141 W Elm
Wichita, KS 67203
Domestic violence is unfortunately very prevalent in nearly
every U.S. community. Domestic violence can encompass a large number of criminal
acts including battery, assault, criminal threats, rape, sexual battery, etc.
Domestic violence is a crime that occurs in every community in
the world. Men, women, children, and animals have all become victims of this
offense and many have not made it out of their households in time. It is not
discriminatory- victims come from all racial/ethnic backgrounds, socioeconomic
backgrounds, all career fields and from both homosexual and heterosexual
backgrounds. While the term “domestic violence” is commonly used to describe the
physical aspect of an abusive relationship, the term can also incorporate other
occurrences such as emotional abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse, etc.
Physical abuse is when unwanted physical contact is done to
the victim in order to inflict pain, injury, or psychological damage. This may
include hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, biting, pushing, etc. Batterers
may even go as far as to inflict injury to a pet or child in order to force the
victim to agree to his or her wishes. Physical abuse is a tool used by the
batterer to attempt to gain control over his or her victims. There are several
Kansas criminal statutes that may apply:
A detailed description of each statute is available at
Warning signs of physical violence
People who are being physically abused may:
Have frequent injuries, with the excuse of
Frequently miss work, school, or social
occasions, without explanation.
Dress in clothing designed to hide bruises or
scars (e.g. wearing long sleeves in the summer or sunglasses
“Sexual abuse is common in abusive relationships: The National
Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that
between one-third and one-half of all battered women are raped by their partners
at least once during their relationship. Any situation in which force is used to
obtain participation in unwanted, unsafe, or degrading sexual activity
constitutes sexual abuse. Forced sex, even by a spouse or intimate partner with
whom consensual sex has occurred, is an act of aggression and violence.
Furthermore, women whose partners abuse them physically and sexually are at a
higher risk of being seriously injured or killed.” 1
In the state of Kansas, it is illegal for one spouse to force another spouse
into any type of sexual activity. If this occurs, your local law enforcement
agency should be notified immediately. There are a number of statutes that could
possibly apply depending on the situation at hand including:
Victims will then be transported to an area hospital where
they will be examined and treated by specially trained hospital staff both for
health purposes and evidentiary purposes. Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Deputies can
assist the victim with finding somewhere safe to go, whether this is a friend or
family member’s house or a domestic violence shelter. Sexual assault victims in
Sedgwick County can obtain assistance and access resources at the Wichita Area
Sexual Assault Center in Wichita, KS. They also offer a 24 hour crisis hotline
at (316) 263-3002 or 1-877-WASAC-4U.
When most people think of domestic violence, they immediately
think of physical violence of some type but emotional/psychological abuse is
very real. It can cause permanent damage to a person’s self esteem and can leave
lasting psychological scars. Yelling, blaming, and name calling are all examples
of tactics used by the emotional abuser. Other coercions including intimidation,
controlling behavior, and isolation are also common. Most of these actions are
not, per se, illegal in the state of Kansas; however, sometimes the abuser will
resort to using threats as a way to control their victim. These threats can be
illegal if they meet the statutory requirements outlined in
K.S.A 21-5415. This however; does not negate the fact that this type of
abuse is real and that victims should attempt to get assistance as soon as
possible when this type of behavior begins to occur. Many times, physical abuse
is precluded by emotional/psychological abuse so victims should be very vigilant
if emotional abuse begins to take place. If someone is the victim of this type
of abuse and wants to seek help, he or she should contact the Catholic Charities
Harbor House in Wichita at (316) 263-6000 or (866) 899-5522.
The psychological warning signs of abuse
People who are being abused may:
Have very low self-esteem, even if they used
to be confident.
Show major personality changes (e.g. an
outgoing person becomes withdrawn).
Be depressed, anxious, or suicidal.
Warning signs of isolation
People who are being isolated by their abuser may:
Be restricted from seeing family and friends.
Rarely go out in public without their partner.
Have limited access to money, credit cards, or
the car. 2
The following table and description was adopted from
Helpguide.org. It explains the complex cycle that most
domestic violence relationships partake in. This pattern of events will continue
to occur over and over until the victim manages to seek help or until the abuser
murders the victim.
Domestic abuse falls into a common pattern, or cycle of
Abuse – Your abusive partner lashes out
with aggressive, belittling, or violent behavior. The abuse is a
power play designed to show you "who is boss."
Guilt – After abusing you, your partner
feels guilt, but not over what they have done. They are more
worried about the possibility of being caught and facing
consequences for his abusive behavior.
Excuses – Your abuser rationalizes what
they have done. The person may come up with a string of excuses
or blame you for the abusive behavior—anything to avoid taking
"Normal" behavior — the abuser does
everything they can to regain control and keep the victim in the
relationship. They may act as if nothing has happened, or they
may turn on the charm. This peaceful honeymoon phase may give
the victim hope that the abuser has really changed this time.
Fantasy and planning – Your abuser
begins to fantasize about abusing you again. They spend a lot of
time thinking about what you’ve done wrong and how they will
make you pay. Then he or she makes a plan for turning the
fantasy of abuse into reality.
Set-up – Your abuser sets you up and
puts their plan in motion, creating a situation where they can
justify abusing you. 2
If you are the friend of family member of someone who you feel
might be the victim of domestic violence, there are things that you can do. Pull
the person aside and speak to him or her privately. Tell them that you are
willing to help and ask if there’s anything that you can do. Express your
concerns to them and let them know that you are there to listen if needed. Do
not pressure them into making any immediate decisions and do not judge or blame
them in any way. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at
1-800-799-SAFE in order to obtain more information. There are also a number of
different local and state resources that you can access if needed. If there is
ever a situation where you believe that the abuser is actively physically or
sexually abusing the victim, call 911 immediately and law enforcement officers
will go over to their house and investigate the situation.
Those still living in domestic violence situations need to
have a current Safety Plan. A safety plan would include the following (and much
more): a list of places where the victim and/or children can stay in the event
that they must leave quickly; a code phrase that can be used when speaking to
family and friends that would let them know that immediate help is needed
without alerting the abuser; a list of important financial information; a
location where the victim has managed to put aside some money; a location where
the victim has hidden an extra vehicle key and/or a TracPhone or calling card.;
family and friend’s contact information; an envelope containing important
documents that the victim should take with them (SSN cards, ID, insurance cards,
children’s birth certificates, etc.). A very good example of a Safety Plan can
be found at aardvarc.org.
Those who are considering getting out of an abusive relationship should
strongly consider putting together a safety plan.
In Sedgwick County, a PFA (Protection from Abuse order) can be
obtained at the Sedgwick County Courthouse located in downtown Wichita. For more
information about this or about Protection from Stalking orders, please see the
Protection from Abuse/Protection from Stalking.
Living in fear is something that no one should ever have to
live through. There are a number of resources available both locally and
statewide that can assist victims and their families. All citizens should be
aware of the prevalence of domestic violence in their neighborhoods and
communities and be willing to contact law enforcement if they believe that
someone needs assistance.
Mission: To assure quality public services that provide for the present and future well-being of the citizens of Sedgwick County.
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