We can all take steps to stop domestic violence. If you or a loved one is trying to leave an abusive relationship, it's important to remember the person who is hurting you or your loved one is the person who needs to change. However, your abusermay be unable or unwilling change.
The only way to permanently stop domestic violence is for everyone to no longer try to control and abuse those they love. This goal will take educating our kids to respect their romantic partners by demonstrating respectful, healthy relationships with our spouses and partners.
Q: What can I do to stop domestic violence?
Anyone can help stop domestic violence by taking these steps:
Q: I'm thinking of leaving an abusive relationship. Where do I start?
First, plan for your safety. Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or your local domestic violence outreach organization to learn more about how to create a safety plan or to discuss how to approach a friend about your concerns for his or her relationship. In addition, you or your loved one may want to attend a domestic violence support group. Read more in FindLaw's article on getting help with domestic violence.
Q: I'm afraid to call the police, but can I?
Remember you can always call 911 if anyone is hurting you or threatening to hurt you. There are potential consequences for your abuser such as arrest, conviction for domestic violence, and deportation. However, it’s important to keep in mind that it was the abuser who took the action that resulted in you or your loved one needing to call the police for protection. If you do call the police and they respond in an inappropriate manner, such as ignoring your call for help, consider consulting with your local domestic violence agency or a qualified civil rights attorney.
Q: I'm not safe at home. Where can I go?
If you need to immediately leave a home you share with your abuser, you can call your local domestic violence agency for information about how to enter the local domestic violence shelter or confidential motel voucher program. Shelters are frequently full and you may have to leave your area to find a safe, confidential shelter. If your abuser has not been trying to find you or is highly unlikely to try to find you, you may consider leaving to a regular, homeless women's shelter.
Q: I've left my abuser. What can I do to stop him or her from coming after me?
A great legal option is a protection order, which is a court order that says your abuser cannot come within a certain number of feet of you, your home, your car, your work, or your school. This doesn’t prevent an abuser from stalking or attacking you, but it does allow you to call the police for assistance if he or she does violate the order. Read more about protection orders at the FindLaw article on protection orders.
Q: Where should I go for professional legal assistance?
A: Although there are officials within the criminal justice system that can provide some assistance, such as prosecutors and victims' advocates, their advice and assistance is typically limited to issues relating to the prosecution of your attacker. Hiring your own family law attorney can help make you aware of the rights and resources available elsewhere.