to help you.

Keeping safe

Deciding what to do can take time. You may wish to involve the police, talk to a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana, or finish your relationship. Whatever you decide, your safety is always most important.

Domestic violence organisations run a range of services that can help keep you and your children safe and help you obtain a restraining order to prevent your abuser contacting you.

If you are still living with your abuser, think about how to protect yourself and your children:

  • be ready to call 112 if you or your children are in danger
  • make notes of abusive incidents, including times, dates, names and details of injuries – these can be important if you need to take legal action against your abuser
  • keep some money and a set of keys in a safe place, maybe with a neighbour or a friend
  • find out about your legal and housing rights – talk to a domestic violence organisation, a local authority housing department or a lawyer
  • keep copies of important papers (identification cards, passports, birth certificates, marriage certificate) in a safe place
  • carry a list of emergency numbers: police, relatives, friends, a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana
  • tell someone you trust about the abuse
  • make calls from a phone box or from a friend’s house
  • report any injuries to your family doctor so there is a record of the abuse
  • talk to family and friends about staying with them in an emergency
  • think about escape routes

Looking after yourself is important. Do something you enjoy. Taking time to read a book, walk in the park or listen to some music can help you feel more able to cope with what is happening. Above all, remember that the abuse is not your fault.

If you’ve finished your relationship and live at home, but are still in danger:

  • change the locks
  • think about escape routes
  • report injuries to your family doctor so there is a record of the abuse
  • contact a domestic violence organisation or see a lawyer – they can make you aware of your rights and help you get a court order to protect you from your partner

Planning to leave

If you have decided to leave your partner, remember that it can be dangerous. Your partner may feel like he has lost control over you – and he may resort to more extreme measures to regain that control. Make sure you plan your departure safely. Call a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana to talk through your options or find a place in a domestic violence shelter.

It will help if you can take the items listed below, but only if you have the opportunity to and that you are sure it is safe to do so.

  • identification and other important papers (e.g. birth certificates, identity cards, passports, benefit books, bank account details, medical records, court orders, marriage certificate, etc.)
  • money
  • phone numbers – emergency and personal
  • spare set of house and car keys
  • medicines and toiletries
  • clothes for a few days
  • a few of your children’s favourite toys
  • proof of the abuse (e.g. notes, photos, crime reference numbers, diary, taped messages)

Leave a note for your abuser saying that you have left with the children and that they are safe, and that someone will contact him in the near future. Keep a copy of the note.

Will he change?

It is natural to hope that your partner will change, or that the abuse will stop. Nevertheless, the truth is that domestic violence usually gets worse over time.

It is possible for an abusive man to change his behaviour. But first he must:

  • face the truth – he must admit that his behaviour is unacceptable and take responsibility for his actions
  • stop blaming you for what happens and not blame alcohol, drugs, stress or unemployment – these are simply excuses for violence
  • accept that you have a right to live your life without being dominated and controlled
  • learn to respect you
  • recognise that violence is a choice

Abusive men have learned to use violence and abuse to control their partner. What they have learned can be unlearned. Counselling of any kind will not work unless an abuser accepts that his behaviour is about control. It is not the relationship that must change, but his behaviour.

What about my children?

Domestic violence affects children in many different ways. By talking and listening to your children, you can help them deal with what is happening.

How will the abuse affect my children?

Children living with domestic violence can respond to their situation in different ways. They may feel frightened, insecure and confused. Often, they learn to keep their feelings and fears to themselves. They may feel like the violence must be kept secret and not tell anyone what is happening.

Some children have difficulties with school and become aggressive or have trouble sleeping. Others will be ‘model’ students because they are anxious about ‘conflict’ and worried about making things worse at home. Other children experience frequent headaches or constant coughs and colds.

With support, children can cope with and make sense of what is happening. They can overcome the trauma of witnessing or experiencing violence, and go on to live safe, happy lives.

Domestic violence organisations like Casa Ioana believe that no child should have to live with fear or abuse. Specialist staff understands the complex ways in which domestic violence can affect children and will support them to rebuild their lives.

