Because the Internet is not 100% secure, your abuser/batterer may be able to monitor your online activities, which could put you at risk. Please use a safe computer (i.e. at your local library, school, or a friend’s home).


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Saturday, August 14, 2021

What is intimate partner violence/domestic violence?

From the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence. There is NO “typical victim.” Victims of domestic violence comes from all walks of life, varying age groups, all backgrounds, all communities, all education levels, all economic levels, all cultures, all ethnicities, all religions, all abilities, and all lifestyles.

Victims of domestic violence do not bring violence upon themselves, they do not always lack self-confidence, nor are they just as abusive as the abuser. Violence in relationships occurs when one person feels entitled to power and control over their partner and chooses to use abuse to gain and maintain that control. In relationships where domestic violence exists, violence is not equal. Even if the victim fights back or instigates violence in an effort to diffuse a situation. There is always one person who is the primary, constant source of power, control, and abuse in the relationship.

Every relationship differs, but what is most common within all abusive relationships is the varying tactics used by abusers to gain and maintain power and control over the victim. Nearly three in ten women and one in ten men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner (or former partner) and reported at least one impact related to experiencing these or other forms of violence behavior in the relationship (e.g. feeling fearful, concern for safety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), need for health care, injury, crisis support, need for housing services, need for victim advocacy series, need for legal services, missed work or school).

Physical and sexual assaults, or threats to commit them, are the most apparent forms of domestic violence and are usually the actions that make others aware of the problem. However, regular use of other abusive behaviors by the abuser, when reinforced by one or more acts of physical violence, make up a larger scope of abuse. Although physical assaults may occur only occasionally, they instill fear of future violent attacks and allow the abuser to control the victim’s life and circumstances.

Illustrations of the power and control wheel and the post-separation power and control wheel are particularly helpful tools in understanding the overall pattern of abusive and violence behaviors used by abusers to establish and maintain control over their partners both within and following a relationship. Very often, one or more violence incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse. They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.

As the wheels illustrate, abuse is cyclical. There are periods of time where things may be calmer, but those times are followed by a buildup of tension and abuse, which usually results in the abuser peaking with intensified abuse. The cycle then often starts to repeat, commonly becoming more and more intense as time goes on. Each relationship is different and not every relationship follows the exact pattern. Some abusers may cycle rapidly, others over longer stretches of time. Regardless, abusers purposefully use numerous tactics of abuse to instill fear in the victim and maintain control over them.

Domestic violence affects all aspects of a victim’s life. When abuse victims are able to safely escape and remain free from their abuser, they often survive with long-lasting and sometimes permanent effects to their mental and physical health; relationships with friends, family, and children; their career; and their economic well-being.

Victims of domestic violence experience an array of emotions and feelings from the abuse inflicted upon them by their abuser, both within and following the relationship. They may also resort to extremes in an effort to cope with the abuse. Victims of domestic violence may:

  • Want the abuse to end, but not the relationship
  • Feel isolated
  • Feel depressed
  • Feel helpless
  • Be unaware of what services are available to help them
  • Be embarrassed of their situation
  • Fear judgement or stigmatization if their reveal the abuse
  • Deny or minimize the abuse or make excuses for the abuser
  • Still love their abuser
  • Withdraw emotionally
  • Distance themselves from family or friends
  • Be impulsive or aggressive
  • Feel financially dependent on their abuser
  • Feel guilt related to the relationship
  • Feel shame
  • Have anxiety
  • Have suicidal thoughts
  • Abuse alcohol or drugs
  • Be hopeful that their abuser will change and/or stop the abuse
  • Have religious, cultural, or other beliefs that reinforce staying in the relationship
  • Have no support from friends of family
  • Fear cultural, community, or societal backlash that may hinder escape or support
  • Feel like they have nowhere to go or no ability to get away
  • Fear they will not be able to support themselves after they escape the abuser
  • Have children in common with their abuser and fear for their safety if the victim leaves
  • Have pets or other animals they don’t want to leave
  • Be distrustful of local law enforcement, courts, or other systems if the abuse is revealed
  • Have had unsupportive experiences with friends, family, employers, law enforcement, courts, child protective services, etc. and believe they won’t get help if they leave or fear retribution if they do (e.g. they fear losing custody of their children to the abuser)

These are among the many reasons victims of domestic violence either choose to stay in abusive relationships or feel they are unable to leave.

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now.

Follow this link for: 6 Tactics Used to Control Women
About Northwoods Battered Women’s Shelter
Northwoods Battered Women’s Shelter, Inc. (NBWS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit located in Bemidji, MN which primarily serves Beltrami and Cass counties. NBWS is a domestic violence shelter and advocacy program with a vision of a community free of domestic violence in which safety is a basic human right. NBWS provides emergency crisis shelter and advocacy to victim/survivors of intimate partner violence; this includes shelter services to women and their children and short-term safe housing to men and their children.

Crisis shelter is temporary, short term housing.  With the crisis shelter and safe housing services, NBWS provides emotional support, meals, items to meet basic needs (personal hygiene products and clothing), and transportation.

NBWS provides individual advocacy to anyone in need of services, for both those residing at NBWS and those who are not. Individual advocacy means working alongside individuals to obtain self-identified goals, emotional support, crisis intervention (typically through the NBWS 24 hour crisis phone line), and assistance in connecting with local resources. NBWS also provides legal advocacy which includes assistance with filling out Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders, court accompaniment (for civil or criminal cases), and tracking court matters on behalf of victim/survivors.

NBWS advocacy also consists of institutional advocacy and social change advocacy. Institutional advocacy is acting as a voice for victim/survivors, collectively, within systems or institutions that interact with victim/survivors, such as the Criminal Justice System or with local service providers. Social change advocacy is impacting social norms and attitudes towards domestic violence; this large picture advocacy is implemented by educating others on the dynamics of domestic violence and speaking to the collective needs of victim/survivors using the information learned from direct service work.

Our Mission:

 To provide crisis shelter, victim-center advocacy and supportive services for victims of intimate partner violence.

Our Vision:

A community free of domestic violence in which safety is a basic human right.

Agency Core Values:
  • Dignity – Respect for the worth of every person and their right to self-determination.
  • Safety – We oppose the use of all forms of violence as a means of control and we affirm the basic human right of every person to live in peace.
  • Inclusiveness – Diversity in those we serve, our staff, and leadership.
  • Knowledge – We believe education and understanding of oppression are vital to individual, organizational, and community change.
  • Stewardship – Committed to the wise use of all human, financial, and physical assets and resources.

Agency Definitions:
  • Individual Advocacy – Biased support of a victim in obtaining self-expressed goals.
  • Institutional Advocacy – Challenging systems and institutions so they respond more effectively to the needs of victims of intimate partner violence.
  • Social Change – To act collectively within and across communities to end oppression in all forms.
  • Intimate Partner Violence – A range of coercive tactics including the current threat or use of physical and/or sexual violence to establish control over a current or former partner or spouse.



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