Domestic violence is a pattern of behavior used to maintain power and control over an intimate partner or family member. It is a serious national problem that knows no racial, religious, cultural or economic boundaries. Victims can be of any age, race, sexual orientation, gender or marital status and represent a variety of socio-economic backgrounds and education levels. Intimate partner violence is primarily a crime against women. Although domestic violence affects women, men, children and elders, women are most often the victims and each year 1.5 million women are assaulted by a partner or loved one.

Abusive behaviors include

  • Physical and sexual - pushing, hitting, slapping, strangling, kicking, biting; forcing someone to have sex or engage in sexual acts against their will
  • Emotional abuse - name-calling, put-downs, making someone feel guilty, crazy or badly about oneself and/or blaming them for the abuse
  • Coercion, threats, intimidation - making someone afraid using looks, actions, gestures (glares, smashing things, showing weapons, abusing pets), making and/or carryout threats to hurt, threatening to leave, to commit suicide, to report to DCF/welfare/immigration, or pressure to drop criminal charges
  • Isolation- controlling what someone does, where they go, or who they see or talk to, keeping them from family or friends, using jealousy to justify actions
  • Using children- criticizing parenting skills, threatening to take children away, using children to relay messages, using visitation to harass
  • Economic- preventing somone from working or having access to and knowledge about family income

Domestic violence not only affects those who are abused, but may also negatively impact family, friends, co-workers, other witnesses and the community at large.

Exposure to domestic violence also has profound effects on children. Research indicates that as many as 10 million children per year may witness or be victims of violence in their homes. There is a correlation between domestic violence and child abuse, which may result in a child being physically injured as a direct result of domestic violence. Even if there is no physical harm inflicted upon a child, being a witness to domestic violence in the home often causes adverse effects.

Many children who witness violence in the home suffer from anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. Young children may exhibit eating and sleeping difficulties and concentration problems. They may become withdrawn, or they may whine more and become more "clingy". Older children may exhibit these same symptoms, and also run the risk of becoming violent themselves, or suffering academic failure, substance abuse, and problems in their own relationships. In addition, these children are more likely to commit anti-social behavior at a young age and have a significantly higher risk of becoming involved in the juvenile justice system than those who have not been exposed to violence in the home

No one deserves to be abused or exploited. It is extremely important to seek help for yourself and your children if you are or have been a victim of abuse.

District Attorney Capeless is committed to holding the guilty accountable and preserving the rights and dignity of all victims. Victim Assistance Advocates are available at each District Court in Berkshire County to provide court advocacy, safety planning or referrals. Advocates work closely with other local domestic violence agencies to provide coordinated, sensitive services for victims. An Advocate can assist anyone in obtaining a restraining order (209A), explaining the criminal justice process and providing support and referrals.

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence or is in fear, contact a Victim Assistance Advocate in the Berkshire District Attorney's Office at 413-443-5951.

If the situation is an emergency, call 911 immediately.