How can I help my children?

  • talk openly with them and answer any questions they may have, as honestly as you can
  • make sure they know that the abuse is not their fault
  • teach them that abuse is not acceptable
  • help them discuss their feelings – keeping everything inside can create additional pressure – listen to what they have to say and respond with understanding
  • avoid burdening them with adult responsibilities – as much as they may want to help, it is not their job to look after you
  • encourage them to mix with other people – contact with other people will make your children feel less isolated and boost their confidence – they will also have the opportunity to see other men behaving respectfully towards their partners
  • help them to stay safe – teach them to call 112 and speak to the police so they know how to get emergency help, however, warn them that it is dangerous to intervene if you are being attacked – help them understand that they are not responsible for protecting you
  • teach them to reach out for help by doing so yourself – show them that getting help is a positive step and that it is not shameful
  • try to boost their self-esteem by letting them know you love them – praise them and encourage their interests

Domestic violence organisations like Casa Ioana can help support women and children who are in the process of going through the criminal justice system with a case against their abuser

Money worries

Everyone has the right to financial independence. If your partner is controlling your money or other financial assets, you are experiencing financial abuse. This is a form of domestic violence.

Your partner may be controlling you financially in a number of different ways. These can include:

  • preventing you from getting or keeping a job
  • making you ask for money
  • making you account for every penny you spend by showing receipts
  • not allowing you to spend money on yourself or your children
  • controlling your bank account
  • stealing, taking or demanding money from you
  • taking control of any welfare benefits that you receive
  • insisting that all the utility bills or any credit is in your name
  • placing debts in your name

Help for abused teenage girls

Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any age – including young women and teenagers.

If you are worried about your boyfriend or partner’s behaviour, learn more about the warning signs of domestic violence. Educating yourself about abuse could help you – or someone close to you – stay safe.

What is abuse?

Abuse in teenage relationships is the same as abuse in older relationships – it is all about power and control.

If your partner is trying to control you by using fear, violence or intimidation, you are being abused.

If you have to change your behaviour in any way because you are scared of your partner’s reaction, you are being abused.

Domestic violence can take many different forms. Physical and sexual abuse is the easiest to recognise, since they may leave marks and bruises. Nevertheless, remember – you do not have to be hit to be a victim of abuse. Emotional, psychological and financial controls are also very serious forms of domestic violence.

Domestic violence often escalates over time – what starts as verbal and emotional abuse often turns into physical violence.

Am I being abused?

  • Is your boyfriend very jealous and possessive of you?
  • Does he get angry when you want to spend time with your friends or demand that you spend all your time with him?
  • Does he check your phone, email, Facebook and twitter accounts?
  • Does he try to get you to defriend people on Facebook, take down your photos, or stop you messaging your friends?
  • Is he always calling or texting to check where you are and who you are with?
  • Does he tell you what to wear or how to do your hair?
  • Does he laugh at you or put you down in front of other people?
  • Does he get aggressive? Does he hit, shove, slap or kick you?
  • Does he threaten to harm you – or himself?
  • Does he call you names?
  • Does he pressure you to have sex when you do not want to, telling you that “everyone is doing it” or that you would do it “if you really loved him”?

If you are frightened of your partner, or feel that you have to change your behaviour because you are scared of his reaction, you are being abused.

What can I do?

If you are being abused, it may help to remember the following:

  • if you are in immediate danger, call 112 – the police have a duty to investigate and help you stay safe
  • you are not alone – organisations like Casa Ioana help many young women and teenage girls who are experiencing abuse – they can help you too
  • the abuse is not your fault – your partner may blame you for his behaviour, perhaps saying that you “made him hit you”, but he alone is responsible for his actions
  • abuse is never all right – you deserve to be with someone who respects you and makes you feel safe
  • you do not have to deal with this on your own – try to talk to someone you trust – perhaps a friend, teacher or parent – alternatively, call the free Child Helpline on 116 111 or a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana (see our section on Useful links)

Help for abused children

All children have the right to be safe. You should not be scared of anyone at home or have to feel upset because your mother is getting hurt.

