What is Abuse?

ABUSE – It can happen to anyone!

Abuse is an attempt to control the behavior of another person. It is a misuse of power which uses the bonds of intimacy, trust and dependency to make the victim vulnerable. Abuse can take many forms.

Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal, or a combination of any or all of these. Abuse can also be neglect, which is when parents/guardians or caregivers don’t take care of the basic needs of the children who depend on them.

(If you want to help someone you know how is in an abusive relationship, learn what you can do here)


Are you in an abusive relationship? Does your partner…

  • Keep track of all of your time?
  • Accuse you of being unfaithful?
  • Try to keep you from family and friends?
  • Prevent you from working or going to school?
  • Criticize, yell, belittle or humiliate you?
  • Anger easily when drinking? Use drugs?
  • Hit, slap or punch you, your children or your pets?
  • Try to strangle you?
  • Act jealous or possessive?
  • Blame others for self-created problems & mistakes?
  • Threaten you with a weapon or gun?
  • Force you to have sex against your will?
  • Accuse you of being equally abusive?

If you answered YES to one or more questions, talk with a Family Justice Center advocate today to learn what your options are.


Stalking is a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. Stalking is serious, can be violent, and can escalate over time.
Some things stalkers do:

  • Follow you and show up wherever you are.
  • Send unwanted gifts, letters, cards, or e-mails.
  • Damage your home, car, or other property.
  • Monitor your phone calls or computer use.
  • Use technology, like hidden cameras or global positioning systems (GPS), to track where you go.
  • Drive by or hang out at your home, school, or work.
  • Threaten to hurt you, your family, friends, or pets.
  • Find out about you by using public records or online search services, hiring investigators, going through your garbage, or contacting friends, family, neighbors, or co-workers.
  • Posting information or spreading rumors about you on the Internet, in a public place, or by word of mouth.
  • Other actions that control, track, or frighten you.


If it happens to you

Sexual Assault is about power, control, and humiliation – it has very little, oftentimes nothing, to do with sex.

It was not your fault.

No one asks to be sexually assaulted, and you don’t have to go through this alone! Ask to speak with a sexual assault counselor at the Center.


If you suspect a child has been abused…

  • Keep calm and let the child know you believe them
  • Be reassuring and supportive
  • Don’t overwhelm the child with questions
  • Do not confront the abuse
  • Take action. It could save a child’s life
  • Speak with an advocate at the Center for guidance


Elder abuse as an act or series of acts that cause harm or distress to an individual 60 years or older. It happens most often in relationships based on trust. Some signs of elder abuse include:

BruisesAdvertisement , broken bones, burns, abrasions, pressure marks

Dirty clothes, soiled diapers, bedsores, unusual weight loss, and lack of needed medical aids, such as hearing aid, cane, or glasses

Nervous or fearful behavior, especially around the caregiver, strained or tense relationship between caregiver and elder


Human trafficking is the illegal exploitation of a person

Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, and the community?

Has a child stopped attending school?

Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?

Is a juvenile engaged in commercial sex acts?

Is the person disoriented or confused, or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?

Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?

Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?

Does the person show signs of having been denied food, water, sleep, or medical care?

Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?

Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?

Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?

Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live?

Are there unreasonable security measures?

If you think that you or someone you know may be experiencing abuse, call and talk with a Family Justice Center advocate today to learn what your options are.