First, and most importantly: If you or someone you know is in imminent physical danger, call 911. The police, EMTs, and other first responders are the best people to help protect your physical safety.
Unfortunately, many families experience some kind of domestic violence. One of the great tragedies is that some domestic violence victims may have difficulty leaving their abuser. Fortunately, for those victims who decide to get out of their abusive relationship, there are many organizations available to offer help with domestic violence. Read on to learn more about how to get help with domestic violence.
If someone in your family hurt you or a child, the best thing to do is to contact the police and file a report as soon as possible. The police can help with domestic violence cases by providing you with a safe place to live while they investigate your case, and will be able to put you in touch with other important resources such as food banks, employment services, and attorneys. The officer with whom you speak will write a report about your conversation. This can serve as evidence that you were abused in later court proceedings.
Many people don’t go to the police because they are afraid that they’ll get in trouble for something else, or believe that the police won’t take their claims seriously. In previous decades, police responses to domestic violence may not have been as prompt, adding to the fear of reporting. Although these fears aren’t unreasonable, a family's safety should be the highest priority. Thanks to a reformation in police practices including gathering more evidence when it comes to the victim and the abuser, the attention domestic violence cases receive has skyrocketed. These reforms have led to many more victims’ lives being saved.
Doctors, Dentists, Clergy, or Your Child's School Officials
These people are all mandatory reporters and have at least some training in the issues surrounding domestic violence. They may be able to help with domestic violence cases by putting victims in touch with organizations that can offer aid. Additionally, most information you provide your doctor or clergy is generally confidential and privileged. As suggested in the link above, these individuals also generally have a duty to report child abuse.
There are many nonprofit organizations dedicated to helping people cope with domestic abuse. First there's the national domestic violence hotline, 1-800-799-SAFE. Additionally, each state has its own organizations that provide services to domestic abuse victims. Find out how to contact the ones in your state.
Legal Aid and Family Law Attorneys
Attorneys specializing in family law also tend to have connections to available resources to help with domestic violence cases. They can also help you create a plan for how to safely leave an abuser and assist in getting you an order of protection or temporary restraining order. If you cannot afford an attorney, contact your state's legal aid organization to see if you qualify for free representation.
For more information, see FindLaw's section on Domestic Violence.