If you are worried or scared about what is going on at home, it can help to talk to someone. Maybe there is a teacher you like or another adult you can trust.

Try to remember these things:

  • what is happening is not your fault
  • you do not have to deal with it alone
  • it is not your responsibility to protect anyone else
  • there are people who can help you cope with what is happening
  • hitting or hurting someone is against the law – nobody has the right to hurt another person

Who can I talk to?

If you need help right away, you should call the police. Dial 112 and ask for the police. You should give your name, address and telephone number and tell the police what is happening. Do not close the phone – if you do, the police might call back and this could give your father, stepfather or your mother’s boyfriend the chance to tell the police that everything is okay and that the call was a mistake. It is better to leave the phone open so the police can hear what is going on.
The police will come to your house and talk to your mother, father or other adults. They will want to talk to you. The police should make sure that you are all right and that you have not been hurt. They may take away the person who was violent. Whatever happens, you should remember that the abuse is not your fault.
If you can talk safely to someone about what is happening, you can call the free Child Helpline on 116 111 or a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana (see our section on Useful links)
Talking to someone like a teacher, doctor or another adult you trust can help. They will want to make sure that you and your mother are safe so they might want to talk to your mother too. If they are worried that you might get hurt, they may have to tell someone else. They should always tell you what they are doing and who they are planning to talk to.

Help for an abused friend or loved one

It is not easy to know how to support a friend or loved one who is experiencing domestic violence. Nevertheless, you can make a difference.

It can be very upsetting to think that someone is hurting a person you care about so much. Your first instinct may be to protect your friend or loved one, but intervening can be dangerous for both you and her. Of course, this does not mean you should ignore it; there are things you can do to help. If you witness an assault, you can call the police on 112.

Find out about domestic violence organisations like Casa Ioana, as they should be able to provide information to help people support friends and loved ones through episodes of domestic violence.

It helps to remember that:

  • domestic violence is a crime
  • domestic violence is very common – one woman in four experiences domestic violence at some point in her life and an abused woman may live with domestic violence for years before she tells anyone or seeks help
  • domestic violence is very dangerous – every day on average, two people die because of domestic violence
  • all women have the right to live free from violence and fear
  • the woman is not to blame for the violence – only the abuser is responsible for his actions

What might an abused woman be feeling and experiencing?

  • she may be overwhelmed by fear – a fear of further violence or threats to her children’s safety
  • she often believes that she is to blame and that by changing her behaviour the abuse will stop – research shows that this is not the case
  • she may experience many conflicting emotions – she may love her partner, but hate the violence – she may live in hope that his good side will reappear
  • she may be dependent upon her partner, emotionally and financially
  • she may feel shame, guilt and embarrassment
  • she may feel resigned and hopeless and find it hard to make decisions about her future

What can you do to support her?

  • give her time to open up – you may have to try several times before she will confide in you
  • try to be direct – start by saying something like, ‘I am worried about you because…’ or, ‘I am concerned about your safety… ‘
  • do not judge her
  • believe her – too often people do not believe a woman when she first discloses abuse
  • reassure her that the abuse is not her fault and that you are there for her
  • do not tell her to leave or criticise her for staying – although you may want her to leave, she has to make that decision in her own time
  • focus on supporting her and building up her confidence – acknowledge her strengths and remind her that she is coping well with a challenging and stressful situation
  • abusers often isolate women from friends and family – help her to develop or keep up her outside contacts – this will help boost her self esteem
  • encourage her to contact a local domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana
  • be patient – it can take time for a woman to recognise that she is being abused and even longer to make decisions about what to do – recognising the problem is an important first step

Helping a woman and her children to stay safe

  • the safety of your friend or loved one and her children, is paramount – talk to her about how she can stay safe
  • agree a code word so that she can signal when she is in danger and needs you to get help
  • encourage her to think about her safety more closely and focus on her own needs
  • find out about local services for her – offer to keep spare sets of keys or important documents, such as passports, marriage and birth certificates, etc. so that she can access them quickly in an emergency
  • encourage her to think of ways in which she can increase the safety of her children

Emergency support

Always call 112 in an emergency.

