Domestic violence is serious. It is the major cause of injury to women in the U.S. -- causing more injury than auto accidents, mugging, and rapes combined. Nearly 1/3 of the women murdered in the U.S. are killed by husbands or boyfriends.

Domestic violence usually gets worse over time. It often begins with small things like put-downs, trying to control you, or acting jealous. Control tightens to take away your emotional and financial independence and the support of family and friends. Then it often moves into physical violence or the threat of it - to you, your family, your children, your pets.

Domestic violence is about the abuser's choosing to control you. It is not about having a "short fuse" or a "bad temper." It is not about alcohol or drug abuse. It is not caused by poverty or stress or unemployment or culture.

Domestic violence isn't just about men controlling women -- but it mostly is. Domestic abuse can happen among lesbians or gay men, among bisexual or transgender people. Domestic violence mostly happens to women -- 95% of reported victims are female.

* Evan Stark and Ann Flitcraft, Handbook of Family Violence
* Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report: Sex Difference in Violent Victimization

Do you feel safe right now?
At this moment, you might not think the abuse against you could ever become severely dangerous. It may not. But if it ever does, and you need to leave your abusive partner, please keep this in mind: When victims try to separate from their abusers, violence frequently gets worse and the risk of harm increases dangerously.

Because of this fact, if there comes a day when you decide to leave your abusive partner, or when you must leave in an emergency, it's a good idea to have a safety plan to protect yourself. This is called "safety planning."

A safety plan has to fit your needs and circumstances. Only you know the kind of relationship you have with your abusive, or potentially abusive, partner. You know what is safe and what is not safe. You know your resources better than anyone else does.

Think about what your resources are. Some suggestions will work for you, others may not. But thinking about what to do NOW, can make a critical difference if you need to act quickly in the future.