Often times, victims of domestic violence can feel trapped in their situation because children are involved, there is a lack of available resources or simply fear of more abuse if they try to leave. There are, of course, many self-help resources for victims of domestic violence such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. Victims of domestic violence can – and should also call the police if they are subject to physical violence or threats of violence.
If you find yourself or a loved one victim of domestic violence, here are some steps you can take to ensure your safety and get yourself out of the abusive situation.
Step 1: Find a domestic violence shelter
A domestic violence shelter is a building or set of apartments where victims of domestic violence can go to seek refuge from their abusers. Domestic violence shelters generally have room for both the victim and their children. The shelter provides basic living needs including food and childcare. While the length of time someone is able to stay at the shelter is limited, most shelters will help find permanent living situations, jobs and other necessities to help a victim of domestic violence start a new life. Domestic violence shelters also offer other services including counseling, support groups, services for children, employment programs, health-related services, educational opportunities and financial assistance.
Step 2: Hire an attorney
The next step in getting out of a domestic violence situation is to hire an attorney. Having an experienced attorney on your side will not only help you or a loved one navigate through this difficult situation, but they can help you secure the best outcome for you and your children. Whether it’s getting a restraining order, helping you file for divorce and getting custody of your children or by representing you in court, an attorney can help you every step of the way.
Step 3: Get a protection or restraining order in place
Once you’ve hired an attorney, they can help you get a protection or restraining order in place. Victims of domestic violence can seek a protective order, also known as a restraining order, which prohibits the abuser from making contact, coming within a certain distance of the victim or possessing firearms. There are certain instances where a protective order can also require the abuser to move out of a home that is shared with the victim.
Dealing with domestic violence can be challenging, both emotionally and legally. By taking these first steps and having an experienced family law attorney on your side can help you secure the best outcome for yourself and your future.