Domestic violence is not a private matter to be dealt with behind closed doors. Domestic violence is a serious crime. We all have a part to play in ending it.

Help for men

Casa Ioana recognises that domestic violence can affect everyone and anyone and that no one should have to live in fear.

For men who are abused

We recognise that men can also be victims of domestic violence and Casa Ioana believes that everyone has the right to live in safety and free from fear, regardless of their gender.
If you are a man and you are being abused, call a domestic violence organisation like Casa Ioana – see our section on Useful links. Alternately, you may find it helpful to read areas of our website that talk about domestic violence in general.

For abusers

If you are abusive towards your partner and want to change your behaviour, you can find out more by calling Casa Ioana on +40 21 332 6390.

Men are abused too

Most domestic violence is directed at women but men are abused too making finding help as an abused man difficult. You may feel there is nowhere to turn or that no one will take you seriously. Perhaps you are ashamed about what is happening or feel like you have done something to deserve it. You may be worried that people will think you are less of a man for ‘allowing’ yourself to be abused.

No one deserves to be abused by his partner and you have the right to be respected and to able to live in safety. Remembering this will help:

  • you are not alone – many men experience abuse
  • the abuse is not your fault
  • there are professionals that can help you
  • you cannot change your partner’s behaviour
  • domestic violence is against the law

What are my rights?

You have the same rights as an abused woman. The police will take you seriously and arrest your abuser if there is evidence of assault and they can be prosecuted.

Accepting that you are being abused is an important step. The next step is to break your silence and isolation by contacting an appropriate organisation or speaking to someone that you trust.

Who can I talk to?

You are not alone. For support call

I am an abuser

It takes strength to admit that you are abusing your partner, however, if you really want to change, you can.

Violence is learned behaviour which means that you can unlearn it – but only if you can:

  • accept responsibility for the abuse – you cannot blame your actions on your partner, or on drink, drugs, stress or work
  • accept that the abuse comes from your desire to control your partner – understand the ways you control her and why you behave like this
  • realise that you have a choice – you choose to be violent or abusive and you can choose not to be
  • accept that your partner has a right to live her own life without being dominated and controlled
  • stop using anger to control your partner
  • seek help from professionals

Can anyone help me change?

Abuser programmes exist to help men change their behaviour and increase the safety of women and children. They should look at the causes of violence and abuse and help men understand why they are violent. Men are asked to take full responsibility for the abuse and recognise the impact of their violence on their partner and children.

You should be encouraged to learn different, non-abusive ways of behaving within a relationship.

Who should I contact?

The Useful links section enables you to access information on the services and types of support available in your area for women and children experiencing domestic violence. These services are provided by county and local authority departments, as well as NGOs.

Help for those facing family homelessness

According to recent research, the number of families with children who lose their homes is increasing. With the rise in poverty levels, many families barely make ends meet. If you face the possibility of losing your home, we can offer some advice on how to prevent it and how to survive if it happens to you.

Preventing your homelessness

Before being faced with giving up your home, there are things that you can do to help prevent it. Losing your home does not happen overnight – a fire or natural disaster might take a family’s home away in an instant – but apart from tragedies like that; the risk of losing their home is something that families do not contemplate. Although you may think that it could never happen to you, many families in a similar position to you have had to face up to the reality of losing their homes.

Many children have to live with the stress of not having enough to eat and knowing that their family may be displaced because a parent loses his or her job. Shrinking salaries and increasing competition for jobs are part of the reason why many single parent and even two-parent families face severe financial problems.

If you are a parent who is finding it difficult to make ends meet and you are losing your fight against poverty, there are steps that you can take to help improve your family’s chances. The choices are not easy, but your children’s’ well-being should take precedence.

The lack of affordable housing is a major problem, particularly when salaries are reduced. Consider renting one of your rooms, if you can do so, to help with household expenses. If you are a single parent, finding another single parent to share your accommodation might be a good choice.

