The YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment provides FREE and CONFIDENTIAL services to victims of domestic and sexual violence, stalking, and human trafficking in Shawnee, Jackson, Wabaunsee, and Brown Counties in Kansas.
For 24-hour help, call toll-free: 1-888-822-2983
If you are in immediate danger, please call 911.
Defining the Issues
Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, “describes physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse. This type of violence can occur among heterosexual or same-sex couples and does not require sexual intimacy.” (CDC) Domestic violence is a way for one partner to exert power and control over another. Perpetrators of domestic violence use physical and sexual violence, threats, stalking, and emotional abuse. These abuse patterns are strategic, and can escalate over time.
Domestic violence affects most people. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and nearly 1 in 10 men report experiencing some form of abuse from an intimate partner. Our advocates at the Center for Safety and Empowerment are here to support anyone experiencing domestic violence.
Sexual violence and sexual assault can also happen outside of an intimate partner relationship, such as sexual abuse or rape perpetrated by an authority figure or a stranger. All adults involved in any sexual activity, including virtual activity, must give full consent; sexual activity without consent, or involving a minor, is a crime.
It is important to understand that sexual violence is common, affecting 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men (CDC). If you think you have been a victim of sexual violence or sexual assault, you are not alone. The Center for Safety and Empowerment can help victims of sexual violence with support, planning, and assistance in legal matters.
According to the Department of Justice, human trafficking is any situation of labor or sexual exploitation that a person cannot refuse or leave because of force, fraud or coercion. The United States law defines human trafficking as the act of recruiting, haboring, transporting, providing, obtaining, patronizing or soliciting a person for labor services, or to engage in commercial sex acts that is induced by force, fraud or coercion. However, if the person engaging in commercial sexual activity is a minor under the age of 18, then this is considered illegal sex trafficking even if “force, fraud, or coercion” is not used.
The risk factors for becoming a victim of trafficking, sexual violence, and intimate partner violence are similar. But, these crimes can happen to anyone regardless of gender identity, sexual orientation, age, race, or income. It can happen to you or someone you know. See below for practical tips to plan for your own safety if you are experiencing sexual violence, and how to help someone you love who may need help.
Having a plan can help you stay safe while in an abusive relationship, and if you are planning to leave or have left an abusive partner. Our advocates at the Center for Safety and Empowerment can help you identify resources and build a personalized safety plan.
- Know the layout of your residence and how to escape quickly if necessary.
- Keep a phone available at all times, with easy access to a helpline and/or a trusted local friend or family member who can help. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Identify a place to go if you need to leave your residence quickly.
- Keep your mode of transportation ready, such as filling up your vehicle’s fuel tank.
- Prepare an emergency bag, including important documents.
- Consider the needs of children, other dependents, and pets who may need to leave with you.
- If you have left and are in a new residence, take steps to ensure that the abusive individual does not know your address, or have access to your residence.
- Here is a resource from bankrate.com with more tips on securing safe housing and reliable transportation when leaving an abuser.
Safety planning can be overwhelming, and our advocates are here to help empower you to take the next step that is right for you and your loved ones. Call our 24-hour toll-free helpline 1-888-822-2983 to speak to someone.
More Safety Planning tips can be found at Safehome and the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
If you suspect that a loved one may be experiencing domestic violence or sexual abuse, or if a loved one has disclosed such to you, one of the most important things you can do is be present.
Because abuse tactics often involve control and isolation, it is critical that victims and survivors know that they have someone who believes them and supports them.
- Respect their journey
You might feel more prepared as a supportive loved one if you learn more about the issues of domestic and sexual violence, and if you learn what types of resources and services are available locally. Advocates at the Center for Safety and Empowerment are available 24/7 at 1-888-822-2983 to empower you as a supporter.
Examples of support to offer your loved one can include:
- Help with safety planning
- Offering assistance with transportation or childcare
- Letting them know you will help if they decide to leave
- Contacting law enforcement immediately (911) if you are aware that physical violence is occurring.
Simply being available, loving, and nonjudgmental can make a difference.