Article: Warning Signs and Red Flags

It’s not always easy to tell at the beginning of a relationship if it will become abusive.

In fact, many abusive partners may seem absolutely perfect in the early stages of a relationship. Possessive and controlling behaviors don’t always appear overnight, but rather emerge and intensify as the relationship grows.

Domestic violence doesn’t look the same in every relationship because every relationship is different. But one thing most abusive relationships have in common is that the abusive partner does many different kinds of things to have more power and control over their partners.

If you’re beginning to feel as if your partner or a loved one’s partner is becoming abusive, there are a few behaviors that you can look out for. Watch out for these red flags and if you’re experiencing one or more of them in your relationship, call the hotline to talk about what’s going on.

  • Telling you that you can never do anything right
  • Showing jealousy of your friends and time spent away
  • Keeping you or discouraging you from seeing friends or family members
  • Embarrassing or shaming you with put-downs
  • Controlling every penny spent in the household
  • Taking your money or refusing to give you money for expenses
  • Looking at you or acting in ways that scare you
  • Controlling who you see, where you go, or what you do
  • Preventing you from making your own decisions
  • Telling you that you are a bad parent or threatening to harm or take away your children
  • Preventing you from working or attending school
  • Destroying your property or threatening to hurt or kill your pets
  • Intimidating you with guns, knives or other weapons
  • Pressuring you to have sex when you don’t want to or do things sexually you’re not comfortable with
  • Pressuring you to use drugs or alcohol


ACOG Violence Against Women Department
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has developed tools to screen patients for intimate partner violence and sexual assault.

Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence
ATASK primarily serves Asian families and individuals in Massachusetts and New England who suffer from or are at risk of suffering from domestic violence.

Battered Women’s Justice Project
BWJP offers training, technical assistance and consultation on the most promising practices of the criminal and civil justice systems in addressing domestic violence.

Break the Cycle
BTC provides tools and resources to prevent and end dating abuse. They’ve partnered with the hotline to create loveisrespect.

Casa de Esperanza
Casa de Esperanza’s mission is to mobilize Latinas and Latino communities to end domestic violence.

Center on Domestic Violence: University of Colorado Denver
Within the university, their goal is to end domestic violence by fostering institutional and social change through leadership development, education, research and community collaboration.

Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence
CAEPV is dedicated to reducing the costs and consequences of partner violence at work, and eliminating it altogether. Their site has info, materials and advice on everything from policies and programs to legal issues and legislation.

FaithTrust Institute
FaithTrust is a national, multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence. They provide communities and advocates with the tools and knowledge they need to address the religious and cultural issues related to abuse.

Futures Without Violence
Futures Without Violence has led the way and set the pace for ground-breaking education programs, national policy development, professional training programs,and public actions designed to end violence against women, children and families around the world.

Health Cares About IPV
This site created by Futures Without Violence is an online toolkit with resources for resources for all health providers (not just physicians), as well as advocates.

HopeLine from Verizon Wireless
HopeLine is a collection of no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories turned them into support for domestic violence organizations nationwide.

Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community
IDVAAC is an organization focused on the unique circumstances of African Americans as they face issues related to domestic violence, including intimate partner violence, child abuse, elder maltreatment and community violence.

Institute for Law and Justice
ILJ is a private, nonprofit corporation dedicated to consulting, research, evaluation and training in criminal justice.

Jane Doe Inc.
Offering unparalleled leadership in Massachusetts, JDI is changing the way society views and reacts to sexual and domestic violence in ways that make communities safer.

Joyful Heart Foundation
JHF was founded by Law & Order SVU’s Mariska Hargitay with the intention of helping sexual assault survivors heal and reclaim a sense of joy in their lives.

Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum advances and protects the rights of women and girls though education, litigation and public policy. Started in 1970, they are the oldest organization of their kind.

Legal Resource Center on Violence Against Women
The LRC works specifically to obtain legal representation for domestic violence survivors in interstate custody cases and to provide technical assistance to domestic violence victim advocates and attorneys in such cases.

A project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, loveisrespect is the ultimate resource fostering healthy dating attitudes and relationships, and educating about teen dating violence.

Love is Not Abuse
A part of Break the Cycle, this is a public awareness campaign urging everyone to get involved in preventing dating abuse.

The Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse
MINCAVA is considered a leader in innovative violence-related education, research and Internet publishing and now coordinates four nationally and internationally renowned projects.

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women
NCDBW works with battered women who have been arrested and are facing trial, as well as those who are serving prison sentences.

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence
NCDSV helps people who work with victims and perpetrators: law enforcement, criminal justice professionals, health care professionals, advocates and service providers, counselors, and social workers. They also work with local, state and federal agencies, educators, media, policymakers and more.

