Frequently Asked Questions

Domestic Violence, also frequently referred to as Intimate Partner Violence, is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to gain/maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Domestic Violence includes physical, sexual, or psychological abuse by a current/former partner or spouse.  This type of abuse occurs in heterosexual and same-sex couples and it does not require sexual intimacy.

Domestic Violence is...


and it includes hitting, pushing, slapping, punching, choking, shoving, using a weapon, and in the most extreme cases homicide


and it includes threats, insults, humiliation, isolation, and controlling behaviors


and it includes unwanted touching, unwelcomed advances, verbal harassment, the use of force, and rape


and it includes controlling finances, prohibiting someone from working/going to school, taking/stealing money, or ruining a partner’s credit


and it includes using someone’s religion to keep them in an abusive relationship, or preventing someone from practicing their spiritual beliefs
Intimate partners may include current or former:
  • Spouses*

  • Boyfriends*

  • Girlfriends*

  • Dating Partners*

This includes individuals in both heterosexual and same-sex relationships as well as those in teen-dating relationships.

Anyone can become a victim of domestic violence. Domestic violence can happen to anyone regardless of their gender, race, religion, age, socioeconomic status, etc.

Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.*  Statistics indicate that on average 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. **

*According to Love is Respect
**According to the National Coalition to Against Domestic Violence.

Anyone can become a perpetrator of violence.  Domestic violence is about power and control and there are many ways to establish power and maintain control within a romantic relationships.  Often violence, both physical and nonphysical forms, are used as tools to exert power and control.  Violence is a learned and taught behavior.  Often, children exposed to domestic violence in their home do not have the opportunity to learn positive relationship behaviors and learn that harmful or abusive behaviors lead to advantageous outcomes.  Violence can be unlearned through intervention in the form of counseling, education, and support.

The image above illustrates both the overt and subtle mechanisms an abusive partner utilizes to maintain control and exert power over their partner.  On the outside of the wheel the overt forms of abuse, physical and sexual, form a circle around the subtle forms of manipulative and coercive behaviors that are used on a daily or continuous basis.  The more intense forms of abuse, physical and sexual, reinforce the subtler forms of abuse.  At the center lies power and control, as both the subtle and overt forms of abuse are used against and inflicted upon the victim in order to establish power and maintain control.
Violence is a learned and taught behavior.  Children who witness domestic violence in the home are more at risk of experiencing domestic violence as teens and adults.  Family is a central socializing institution and the primary source of childhood learning.  Unhealthy relationship behaviors (e.g. violence, anger, and force) are likely to be repeated by children if this is what is modeled at home, especially if this aggressive behavior is shown to be an effective method for conflict resolution with romantic partners.  Children growing up in abusive homes do not have the chance to develop positive relationship behaviors, such as active listening, compromise, and healthy conflict resolution as these are likely not practiced within such homes.

  • Remember that when a victim first comes to you for help, you need to be careful not to re-victimize them, they have been through a lot and are still in a vulnerable/fragile state (crisis).
  • All cases are different. Allow the victim/survivor the time and space to share their individual experience. Each individual is unique, as is their experience.
  • Offer useful resources and options.
  • Consider calling WomenShelter of Long Beach or your local domestic violence service provider. National DV Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
  • Help them make a safety plan (see safety planning below).
  • Remember that people will make changes when they are ready. Sometimes your encounter with them will help plant a seed of hope that they will remember down the line.
  • Your job is to do your best job - provide all options.
  • Do not tell them what to do, or how they should do it.
  • They are the expert not you.


  • If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship it is a good idea to have a safety plan in place. This will help you in case of emergencies and other unplanned events.  Make a list/copies of things that you might want to take with you.  You can then refer to this list when you feel that it is time/safe to leave.
  • Things to consider if you are preparing to leave:
    • Identify a safe place to go if you have to leave without notice.
    • Prepare a bag.
    • Set aside some money, make copies of important documents such as ID’s, birth certificates, marriage license, write down important phone numbers, etc. and leave them in a secure place or with a secure person.
    • If you have children consider establishing a safety word to use to signal danger.
    • Always be aware that your abuser can find out your plans by monitoring your phone, computer, email, and other personal communication tools/devices.
    • Meet with someone at your local domestic violence agency (all services are confidential and free).
  • Safety at home and at work:
    • Inform your neighbors and landlord that your abusive partner no longer lives with you and that they should notify the police if they see this person near your home.
    • Notify your office security by providing them with a picture of your abusive partner and request that they do not allow this person into your office and to notify you immediately.
    • Find a safe person to walk you to your car if it is late or dark.
  • There are many other precautions and safety concerns to consider please visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline to find out other ways to safety plan.

If you are currently in a domestic violence relationship and are seeking shelter or you would like support healing from a previous domestic violence relationship, but are not seeking shelter WomenShelter is here to help you.  24-hours a day our specially trained counselor advocates are ready to assist you via our crisis-hotline (562-437-HOME), or you can stop by our walk-in Domestic Violence Resource Center anytime Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm to speak with one of our counselor advocates in person.  We can help you locate emergency shelter or offer you support though our nonresidential program services.

All of our services are free, confidential, trauma-informed, and offered in both English and Spanish.

All of our programs offer inclusive services to women, men, children, and members of the LGBTQ community.


Our doors are open to all victims/survivors seeking safety, support, and shelter.  Once in shelter, WSLB staff will help you (and your family) locate housing and connect you to appropriate services tailored to meet your (and your family’s) needs.


If you decide to enroll in nonresidential services you will be asked to complete an initial intake followed by a short orientation.  After, you will be paired with one of our advocates and receive comprehensive case management, including support groups, and education.  Our case management plan includes legal and healthy advocacy as well as connections to helpful resources.  We are here to help you and support you.

WSLB’s Youth Services Program is open to all children and youth between the ages of 7 and 24.  Here, children and youth who have been exposed to domestic violence can receive caring counseling, one-on-one sessions, art therapy, and many other forms of support to help them heal and learn healthy coping mechanisms.

If you are in danger and need shelter please call our 24-hour crisis hotline: 562-437-HOME (4663) or stop by our Domestic Violence Resource Center Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm.

If you are interested in learning more about our Adult Services and/or our Youth Services Program please call 562-437-7233 anytime Monday through Friday 8:30am to 5pm or call our hotline at 562-437-HOME (4663).