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Understanding the Impacts of Domestic Violence on Survivors


The Depp v. Heard trial has been trauma activating for many survivors. At this moment when domestic violence is receiving a lot of sensationalized attention throughout the various forms of media, we affirm the need for attention on concrete solutions—those that support survivors, educate on the realities of domestic violence, and prevent it from occurring in the first place. 

Domestic Violence is about Power and Control

Domestic Violence is a Public Health Crisis. We Can and Must Prevent It.

  • At the root of domestic violence is oppressive social norms—including rigid gender roles, white supremacy, colonization, economic injustice, among others. These inequities also reinforce domestic violence—for example, in LGBTQIA+ relationships, this can look like threatening to out one’s partner if they seek help and deportation for immigrant and refugee survivors.
  • Domestic violence isn’t a person-to-person issue, it’s a community issue— it silences the voices of survivors and ripples outward to create harmful and dangerous conditions for friends, families, and loved ones, and at jobs and schools. Most recent data indicate that in the U.S., 43.6 million women and 37.3 million men have experienced intimate partner violence and 54% of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming people have reported physical or coercive violence from a partner. This is a widespread crisis that requires all of our action to prevent it.
  • We have a shared responsibility to prevent domestic violence for future generations. Youth are a critical partner in the work to prevent domestic violence before adulthood. Abusive behavior is learned, and therefore, can be unlearned. Young people themselves are the most effective messengers to create inclusive norms and foster healthy relationships, so adults must act in allyship and support their leadership. This work, as well as holistic and early intervention efforts, are inadequately funded and require a state investment now.
  • Healthy relationships at all levels are vital: those we hold with ourselves, our loved ones, and communities. For healthy relationships to occur, people must be able to meet their basic needs for safety. We lower the risk of domestic violence when we build stronger community supports to our safety net—including access to paid family leave and a range of housing options.

Survivors Deserve to be Taken Seriously and Receive Support

  • Survivors, you have the right to self-determination, safety in your relationship, and community support: Reach out to California’s network domestic violence advocates, who are here to help no matter if the abuse is occurring now or if it was years ago. Access our map of domestic violence organizations throughout California to receive support with safety planning, legal advocacy, counseling, and more. The Family Violence Appellate Project helps domestic violence survivors and their children appeal dangerous trial court decisions on their behalf, for free, and serves California and Washington state.
  • Allyship to survivors is critical: Learn the signs of abusive behavior, and don’t be silent if you see it. If you know someone who is struggling in a physical and/or emotionally abusive relationship, show you care by listening, believing them, and connecting them to their local domestic violence organization
  • It’s harmful to have preconceived expectations of “survivorship”: Survivors deserve our support whether they stay in the relationship, act in self-defense, self-medicate, or are unable to recall details of the traumatic experiences. Survivors are the experts in their own lives. Faced with impossible choices, they make informed decisions to maintain their safety. Survivors deserve a response filled with humanity, dignity, and grace.