The National Center for Victims of Crime
They advocate for victims’ rights, train professionals who work with victims, and serve as a trusted source of information on victims’ issues. They’re the most comprehensive national resource committed to advancing victims’ rights and helping victims of crime rebuild their lives.

National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild
NIPNLG provides legal and technical support to immigrant communities, legal practitioners and all advocates seeking to advance the rights of noncitizens.

National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women
The National Network to End Violence Against Immigrant Women seeks to challenge and eliminate all forms of oppression and discrimination against immigrant women facing violence by empowering them to build better lives of their choice.

National Runaway Safeline
The mission of NRS is to help keep America’s runaway, homeless and at-risk youth safe and off the streets.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has worked since 1978 to make every home a safe home. NCADV works to raise awareness about domestic violence; to educate and create programming and technical assistance; to assist the public in addressing the issue; and to support those impacted by domestic violence.

National Network to End Domestic Violence
NNEDV offers a range of programs and initiatives to address the complex causes and far-reaching consequences of domestic violence. Through cross-sector collaborations and corporate partnerships, they give support to victims of domestic violence who are escaping abusive relationships.

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
NRCDV engages, informs and supports systems, organizations, communities and individuals to build their capacity to effectively address domestic violence and intersecting issues.

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
NSVRC’s mission is to provide leadership in preventing and responding to sexual violence through collaboration, sharing and creating resources, and promoting research.

NO MORE is a new unifying symbol designed to galvanize greater awareness and action to end domestic violence and sexual assault.  NO MORE is supported by major organizations working to address these urgent issues.

National Violence Against Women Prevention Research Center
Sponsored by the CDC, NVAWPRC does research to help increase the understanding of violence against women.

Peace Over Violence
Peace Over Violence is a sexual and domestic violence, stalking, child abuse and youth violence prevention center headquartered in LA and dedicated to building healthy relationships, families and communities free from sexual, domestic and interpersonal violence.

Prevent Connect
Prevent Connect is a national project of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault with funding from the CDC. Their goal is to advance the primary prevention of sexual assault and relationship violence by building a community of practice among people who are engaged in such efforts.

Sojourner Center
As one of the nation’s largest domestic violence shelters since 1977, the Sojourner Center is a tireless advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors.

Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity Awards
The Women’s Opportunity Awards program assists women who provide the primary source of financial support for their families by giving them the resources they need to improve their education, skills and employment prospects. Each year, over $1.5 million in education grants are awarded to over 1,000 women, many of whom have overcome enormous obstacles, including domestic violence.

US Department of Justice: Office on Violence Against Women | Domestic Violence State Coalitions
A component of the U.S. Department of Justice, they provide federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The goal of VAWnet, the National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women, is to use electronic communication technology to enhance efforts to prevent violence against women and intervene more effectively when it occurs. 

A project of NNEDV, WomensLaw was launched to provide state-specific legal information and resources for survivors of domestic violence. They also provide referrals, detailed protective/restraining order information, and more, state by state.


Article: Domestic Violence and Abuse

Signs of Abuse and Abusive Relationships

Domestic Violence and Abuse: Types, Signs, Symptoms, Causes, and EffectsDomestic violence and abuse can happen to anyone, yet the problem is often overlooked, excused, or denied. This is especially true when the abuse is psychological, rather than physical. Noticing and acknowledging the signs of an abusive relationship is the first step to ending it. No one should live in fear of the person they love. If you recognize yourself or someone you know in the following warning signs and descriptions of abuse, reach out. There is help available.

Understanding domestic violence and abuse

Women don’t have to live in fear:

Male victims of abuse can call:

Domestic abuse, also known as spousal abuse, occurs when one person in an intimate relationship or marriage tries to dominate and control the other person. Domestic abuse that includes physical violence is called domestic violence.

Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn’t “play fair.” Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under his or her thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.

Domestic violence and abuse does not discriminate. It happens among heterosexual couples and in same-sex partnerships. It occurs within all age ranges, ethnic backgrounds, and economic levels. And while women are more commonly victimized, men are also abused—especially verbally and emotionally, although sometimes even physically as well. The bottom line is that abusive behavior is never acceptable, whether it’s coming from a man, a woman, a teenager, or an older adult. You deserve to feel valued, respected, and safe.

Recognizing abuse is the first step to getting help

Domestic abuse often escalates from threats and verbal abuse to violence. And while physical injury may be the most obvious danger, the emotional and psychological consequences of domestic abuse are also severe. Emotionally abusive relationships can destroy your self-worth, lead to anxiety and depression, and make you feel helpless and alone. No one should have to endure this kind of pain—and your first step to breaking free is recognizing that your situation is abusive. Once you acknowledge the reality of the abusive situation, then you can get the help you need.

