When someone you love and trust mistreats you, it can be extremely difficult to figure out how to handle the situation. When a spouse or domestic partner abuses you, even if they say it won’t happen again, their behavior endangers both you and your children. Even when the abuse isn’t physical, any type of mistreatment, including emotional, verbal, and financial abuse can still be extremely damaging, especially if it continues for a prolonged period of time.
If you find yourself dealing with domestic violence of any kind, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to protect yourself and get out.
Identifying the Problem
Domestic violence comes in many forms, some of which might be more difficult to identify than others. First of all, acts of domestic violence are usually inflicted by a spouse, partner, or family member and can include actual harm or the threat of harm. Domestic violence can be physical, emotional, sexual, mental, or financial.
Some common acts of domestic violence include:
- Hitting, pushing, or other physically harmful acts
- Sexual harassment, including unwanted touching or rape
- Exerting absolute control over finances, taking away one’s independence
- Controlling the person’s actions, sometimes resulting in isolation
- Intimidation, or using threats and coercion
- Yelling, belittling, name-calling, or using threats to cause fear
Anyone dealing with the above behaviors, or other similar acts of domestic violence, should take immediate action to get away from their abuser. If you are in an abusive relationship, make sure you know how to leave the situation safely and quickly.
Follow these steps to get help if you are in an abusive relationship:
1. Make a Plan
If you are in immediate danger, you should always call 911 to ask for police interference. However, in some cases getting out of the situation calls for more forethought. If your abuser monitors your phone, your computer, controls your finances, or somehow wields control over your actions, you should think about how you can get out without putting yourself in harm’s way. Find time to do your research when your abuser isn’t home, or use a friend’s computer or reach out to a neighbor for help. However you do it, make sure you do not put yourself in danger.
2. Reach Out for Help
Once you’ve ensured your own safety, reach out for help wherever you can. Contact friends or family members who can be of assistance, let them know what’s happening and tell them that you need help getting out. You should also contact domestic violence help groups near you, which you can find online or through local organizations and women’s centers. Domestic violence organizations can provide you with helpful information, including comprehensive plans for your unique situation.
There are also hotlines you can call for help, such as The National Domestic Violence Hotline. As an added safety precaution, this hotline helps visitors protect themselves if their abuser is monitoring their computer or phone.
3. Get To Safety
Once you have done your research and contacted people for help, it’s time to make your big move. You may wish to remain in your home, but in most situations, it is safest to get away from your abuser until you can get a restraining order. Until then, pack a bag with your necessities and go to the home of a friend, family member, or a contact you received from a domestic violence organization. When you leave, make sure you take copies of your important documents with you, if you can. This includes your passport, ID, birth certificate, tax information, marriage certificate, medical record, and so on.
If you have children, take them with you. Never leave your children with your abuser, even if he or she has never hurt them before. With you gone, your abuser may attempt to use your children as leverage, which can be exceedingly dangerous.
4. Find Legal Support
Your next step after leaving your abuser should be to seek legal counsel immediately. If you’ve contacted a domestic abuse support group, they may have already suggested this, but either way, you need to know your legal options. A lawyer could help you obtain a restraining order, which would prevent your abuser from harming you or contacting you. You could also use legal means to remove your abuser from the home so that you can return with your children, or to retrieve the rest of your things. Your attorney can also help you obtain temporary custody of your children until a more permanent solution is resolved in court, and, if you were married, your attorney could help you begin the divorce process.
Don’t let the violence in your home continue, if you are in an abusive relationship, take the necessary steps to get out while you can. Our experienced attorneys at Smith Law Offices, LLC, are here to help protect your family from harm, permanently.
Contact Smith Law Offices, LLCto discuss your domestic violence case with our St. Charles family law attorneys.