Domestic Violence. Such an ugly word, yet many women, children, and even men find themselves the victim at an abuser’s hand. Statistics show that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men over the age of 18 will have physical abuse perpetrated against them by an intimate partner. Far too many underreport the instances or believe the lie that their beloved will never hurt them again. Child victims often suffer in silence, scared to speak out, and are often unaware of who they can ask for help. Bruises, scars, both emotional and physical are the frightening reality for many.
Recently, I have heard many heart-breaking stories of domestic violence becoming so severe that it has led to death, even to innocent children. Here are some tips of what to do if you or a loved one becomes the victim of domestic violence.
Report, Report, Report
Don’t be afraid to call 911. The first step to getting the help you need is to contact authorities, file a report, and be sure to keep record of the incident number for future reference.
Go to the Emergency Room
Be sure to have a thorough examination. Do not lie about your injuries. Speak out that they occurred at the hand of an abuser, so the medial personnel can take photos and document the injuries.
Tell Someone You Trust
It is important that you feel validated and supported. It will be imperative that you seek the support of a trusted loved one or friend during this time. It is the nature of the abuser to manipulate you with false promises and gifts, always seeking to isolate you from others. Having another person to help keep you grounded during this time will be crucial.
Find A Shelter or Agency
If you or your children are in immediate danger be sure to leave the situation. Contact agencies such as Your Safe Haven or a local shelter.
If the abuse is severe and you fear for your children and yourself be sure to place a Protection from Abuse (PFA) or restraining order against the perpetrator. This can ensure the abuser does not have access to the children until a court hearing has taken place. Additionally, breaking the rules will result in the abuser immediately being apprehended.
Hire an Experienced Attorney A crucial part of your case will be having competent legal help. You do not want to show up to court ill prepared. Be sure to arrive on time for your hearing, remember your paperwork, including police reports, photos, and affidavits. Allow your attorney to fight for you. If you are called upon for testimony be sure to speak up and tell the truth. Avoid dragging children along to the hearing unless required by the courts.