Murder she wrote?

Mom’s only sister owned a farm about an hour’s drive from the city.  As children, we visited every weekend, holiday and during the summer break. There were six of us plus mom cramped into old jalopies barely able to make the drives.

Our Aunty was afraid of the city and never came in to see us. Aunty had five children; four from her first marriage.

Her first husband was an unstable alcoholic who threatened to kill her if she left with the kids, so she fled without them one night after a terrible fight, to our apartment in the city. It was the late 1960s, and our mother had just left our abusive father. Neither had any money and a dozen kids between them.

Aunty stayed with us until her husband fatally shot himself in their living room. It was a big scandal in their small town, when divorce was still taboo and domestic abuse went unreported. Because of the incident, my aunt was notorious in their small town for many years. She was often shunned and the topic of great gossip. 

Eventually she wed her second husband, a younger man. He was a mechanic and she always had the coolest cars.  She had cows, pigs, goats, rabbits, hunting dogs, and even pet raccoons. In the center of the yard there was a huge crabeapple tree that we climbed, and swung from a tire swing. She made lemon meringue and apple pies and grew a large garden which she canned every fall. 

The farm was nice back then, well kept. But it degraded slowly along with their marriage. No one knew how bad it had gotten until just before she died.

Our mother had moved away to Florida several years before and not visited. It was 2009 and I was in graduate school, married and raising two kids at the time and had not visited Aunty in a few years. All the other kids were trying to make a living or raise their own families.

My mother had told me Aunty was sick but no one ever said what it was; we later found out that she was often prevented from going to the doctor because her husband did not want to pay the bill. I also think he did not want the doctor to see her bruises and abrasions.

When mom finally came to visit, we took a ride out to see Aunty and we could see that something was wrong. We had all gathered at my cousin’s big farm in the back fields where they camped. The kids loved to ride the ATVs and see their cousins. We had tents and campers and campfires. There were cows and barns and lots of land, trails and fields.

As the night grew later, Aunty seemed more and more uncomfortable. She had sat all day under the shade and her husband was reluctant to leave. My mom tearfully intervened and her husband took her home, but he seemed annoyed. Aunty could hardly walk and he was unwilling to help her to the vehicle. This was a juxtaposition as he usually seemed cheerful and often played silly games with the children. Over the years there had been cracks in his temperament that seemed sudden, even shocking or unbelievable, but nonetheless turned out to be true.

Finally they left the campground, but the glimpse of Aunty’s face in the truck was pale and upsetting. I thought she was just really tired.

Mom was going back to Florida in a few days so we visited Aunty’s farm. Aunty’s shirt sleeve had pulled up while we were sitting at her kitchen table talking. I asked her why her arms were so bruised. She always wore long sleeves and pants even in the hottest weather. My Aunty is a very private person, stoic, so it wasn’t unusual for her to say nothing. Her grandchildren were also visiting and running around so we did not have a private place to talk. I asked what happened to her arms and she gave a lame excuse. I pushed further and asked if she had seen a doctor? Did she want me to take her to the doctor? Did she need help? She was evasive. I asked her if she wanted my mother to take her out of there and she was teary eyed. I asked if she wanted me to take her.

At that moment her husband came in from the garage and looked at us uneasily. The room went awkwardly quiet. He walked in the other room and stood near the doorway listening to us talk. Sometimes he would monitor her phone calls from the garage, but we weren’t able to put those pieces of the story together until afterward.

Later we learned that he often threatened to kill her. He told her she wouldn’t be missed, she was a burden and unwanted. He called her vile names and abused her in many ways. He told her he would get away with it because he knew all the town officials and the state troopers. He would just have her cremated right away, he said.

Unknowingly, our offer to take her away put her in greater danger. She mustered the strength to talk about the abuse to a family member. It may have escalated his violence. 

We think he wanted her farm for their only son to inherit. She wanted both her sons to split it. This was not a great estate; a small farmhouse from the 1800s, a barn and 30 acres. Uncle had already inherited another large piece of land on the big farm where we camped, from his father. I think he may have been in debt as well. He did not have a large income from his garage. He said he had earned it (her land) by having to live with her and raise her kids all those years. However, the farm was in her name only, as she had bought it with her first husband. This seemed to be a point of contention between them. I am unsure if the matter was resolved as I haven’t been to the farm since her death.