Living with your family is another option that parents might want to consider. You can live less expensively and benefit with extra help with looking after your children. Of course, it will mean less privacy and maybe you and your parents may not have an ideal relationship, but living in a shelter with your children could be worse. You will have to decide on the circumstances.

Affordable housing is something that is more difficult to find nowadays and many local authorities do not have sufficient affordable housing or funds to help poorer families pay for private rentals. Working and receiving social benefits is very often not enough to get by. The present welfare system is inadequate and makes it all too easy for families to lose their homes.

However, it might help to anticipate what could happen if you get into troubles before you reach that stage. When you are living from hand-to-mouth, it is wise to face up to the worst-case scenario. Even with two salaries, losing your home is still a reality. If you live above your means and do not have enough savings, you threaten your family’s security.

In this economic uncertainty, planning for the worst is a sensible thing to do. Downsizing and learning how to live on less so that you can save – just in case – might be a prudent thing to do.

For a single parent recently separated, accepting that your financial status has changed will help you to provide better for your children. Learning how to live on less money takes sacrifice, but it can be done. Cutting back on what you can is something that will help; searching for alternative and more affordable housing is another.

If you find that circumstances are beyond your control and that you and your children do lose your home, it might help to call a friend and ask for help. Losing their home is extremely tough on children – a good friend will offer up their couch to help you and your children temporarily. If your children have another parent that you are separated from, or there are grandparents or other close family nearby, consider allowing your children to stay with them on a temporary basis – it could help to keep your children from having to experience life in a shelter or even life on the streets.

Children who lose their homes often suffer in school and have emotional problems related to the stress their family is living with. Speak to your children’s schools about your situation – they might be able to help with counselling to help your children cope with their situation.

The stress of losing your home can be unbearable but as a parent, you need to find the strength to help you and your children through this tough period. Although your focus will be on working to improve the family’s situation, do not ignore the fact that your children need your attention as well during this difficult time.

Remember that losing your home is for many, a temporary situation and one that can be reversed. It can take time however to get back on your feet again, but it can be done.

Do accept offers of help; you will be providing for your children again soon enough. Remember, it is a temporary situation and you need to stay focused on ways that will help you and your family to move on.

Keeping safe while living on the street

If you do lose your home, remember that sleeping on the streets can be cold and dangerous. It is important to keep safe, warm and well while you find a place to stay until you resolve the crisis.

Keep warm

It is important to stay dry and warm if you are on the streets. Try to find a local authority or NGO day centre, which are warm places you can go if you are living on the streets. Your local DGASPC can tell you if there is a day centre available.
Day centres may be able to help you with free items such as shoes, a change of clothes and blankets. Some day centres might provide washing and laundry facilities as well as showers.

Eat well

Ii is possible to get free or cheap food if you are living on the streets. Day centres should be able to offer free or cheap meals.
Some local authorities or NGOs operate food projects in larger cities that provide free hot or cold food and drinks. Your local DGASPC can tell you if there is a project in your area.

Find a safe place to sleep

It is important to find a safe place to sleep at night. You may be able to find an emergency night shelter in your area – ask your local DGASPC.
If you have to sleep rough, make sure you sleep where other people are sleeping. Keep to well-lit, sheltered areas and use cardboard or matting to keep off the ground. Try to keep yourself safe and warm.

Sort out your money

Although you can only claim benefits from your the DGASPC where your address is registered, you can claim minimum income guarantee even without a permanent address. Remember though, you will not be able to live properly if you depend only on benefits, you must be able to find work or apply for a retirement or disability pension where necessary.
Day centre and night shelter staff may be able to help you find paid work.

Look after your health

You are only entitled to visit a family doctor or to receive hospital treatment if you are covered by the state national health insurance scheme, otherwise you will have to pay for any treatment privately. You are entitled though, to free emergency treatment for a period not exceeding 72 hours.
Some day centres and other services that visit people living on the streets can sometimes provide a doctor or nurse to help you.

Keep in touch

If you do not have access to a mobile phone, you could use a phone in a day centre to stay in contact with friends and family.

Find a place to keep your belongings

Day centres and shelters may have some storage facilities to store your belongings for a limited period.