Nevada's domestic violence rates are some of the highest in the nation. Needs assessments in Elko and Churchill Counties showed that domestic violence prevention is a high-priority issue. Children living in violent homes are at greater risk for abuse. Research shows that as children witness violence at home, they develop attitudes about violence and power in relationships that can pass to future generations. Children who witness violence also experience problems as adults, such as depression, anxiety, trauma-related symptoms, and increased tolerance for and use of violence in relationships.

Extension's Heart & Shield: Rural Domestic Violence Prevention Program, led by Extension Educators Jill Baker-Tingey and Pamela Powell, works to spread awareness and prevent violence in Elko and Churchill Counties in three ways.

  1. law enforcement training
  2. direct education and non-crisis intervention for surviving families
  3. community education

Building strong families

Families engage in nurturing and trust-building activities that encourage positive family interactions.

Encouraging positive relationships

Children, youth and teens participate in activities geared for their age. Children, birth to 3 years, play, read books and sing together. Children, ages 4-8 years, learn about feelings, solve problems and play with new friends. Youth, ages 9-12, and teens, ages 13-18, learn to communicate respectfully, use tools to calm down, make good decisions and build healthy relationships.

Moving forward

Kids learn to recognize and manage feelings, build positive friendships, make good decisions, care about others and solve problems.

Having fun together

Group activities and Family Night Out events provide opportunities for parents and kids of all ages to have fun together, learn positive skills for family interaction and encourage curiosity and imagination.

"The different topics helped my family grow closer and healthier together." -Heart and Shield participant

Learning new skills

Parents learn to actively listen and communicate with family members, reduce stress, calmly solve problems, maintain healthy relationships and guide children, youth and teens.

Connecting with others

Families engage in fun activities to help build supportive networks, learn about community resources and make new friends with other families in the program.

Planning for a positive future

Parent survivors and their children who have experienced domestic violence gain skills to strengthen their family

Building Hope for the Future

A family violence prevention program for families who have previously experienced domestic violence

The Heart & Shield program provides parents and children with resources and skills to strengthen family relationships and build resilience. Parent survivors of former domestic violence and their children ages birth -18 may be eligible to participate. This nine-week education program includes a light meal, separate skill building activities for adults and children, and family activities to practice skills together. Program topics include communication, emotions, problem-solving, healthy relationships, stress management and more. For information, contact Julie Woodbury at 775-340-8360 or


Domestic Violence: An Overview

The purpose of this publication is to help readers understand the dynamics of Intimate Partner Violence (IPV), by providing an overview of various forms of control exhibited toward victims. As Nevada nortoriously ranks high in reports of IPV, understanding how IPV impacts our communities is crucial in developing strategies to address it.

Domestic Violence's Effect on Children

Domestic Violence is defined as "a pattern of abusive behavior in a relationship, where one intimate partner uses violence to gain and/or maintain power and control over another" (U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, 2011). Though this term is defined within an intimate partner relationship, domestic violence also affects children in these relationships. Children who live amidst violence are more likely to hear and see it directly, or indirectly, and/or to witness evidence of the aftermath (i.e., broken furniture, injured family members, etc.). They can also become caught in the crossfire between perpetrators and victims.

How to help a victim of domestic violence

For victims, admitting to friends and family that they are suffering abuse is extremely difficult. Not only are victims afraid of their abusers, but they are often fearful of the response they will receive from others when they learn of the abuse (Zosky, 2011). To support the victim and to help assure them that the abuse they are suffering is undeserved, it is important that family, friends and community members understand what they can do to help victims of domestic violence. The purpose of this publication is to provide an overview of the difficulties victims face when leaving an abusive situation, and what we can do to help them be successful in leaving.

Orders of Protection: Domestic Violence

Leaving an abusive situation is often frightening and dangerous, and it is often necessary for victims to obtain the help of the court system in their pursuit to remain safe. One safety tool the victim can request is an Order of Protection. The purpose of this fact sheet is to describe what an Order of Protection is, the process followed to obtain one, and the need to report order violations.

Law Enforcement Training

Investigating Domestic Violence Crimes in Nevada

Approaching the Scene

  • Consider threat level
  • Wait for backup, if possible
  • Park out of sight from the scene (not in front)
  • Observations
  • What did you see and hear
  • What's relevant to the scene and evidence
  • Make written and/or mental notes for report
  • Be aware of lighting conditions
  • Cautious approach minimizes the level of risk
  • Assess cover/concealment
  • Assess structure/scene
  • Obtain pertinent information from dispatch

(ALWAYS assume weapons are involved)

On-Scene Checklist

Once the Scene is Safe...

Primary Checklist

  • Request medical... ALWAYS in strangulation cases
  • Determine and document relationship
  • Document and photograph: scene, suspect and victims
  • Document any injuries observed and/or claimed
  • Document evidence of alcohol or drug use
  • Request voluntary PBT or urine samples, if appropriate
  • Document presence of children, their ages and demeanor; photograph and document any injuries
  • Document spontaneous statements and emotional state of EVERYONE, especially the victim
  • If possible, interview involved persons in front of the vehicle for video or make other arrangements to videotape statements
  • Schedule time with victim to obtain follow-up photos
  • Request medical release from victims
  • Consider other possible crimes to charge (stalking, kidnapping, destruction of property, etc.)
  • Obtain physical evidence from the scene and hospital
  • Locate and identify other witnesses - neighbors, children, other family members and medical personnel
  • Request criminal history and local information for involved persons
  • Request 911 recording and log into evidence
  • Obtain booking photo and phone calls from jail
  • Offer to call domestic violence advocate to scene after secure
  • Contact on-call Deputy District Attorney, if necessary
  • Document the incident even if an arrest did not occur

