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Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention Department

What is domestic violence?

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, financial or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure or wound someone. Domestic violence can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender. It can happen to couples who are married, living together or who are dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.

Arab American Family Services is a leading organization for eliminating domestic violence among the Arab and Muslim communities throughout Illinois. AAFS is also committed to reducing abuse and increasing community awareness of domestic violence. AAFS, a bilingual/bicultural agency, empowers Arab and Muslim women by providing services which reflect their values and culture and being an advocate on the issues that make a difference in their lives. We believe in the strength of women and families we serve. We are dedicated to restoring and preserving the dignity and self-sufficiency of battered women and their families by providing a broad range of comprehensive services in the areas of safety, prevention, intervention, advocacy, education and support.

Our comprehensive programs and services include:

  • Safety Planning
  • Case Management
  • Direct crisis intervention services for the victim and children
  • Counseling for victims and their children
  • Court support and assistance
  • Orders of Protection
  • Information and referral services
  • Law enforcement intervention
  • Criminal and civil justice advocacy
  • In-house legal assistance
  • Translation and Interpretation
  • Toll-free 24-Hour Crisis Line (708) 945-7600

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.

Types of Abuse


Abuse intended to cause pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm is physical abuse. Behavior that implies an immediate threat of physical harm is also abuse. These forms of abuse are what people have in mind when thinking about domestic violence. However, they are not the only forms of abuse.

  • Does your partner hit, beat, and/or punch you?
  • Does your partner pinch, push, and/or shove you?
  • Does your partner pull your hair, bite, and/or bruise you?
  • Does your partner starve, force feed, and/or choke you?
  • Does your partner realistically threaten you with harm or raise a hand or fist as if to strike you?
  • Have you been threatened with a knife, gun, or any object?
  • Does your partner kick furniture or punch walls when in a rage?
  • Have has your partner hurt or injured you “accidentally”

Emotional & Psychological Abuse

Abuse that involves verbal and non-verbal put downs, criticisms,  and accusations that devastate the victim’s self-esteem, causing the victim to give up too much power and control to the abuser. Abusers constantly harass their partners, eventually leading the victim to believe the constant criticisms, put downs, and accusations.

  • Does your partner make you feel useless?
  • Does your partner make you feel unworthy of love?
  • Does your partner make you feel unworthy of respect and dignity?
  • Does your partner make you feel humiliated or disgusting?
  • Does your partner make you feel guilty?
  • Does your partner make you feel degraded and shamed?
  • Does your partner make you feel like you have no control over your life?

Verbal Abuse

A type of psychological abuse involving the frequent use of negative and hurtful language. It is the most common form of abuse and cannot be seen physically; however, it causes great mental and emotional damage.

  • Does your partner call you names that are painful (“slut,” “trash”)?
  • Does your partner constantly put you down by saying hurtful  slurs? (e.g., no one loves you, you’re stupid, you’re ugly, you’re fat, etc….)
  • Does your partner try to humiliate you in public and/or in private?
  • Does your partner insult you in public and/or in private?
  • Does your partner verbally threaten you with harm or abandonment?
  • Does your partner consistently place the blame for any kind of abuse on you or others (“you ask for it!” , “I warned you about that before I hit you.”)?

Financial Abuse

The abuser forcefully controls a victim’s financial means. This is usually done by cutting off access to money and financial information or constantly threatening to do so.

  • Does your partner withhold money from you?
  • Does your partner keep you from getting a job?
  • Does your partner take your money against your wishes?
  • Does your partner make you account for even small amounts of money?
  • Does your partner demand control over household finances?
  • Does your partner stop you from having access to the family income?

Sexual Abuse

When physical or psychological means are used to make the victim participate in undesired sexual behavior. A victim can decline the sexual act; however, the abuser views their victim as an object and thus will ignore their refusal.

  • Does your partner force you to have sexual intercourse when you don’t want to?
  • Does your partner force you into sex activities you do not desire or are uncomfortable with?
  • Does your partner touch you sexually without your  consent?
  • Does your partner force you to commit sexual acts for money?
  • Does your partner force you to take nude pictures of yourself or while you are in some sexual act?
  • Does your partner force you to watch pornography in movies, videos, or on the internet?

How do I know if my family member, friend or neighbor is being abused?

Victims have a hard time speaking out about their abusive relationship. They tend to feel alone and vulnerable. If you want to help your family member, friend, or co-worker, begin by saying something to them before it’s too late. Tell him/her what you think about the situation and show them your love and support. Let them know that help is available. You may be the one to help save a life!

