Frequently Asked Questions...

  • Am I Being Abused?

    Domestic violence affects thousands of women, children, and men in East Tennessee each year. There are four main types of abuse in domestic violence situations: physical, emotional, economic, and sexual abuse. Unfortunately, many people don’t realize this and as a result, do not seek help. Domestic violence is often more than an isolated incident. It is a recurring cycle of violence that often increases in severity over time. Domestic violence does not “simply just go away.” To help better understand domestic violence, here are some examples of abuse:

    Emotional Abuse:

    • • Slapping, hitting, choking, kicking, shoving, shaking
    • • Throwing objects
    • • Threats of violence
    • • Physical restraint
    • • Spitting
    • • Name calling, insults, verbal attacks, humiliation
    • • Destroying keepsakes
    • • Harming pets
    • • Making the partner feel guilty for the abuse
    • • Extreme jealousy
    • • Playing mind games

    Sexual Abuse:

    • • Forcing sexual acts
    • • Forcing overly aggressive or violent sexual acts
    • • Coerced sex through manipulation or threat
    • • Harassing e-mails or other communication containing sexual content
    • • Forcing a partner to watch pornography or other sexual acts
    • • Denying contraception or protection

    Economic Abuse:

    • • Not allowing a partner to work
    • • Financial isolation by limiting access to money
    • • Controlling financial decisions without partner’s consent
    • • Using money for the abuser’s needs, neglecting victim’s needs

    If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, but are planning to leave an abusive home or are not sure what you should do, call the SafeSpace Hotline at 1-800-244-5968.

  • How Do I Stay Safe?

    Your abuser may be monitoring your Web activities. If your abuser has access to this computer, you may want to consider moving to a secure computer. Remember, you and your family’s safety is the most important thing. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, get help now. Call 911. If you are not in immediate danger, but are planning to leave an abusive home or are not sure what you should do, call the SafeSpace Hotline at:


    At SafeSpace, we don't tell you whether or not you should leave your home. Only you can make the decision that best fits your circumstances. But if you have made the decision to leave, it is important that you understand how to keep you and your family safe. Please click below to learn more about safety planning and injunctions for protection.

    Click for Adult Safety Plan

    Click for Youth Safety Plan

  • How Do I Help Someone Who is a Victim?

    For people who witness abuse, it can be extremely frustrating. These are some of the common questions and concerns people express when they know or suspect someone is a victim of domestic violence: What do I do? Whom should I call? What if I am wrong? Is it none of my business? Is it a personal family matter? All of these are valid questions; however, we have a duty as a responsible member of society to offer information and resources to those we care about who may be living in fear. To test this, ask yourself, “What if the victim was my daughter, sister, mother, grandmother, or friend? Would I want them to be left in a dangerous situation where they could be hurt or killed?” The following page lists some ideas for you to consider when you know or suspect someone is a victim of domestic violence. Always remember that you must consider the safety of the victim as well as your and your family’s safety when offering assistance. When in doubt, call the police; it is not recommended to engage in a physical confrontation with an abuser. The decision to shelter a victim if their life is being threatened should be used with great caution and may not be the safest option for you or the victim of domestic violence.

    What you can do to help: Call 911; call the SafeSpace hotline at 1-800-244-5968 (you do not need to be the actual victim to ask for assistance); recommend that the victim call SafeSpace; let the victim know you are concerned for her/his safety and help her/him secure safe shelter.

    Don’t ask questions that blame the victim such as: “Why haven’t you left?” “How come you let that happen?” “What did you say to provoke him/her?” Remember, victims of domestic violence often are afraid to leave their abuser or don’t have the resources to leave. Be supportive and offer resources for safety. Follow through on your promises of support. Remain non-judgmental. You can help end the cycle of violence for someone you care about and love. Let SafeSpace be a resource for you to better understand how you can help. Call the SafeSpace Hotline at 1-800-244-5968.

  • What Are My Legal Options?

    You've been battered or threatened with abuse. What can you do? First, call the police. Second, if necessary, get medical attention.

    You can also protect yourself from future violent acts by obtaining an Order of Protection, which if granted, restricts the abuser from:

    • • Committing any act of violence against you, your children, or others living with you
    • • Living in your home
    • • Contacting you or visiting your home, workplace, or other specified place
    • • Taking your children (You can ask for temporary custody of the children you and the abuser have together)
    • • Refusing to go to counseling

    You can include a request for referral to the Batterer’s Intervention Program or mandatory counseling in your injunction. An Order of Protection can be granted even if you have never called the police or pressed charges against your abuser. You only have to prove that you have reason to fear your partner and that fear is based on some serious threat or past violence. Keep your Order with you at all times! If your abuser violates the Order, he/she can be arrested.

    Additionally, this is an especially dangerous time because you have taken an action that lessens the abuser’s sense of control. On the next page are some frequently asked questions about Orders of Protection.

    What is an Order of Protection?
    An Order of Protection is a civil legal document given by the court which help protect you from physical violence, threats, destruction of property, being held hostage, being put in fear of bodily harm, or stalking. It can last for one year.

