By Lisa Lynn Chapman, JD, Director of Community Relations, Safe Nest
Violet called the Safe Nest hotline several times. She wanted help to leave her boyfriend who was extremely physically, verbally and emotionally violent to her and her two children. Over the years, Violet was hit, strangled and demeaned in front of her children. She was regularly threatened with weapons. At night, Violet was often violently raped.

Violet was terrified to leave because her boyfriend’s friends were always watching her and the apartment. Many times she was followed by her boyfriend or his friends whenever she left home. If she left, he would know and call her asking her where she was going or show up to see if she was home.

Over several phone calls, Violet developed a specific plan to leave as well as a safety plan for while she was still in the apartment. Finally, after planning for months, Violet fled the apartment and entered the Safe Nest shelter.

Sadly Violet’s story isn’t uncommon. According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime. For such a common social problem, domestic violence is one of the most misunderstood.

Domestic violence is more than just the physical violence between an intimate couple. Law enforcement and the courts can intervene with the physical violence. However, the complete dynamics of domestic violence are often overlooked or misunderstood. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive and coercive behaviors designed to control another person.

According to the CDC, there are four main types of abuse.

Physical Violence
This tactic is the most misunderstood. Often physical violence is attributed to anger management issues, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness or money problems. In reality, physical violence is used to ensure one partner obeys the abusive partner. Physical violence includes scratching, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, biting, choking, hitting, use of weapons and restraints.

Sexual Violence
There are three categories of sexual violence: 1) abusive sexual contact; 2) threatening to or forcing someone to engage in sexual activities against her or his will; 3) attempted or completed sexual act with someone who is unable to consent due to intoxication, incapacity, or coercion.


The abusive partner uses words, weapons or actions to intimidate and create fear of injury or death to the victim or the victim’s family and friends.

Psychological/Emotional Violence
This form of violence is the most prevalent and includes humiliation, controlling, isolation, diminishing self-worth, and denying access to funds and basic resources. Stalking is included in this category.

Not all domestic violence relationships encompass all these types of violence, but Violet’s story is fairly common. It is important for everyone to understand these dynamics and the truth about domestic violence.

Working with her Safe Nest Advocate, Violet enrolled her children in school, and after no contact with family for several years, she was finally able to talk to her parents. Violet worked with her Advocate on a new safety plan. She reunited with her family and is starting over.

Safe Nest’s Domestic Violence Hotline is available 24 hours a day at 702-646-4981.

Safe Nest is Nevada’s largest and most comprehensive agency dealing solely with domestic violence issues. Serving over 50,000 victims, perpetrators and children annually; Safe Nest focuses on four core services help end domestic violence in our community.

The shelter component provides emergency 24-hour intake, 24-hour hotline services.

The counseling component includes therapy programs conducted in Las Vegas, Boulder City and Mesquite. Counseling is available for victims, perpetrators, children and teens, with sessions in both English and Spanish.

The advocacy component provides counselors both on-site and in the field to assist clients traversing the legal system.


The prevention component provides classes, programs and resources.


  1. Violence against women is not just a domestic problem, but has become a global epidemic. Every community and every country is deeply affected by violence against women and an astounding 1 out of 3 women worldwide will experience violence during her lifetime. This global violence impedes women’s economic progress and hinders equality reform. We are not immune here in Las Vegas as the ferocity of domestic violence is reported on a regular basis.
    The International Violence Against Women Act (I-VAWA) would permanently incorporate gender-based violence prevention and response into all U.S. government programs abroad. It would make existing initiatives to combat gender violence more efficient and effective and prioritize ending violence against women.
    We would like to thank Rep. Joe Heck for his commendable leadership in sponsoring f I-VAWA in the House of Representatives. Violence against women and girls is a global scourge that demands a strong response and we are so grateful to Rep Heck for supporting human rights. Violence against women is not “ cultural it is criminal.”
    We urge all of Representative Heck’s constituents to thank him for his leadership. Congressman, please encourage your colleagues to follow your example and join you in supporting I-VAWA

    Camille Garrett
    Legislative Coordinator Amnesty International