Aunty was adamant that she never say a bad word to her youngest son about his father. She felt she was protecting her son even though he was older now; he loved his father and looked up to him. She was afraid it would break up the family, and only cause more pain.

At her kitchen table we asked about her leaving. Did she want me to contact anyone? Did she need a lawyer? Did she need a place to stay?  She was uneasy and did not know what to do. 

My mother was going back to Florida in a few days, so I asked Aunty to think it over about coming home with me, or going somewhere else. She was concerned because she had no money but we assured her it would be okay. I was so uneasy about leaving her that day but I did not have the hindsight at the time.

It was afternoon when my mother called me from Florida. I was getting ready for my graduate class that evening. She said she wanted me to go out to the farm; she said she talked to my Aunty and it sounded like something was wrong. I told her to call her back and see what was going on, and then call me before I left for class. 

What I didn’t know was that my mom and Aunty were talking on the phone when her husband came in; Aunty’s tone of voice had changed and she hung up. This is what worried my mother.

Later that day in September 2009, mom received a call from my cousin saying that Aunty was dead.

My cousin said a state trooper was at the house asking questions but she didn’t know his name. She said he had left a card with my uncle.

Uncle had told the state trooper that he was in the garage all day and came in later and found her dead. This was a false statement because we know he came into the house when mom and Aunty were talking on the phone. He later changed his statement when we pointed this out to him. There are other discrepancies as well.

My Aunty had finally cracked the silent barrier that separated her from the world for so long.  She talked about the physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.  

She laid dead in the living room much of that day because he didn’t want to pay for the ambulance to take her to the morgue.  Citing the costs, he had refused to have an autopsy and wanted her to be cremated right away.

Even though there where doubts (but no proof) none of her kids called the coroner or troopers. We have no way of knowing what truly happened. 

Our inaction has haunted us ever since; Aunty was adamant that nothing be done to break up her family. It has taken time to gather these facts and opinions and so this may all be pure speculation. Today I am lending Aunty a voice and a chance to be heard; she visits my dreams, perhaps as a way of reaching out.

more tests more tests more tests


After months of nausea and gagging I finally seen a Gastroenterologist (GI). Tomorrow morning I will have a HIDA test to check gallbladder functioning.

What you can expect

               By Mayo Clinic Staff

You’ll be asked to change into a hospital gown before your HIDA scan begins. Your health care team will position you on a table, usually on your back. The radioactive tracer is then injected into a vein in your arm.

The tracer travels through your bloodstream to your liver, where it’s taken up by the bile-producing cells. The radioactive tracer travels with the bile from your liver into your gallbladder and through your bile ducts to your small intestine.

You may feel some pressure while the radioactive tracer is injected into your vein.

As you lie on the table, a special gamma camera is positioned over your abdomen taking pictures of the tracer as it moves through your body. The gamma camera takes pictures continually for about an hour.

You’ll need to keep still during the HIDA scan. This can become uncomfortable, but you may find that you can lessen the discomfort by taking deep breaths and thinking about other things. Tell your health care team if you’re uncomfortable.

The radiologist will watch on a computer the progress of the radioactive tracer through your body. The HIDA scan may be stopped when the radioactive tracer is seen in the gallbladder and enters your small intestine. This typically takes about an hour. In some cases extra imaging will be performed if original images aren’t satisfactory, if morphine is given to help visualize the gallbladder or if the medication CCK is given to look at the contraction of the gallbladder.


gall3The GI wanted to schedule surgery right away, because that is what they do. It is important to get confirmation tests to confirm that it is in fact your gallbladder causing havoc.  I have signs that point in the direction of gallbladder dysfunction, but medicine and the human body are complicated things.

It is important to understand that having your gallbladder removed may not relieve all of your symptoms. If you have gallstones, you may also have stones in your liver or bile ducts which must also be removed.  A relatively simple laparoscopic surgery can get complicated and turn into a major surgery where they open your abdomen. So it is important to get as much information about your condition ahead of surgery.

gallQuestions for your surgeon:

-what are the long term consequences of having the gallbladder removed?

-will having the gallbladder removed solve the problem?

-are there stones stuck in my liver or biliary ducts? will they be removed during surgery?

-are there dietary changes I can try instead of surgery?

-how much experience do you have? how many procedures have you performed? were there complications?

-what about injury to the bile duct as a complication?

-for bile leakage and drainage; will there be a tube after surgery?

-how many callbacks have you had?

-how long will it take to heal?

-how will my diet have to change after the gallbladder is removed?

-what are the risks of the surgery?

-which medications will I need to take after surgery?

gall4After surgery you will have diarrhea. You will no longer be able to eat cheese, ice cream, or fatty foods such as hamburgers.