    What can an Order of Protection do?
    It orders your batterer not to bother you, not to make contact with you either directly or indirectly; it can make your batterer move or pay for another place for you and your children to live; give you temporary custody of your children; give you support money for yourself and/or the minor children you have together, and order your batterer into counseling.

    What is an Ex Parte Order?
    An Ex Parte Order is a temporary order that is given to you when you file for your Order of Protection. This order is good for approximately two weeks and is intended to give you immediate protection. This order is intended to protect you during the time period when your batterer is first served with the Ex Parte Order and his notice for appearing in court for the final Order of Protection. You should keep a certified copy of this order with you at all times.

    It is very important that you provide the best information possible as to where you batterer is so he/she can be served quickly. An Order of Protection cannot be made permanent for one year without the Ex Parte Order being served on the batterer. During this time, call the police immediately if your batterer attempts to contact you, make a police report, and contact SafeSpace staff about what to do.

    Does my batterer have to be served in person?
    Your batterer must be served in person and has the right to be present at the hearing to agree or disagree with the allegations stated in the Petition for your Order of Protection. It is important to have a good home or work address on your batterer so that he/she can be served in person.

    What if my batter is not served with the Ex Parte Order?
    If your batterer has not been served by the process server, you can ask a police officer to serve one of your certified copies of the Order on your batterer. Be sure that the officer understands a notice must go back to the court stating when, where, and who served the Order. If this notice doesn’t appear in your court file, you may not be able to go forward with your permanent Order of Protection. Be sure you know the officer’s name, badge number, when and where the Order was served and let the court know.

    How do I get an Order of Protection?
    You must go the General Sessions Court Clerk’s office or the Circuit Court Clerk’s office in the county where the abuse occurred or the county where your abuser lives or the county in which you live if your abuser lives in another state and ask for a petition for an Order of Protection. The clerk's office is mandated by law to assist you in filling out the petition. A magistrate or a judge will then have to sign the Ex Parte Order which must then go back to be filed with the clerk’s office. The clerk’s office will give you two certified copies of the order. A certified copy must be taken to the Sheriff’s Department so that your batterer can be served.

    A copy should be filed with the Sheriff’s Department in the county in which you live and one filed in the county in which your batterer lives. A SafeSpace advocate can assist you through this process if you cannot or do not want to attempt to get this Order on your own.

    Will I Have to go to court?
    Yes! When you file for your Order of Protection you will receive a court date for approximately two weeks away. You must attend your court date to obtain your Order. Have witnesses or other proof of abuse with you at court If the judge feels you have not proved your case, he can dismiss your Order and you will have to pay all court costs. If your Order is granted then you will have no court costs. You should have an advocate and/or an attorney with you at court. Contact SafeSpace to see about having an advocate and/or attorney present with you.

    What do I do if my batterer violates the Order?
    Call the police and tell them about the Order of Protection and try to have a copy ready to show them. Make a report. The police can arrest your batterer without a warrant if they find probable cause that the Order has been violated. You also have a right to file a violation in the court that granted your Order. A violation tells the judge that the Order has been violated. You will be given a court date in which you will need to bring proof that the Order was broken. If the judge decides the Order of Protection was violated, your batterer can get up to ten days in jail for each violation.

  • What is SafeSpace like?

    Do I have to come into the shelter in order to receive services?
    No. SafeSpace offers extensive outreach services that include counseling, support groups, court advocacy, and other services for victims of domestic violence.

    What is it like to live at SafeSpace?
    SafeSpace provides safety and support to survivors of domestic violence and their families. Depending on the size of families, residents may share a room. Residents all share a living room, children’s play room, kitchen and bathrooms. Residents live communally as everyone is involved in meal selections, preparation, and daily chores. They are free to leave shelter as needed to tend to personal matters.

    Do you shelter men?
    Yes, while SafeSpace does not shelter men within our shelter, we do provide shelter for them at another location.

    What is it like to come to support group?
    Victims and survivors of domestic violence find the informal atmosphere of support group to be very comfortable. Every one in attendance has common problems shared by all victims and survivors of domestic violence. You may not feel like talking right away but you can come and listen to what others say and feel. Everything discussed in group is confidential and our group facilitator has a great deal of knowledge and experience that will help you get tremendous benefits from attending.

    Is there any cost for the services offered by SafeSpace?
    No, every service we offer including shelter is confidential and free of charge for victims of domestic violence.

    Does SafeSpace offer domestic violence education for the community?
    Yes. SafeSpace offers extensive training opportunities for a variety of audiences including community organizations, government, schools, professions, business, and churches. For more information about domestic violence education provided by SafeSpace, call (865) 453-9254.

    How can I support the work of SafeSpace?
    There are two main ways to support SafeSpace: by donating your time as a volunteer and by donating your resources. Click HERE to go to the "Help Us" information page and read about Volunteering and Donations. We appreciate your desire to help.

  • Domestic Violence Evaluation Wheels