Ask yourself if your family member, friend, or neighbor exhibits any of the following:

  • Seems anxious about or fearful of their partner in conversation with you or when the partner is present?
  • Seems to always feel the need to check in with their partner on where they are and what they are doing?
  • Receives excessive phone calls/text messages from the partner who seems to be constantly checking up on what they are doing?
  • Complains about their partner’s temper?
  • Rarely goes out in public or come to family functions?
  • Shows unexplained bruising or marks?

Safety Plan

What is Safety Planning?

A safety plan is a personalized, practical plan that includes ways to remain safe while in a relationship, planning to leave, or after you leave. Safety planning involves how to cope with emotions, tell friends and family about the abuse, take legal action and more.

At Arab American Family Services, we safety plan with victims, friends and family members, anyone who is concerned about their own safety or the safety of someone else.

A good safety plan will have all of the vital information you need and be tailored to your unique situation, and will help walk you through different scenarios.

Although some of the things that you outline in your safety plan may seem obvious, it’s important to remember that in moments of crisis your brain doesn’t function the same way as when you are calm.

When adrenaline is pumping through your veins it can be hard to think clearly or make logical decisions about your safety. Having a safety plan laid out in advance can help you to protect yourself in those stressful moments.

Domestic Abuse Safety Plan

  • If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere with weapons.
  • Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it at an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
  • Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
  • Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to.)
  • Use your own instincts and judgement. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
  • Always remember — You Don’t Deserve To Be Hit Or Threatened!

Safety When Preparing to Leave

  • Open a savings account on your own name, start to establish or increase your independence.
  • Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
  • Keep the shelter phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible.

Safety In Your Own Home

  • Change the locks on your doors ASAP. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you’re not with them.
  • Inform your children’s school, daycare, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Inform your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him near your home.

Safety With A Protective Order

  • Keep your protective order on you at all times. (When you change your purse, that should be the first thing that goes in it.)
  • Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order.
  • Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
  • Inform family, friends, neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.

Safety on The Job and in Public Places

  • Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security (provide a picture of your batterer if possible.)
  • Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus or train. Use a variety of routes home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (in your car, on the bus, etc.)

Your Safety & Emotional Health

  • If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternitive plan with someone you trust.
  • f you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
  • Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
  • Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.
  • Decide who you can talk to freely and openly to give you the support you need.
  • Plan to attend a women’s or victim’s support group to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.


What you need to take when you leave?

  • Identification
  • Driver’s license
  • Children’s birth certificates
  • Your birth certificate
  • Money
  • Lease, House Deed
  • Bank books
  • Checkbook(s)
  • Insurance papers
  • House and car keys
  • Medications
  • Small Saleable Items
  • Address Book
  • Pictures
  • Medical Records
  • Social Security Cards
  • Welfare Identification
  • School Records
  • Work Permits
  • Green Cards
  • Passport
  • Divorce Papers
  • Please remember, if you are in IMMEDIATE danger, call 911

Protective Orders

A Domestic Violence Protection Order is a civil order that can:

  • Order the abuser not to hurt, harm or harass you
  • Order the abuser not to contact you for any reason
  • Give you temporary possession of your residence
  • Order the abuser to stay away from your place of employment

You can get a Protection Order against:

  • Anyone closely related to you
  • Anyone with whom you live
  • Anyone with whom you are or were previously in a relationship with

Who Qualifies for Protective Orders?

  • Spouses, ex-spouses
  • Present spouses of ex-spouses
  • Parents, including grandparents, stepparents, adoptive parents, and foster parents
  • Children, including grandchildren, stepchildren, adopted children, and foster children
  • Persons otherwise related by blood or marriage
  • Persons living in the same household or who formerly lived in the same household
  • Persons who are the biological parents of the same children, regardless of their martial status
  • Dating partners
  • Previous dating partners

How to Get a Protection Order

Consider contacting the Oklahoma domestic violence/sexual assault program nearest the county where you are and ask for help. Go to the courthouse in the county where you live, where the abusive person lives or where the abuse happened and tell the Court Clerk that you wish to file a petition for a protection order. The Court Clerk may send you to a different person within the courthouse. If you don’t understand where they are sending you, ask them to walk you to that office.

Once you receive the forms, you will need:

    A petition for protective order form for the county you are filing in,

  • An emergency protective order for that county – the judge may fill this out or require you to do so – ask the Court Clerk or advocate and in some places
  • A domestic relations cover sheet
  • If you need help in filling them out, ask for an advocate from AAFS. You do not need witnesses, an attorney (although it may be beneficial to consult with an attorney before filing), or a police report to file.
  • AAFS offers free, in-house legal assistance
  • Filing the Protection Order is free.

You will be asked on the forms to describe the violence your abuser threatened to do or did and what action you want the court to take. Be sure to explain the most recent and most severe incidents of abuse, especially physical abuse. Once you have completed the forms, someone, either the clerk, advocate will ask you if the statements are true.

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