Ask a Family Law or Domestic Violence Attorney for Legal Advice
Domestic violence refers to any violent or aggressive behavior within the home from one person to another; most often, this involves the abuse of one spouse by the other, but can also occur in roommate scenarios. The first thing someone needs to do in a domestic violence situation is find safety; if you or your children are in immediate danger, call the police for assistance. After that, it’s a good idea to contact a family law attorney, or a domestic violence attorney if you have been accused of domestic violence. These attorneys will help evaluate your situation and decide if and/or what legal action needs to be taken to protect you and your family.
If you decide to take legal action after a domestic violence incident, it’s not a bad idea to look into filing a restraining order. After filling out the proper paperwork, you will attend a hearing and wait for a judge to reach a decision. This can protect you in case of a real threat of danger while you are deciding how to handle the domestic violence situation overall.
What are the Statistics on Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is alarmingly common, yet many victims struggle to take action to stop the abuse. A variety of factors may influence this decision or lack of decision, including fear of repercussion, fear regarding child custody and safety, and a hope that the abuser will change their ways.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) has presented these statistics on domestic violence in the United States:
- On average, approximately 20 people are physically abused each minute by an intimate partner. This equates to over 10 million women and men in one year.
- 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence.
- Typically there are over 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines every day.
- Intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crime.
- Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
- 19% of domestic violence involves a weapon.
- Domestic victimization is correlated with a higher rate of depression and suicidal behavior.
- Only 34% of people injured by an intimate partner received medical care for their injuries.
- 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90% of these children are eyewitnesses to the violence.
- Between 21%-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons related to the abuse.
The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year.
What to Do if You Are Experiencing Domestic Violence
If you have experienced or are experiencing domestic violence, there are a series of steps you can take to protect yourself and your family from further harm. Additionally, it’s a good idea to contact a family law attorney to discuss your situation and ensure that you have every protection available to you in place. Domestic violence can result in severe injuries, mental anguish, lost wages, medical bills, other financial damage and more. If you are experiencing domestic violence, steps you can take may include:
- Create a safety plan for your situation. If you are still living with the abusive partner, create a safety plan to protect yourself and any children or pets with you. To learn more about the specifics of safety planning, go here to read tips from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- Make a plan for leaving. Figure out where you intend to go; pick a safe place for both you and your children. An example of this might be that you stay with family and the children go to stay with a friend. Call your local domestic violence shelter to learn about the laws and resources available in your state. To see specific laws and resources on a state by state basis, go here.
- Collect personal information/evidence. Before leaving it’s important to retain any personal documents/certificates including driver’s license, birth certificate (and those of your children if applicable), social security cards, and financial documents in your name. It’s also important to keep any evidence of the violence in the form of pictures, journal entries, or anything else that could prove how the violence occurred. These should go with if/when you leave, and copies should also be stored in a safe place; for example, sending pictures of injuries and other documentary evidence to a friend or family member is a good way to make sure it can’t go missing.
- Make a post-leaving safety plan. This might include activating caller ID on your phone, changing your route to work or other places you habitually visit, and informing your children’s school of the situation. If you have a restraining order, keep it with you at all times. Reschedule appointments that the abuser is aware of. Inform your neighbors, friends, teachers, etc. of the situation so they know to be on the lookout. Install security systems and new locks if possible
- Consider filing a restraining/protective order. A restraining order or protective order can legally prohibit the abuser from coming within a certain distance of you. This does not replace a safety plan or prevent psychological harm, but does ensure that a legal document exists proving that the abuser would be breaking the law by coming near you. Applications for a protective or restraining order can be found in courthouses, women’s shelters, and some police stations.
- If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1. Don’t hesitate to call the police if you or your children are in immediate danger. If the danger is not immediate but you have suffered domestic violence, reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline here for help and further resources.
What if You Have Been Accused of Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence lawyers are well-versed in defending their clients from wrongful abuse claims. If you have been accused of domestic violence, contact a domestic violence attorney to discuss your rights and options. Domestic violence claims can result in anything from a misdemeanor to a felony depending on the surrounding circumstances of the case, and can result in jail-time, lost custody, and more. Don’t attempt to combat wrongful domestic violence accusations on your own. Talk to an expert who can help protect you.