Tips for Interviewing Victims

  • While you must control the scene - remain calm
  • Realize that authority figures may scare the victim and family members
  • Realize that the victim and children may be conditioned by the abuser not to talk to law enforcement
  • If children are present, secure them in an adjacent location and interview victim away from children
  • Talk to victim before the suspect
  • Interview victim out of earshot and out of sight of the suspect
  • Reassure victim that you will listen to what victim has to say
  • Acknowledge that you are concerned for the victim and the family's safety
  • Offer victim services information and offer to call advocate
  • Be patient - telling the story of abuse may cause the victim to relive the abuse
  • Record interview
  • Question all statements by the victim that injuries were caused by an accident
  • Tell the victim NEVER to hesitate in calling the police for help; remind the victim that the victim is not bothering the police by calling
  • Remind victim that another officer may respond to further calls and may need to ask similar historical questions
  • Track family violence cases to identify repeat offenders
  • If the victim indicates that there are other victims, contact the other victims
  • Review all past reports, even if they were cleared by patrol
  • Investigate all stalking complaints

Interviewing Victims and Assessing Risk for Lethality

Some victims can leave and never be troubled by the batterer again; others must go to the extreme of moving across the country and changing their identity. Most battered victims fall somewhere in between. Use the following questions to help determine the possible lethality risk and help the victim make plans. REMEMBER, battered victims are usually the best authority on their own safety.

  • Are you afraid to talk to the police? If so, why?
  • Please describe in detail what happened.
  • Has this every happened before?
  • (Ask italicized questions if abuse has happened in the past)
  • If yes, how often does it happen?
  • When was the first time?
  • What was the worst incident?
  • When did it occur?
  • When was the last time?
  • Has the physical violence increased in frequency or severity over the past six months?
  • Has he/she used a weapon or threatened you with a weapon?
  • Has the batterer ever been arrested before for violence against you or another member of the household?
  • Have you ever been treated by a doctor or hospitalized for injuries inflicted by the batterer that was not reported to the police?
  • Is there now, or has there ever been, any protective/restraining orders in effect?
  • Is the batterer on probation or parole?
  • Have you talked to friends/family about incidents not reported to the police?
  • Has the batterer ever forced you to have unwanted sex?
  • Does the batterer use drugs or drink excessively; if so, how often?
  • Has the batterer threatened to kill you?
  • Do you believe the batterer is capable of killing you?
  • Does the batterer control most or all of your daily activities? (For instance, does the batterer tell you who you can be friends with, how much money you can take with you shopping, or when you can take the car, etc.)
  • Have you ever been beaten by the batterer during a pregnancy?
  • Is the batterer violently and/or constantly jealous of you?
  • Has the batterer ever threatened or tried to commit suicide?
  • Has the batterer threatened to harm you or your children?
  • Is the batterer unemployed?
  • Do you currently have another (different) intimate partner?
  • Does the batterer follow or spy on you, leave threatening notes, destroy your property and/or make unwanted calls to you?
  • What are your immediate concerns for you and your family?
  • What do you feel you need to do?
  • What are your fears for the future?
  • Can I help you contact your family or friends?

Frequently Asked Questions

What is / isn't family violence?

Family violence is a pattern of behavior used to gain power and control over another person. It is not an isolated argument between family members or strangers. It is not normal, reasonable discipline of children.

Abuse comes in many forms, including physical, sexual, psychological, verbal, and financial.

Physical Abuse

Physical Abuse: when anyone you know uses violent force against you to make you behave a certain way. This can include punching, beating, kicking, biting, shaking, throwing, stabbing, choking, hitting, burning, or any action that causes you pain and injury. They are not accidents. If you're physically abused, you may have cuts, bruises or marks on your body.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual Abuse: when anyone you know forces or coerces you into sexual behavior you don't want to do, such as rape or watching/making pornography. It doesn't have to be physical either: calling you inappropriate names, like "Sexy" and "Hottie" or talking about sexual topics which make you feel uncomfortable, is also abusive. If you are sexually abused, you may be scared, confused, feel "dirty" and wash excessively.

Psychological/Verbal Abuse

Psychological/Verbal Abuse: when anyone you know puts you down, calls you names or accuses you of things you haven't done to make you feel worthless. Abusers may also deny they have hurt you and make you question your sanity (i.e.: "I didn't hit you that hard" or "If you hadn't done X, I wouldn't have had to hurt you"), or isolate you from family and friends. If you are psychologically or verbal abused, you may feel all alone and that no one cares about you.

Financial Abuse

Financial Abuse: when anyone you know uses finances as a way to control you, such as tracking and questioning all your purchases, not letting you spend money without their permission, giving you an "allowance" based on their judgements of your behavior, harassing you at your work/forcing you to lose your job so that you are financially dependent on them, etc. If you are financially abused, you may not have the funds to escape an abusive relationship.

Is there help available?

Yes. There are state and national resources available to victims who need help realizing what is happening to them, who are trying to leave their abuser and/or who are safe and attempting to heal from their abuse. You can access the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's State Coalitions webpage to find resources near you.

News Articles, Fact Sheets, Reports...
Woman leaning against a wall with her head down
The hard truth about domestic violence
Intimate partner violence doesn't discriminate. It can happen to anyone. Learn more about its impacts on victims, survivors and the economy, and find local and national resources.
Andrews, A. 2019, Nevada Today
The Medical Cost of Domestic Violence
What is typically igonored is the financial cost domestic violence places on society, in terms of housing, child care, employment and criminal justice services
C. Powell, P. Powell, J. Baker-Tingey 2018, Extension | University of Nevada, Reno FS-18-02

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Learn more about the program's team

Jill Baker-Tingey
Program Leader & Contact

Extension Director's Office | On the campus of University of Nevada, Reno