Congratulations! You’ve read important information on Domestic Violence.
Throughout the blog, we have learned what domestic violence is, who is affected, its prevalence and impact, and why people batter – in addition to invaluable tips on anger management and other ways to improve ourselves. In this, the last lesson of this blog, we will close by learning how to take action against domestic violence. If you are in an abusive relationship, there are steps you can take to get help. If you are abusing your partner in any way, there are things you can do right now, today, to get help and stop the cycle of abuse. We’ll also discuss things you can do either if you suspect someone close to you is being abused, or if you know someone who is an abuser. The guidelines we’ll outline in this lesson can help you help yourself, and/or others in need.
How To Find Help If You Are Being Abused
As we’ve discussed throughout this course, when you’re being abused either in a relationship, whether or not by an intimate partner, it can be very hard to admit, either to yourself or others that you are being abused, let alone know what to do to get help. Perhaps you’re afraid of what might happen if you leave your partner, or maybe you hope that he or she will change. Whatever your circumstances, remember this: no one deserves to be abused. You deserve to be treated with respect and to live without fear. Leaving an abusive relationship may be one of the most difficult things you ever do, but you are not alone, and there is help. The following are steps that you can choose to take if you are being abused:
Social Support: Many times when you are being abused, your partner has isolated you from your family and friends. As a result, you may no longer feel like you have them to rely upon, which can make it even more difficult for you to not only deal with the abuse but also to make the decision to leave the relationship. You may begin to find support by reaching out to them, regardless of how long it’s been since you last spoke, and you may very well find that they love you and want to help you.
If you feel like you have no one to turn to, for whatever reason, you might consider reaching out to domestic violence hotlines and other services. Hotline operators and service providers are specially trained to offer support and resources or to simply listen if you need someone to talk to. There are many hotlines, both locally and nationally, that you can call. One that you can call anytime, anywhere in the United States is the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).
External Support and Services: There are many resources and services available for victims of domestic abuse and their children. One of the first steps you may want to take, to get immediately away from the violence, is to find a shelter near you. One way to do so is by visiting Womenslaw.org for a state-by-state directory of domestic violence shelters, crisis centers, and programs.
For a short period, domestic violence shelters will provide you with a temporary place to live, as well as your necessities and food. Beyond meeting your most basic needs, shelters may also assist with counseling, peer support groups, legal help, health services, and employment programs.
Making a Plan: If you decide to leave the relationship, start by making a plan. Your plan may include deciding exactly how you’re going to leave, and do so quickly, and where you’re going to go when you leave. You may decide to go to a friend or relative’s house, or a domestic violence shelter. Wherever you go, it’s a good idea to have an “emergency bag” packed and ready.
Fill this bag with the essential items you will need, such as birth certificate, social security card, money, your checkbook, driver’s license, medications, clothing, passport, and medical records. Keep this bag in a safe and accessible place. You may hide it in your home, in your car, or keep it at a friend’s house. You will probably need to rehearse your plan and become very familiar with it.
What to Do After You Leave: To maintain your safety, it may be best to take precautionary measures. If your partner has a key or other access, consider changing the locks on your doors and windows. If you absolutely must remain in contact with your abuser, determine the safest way to do so. Only agree to meet in well-lit, public places, and bring someone with you if at all possible. If your abuser attempts to follow you home, do not go home; instead, drive to the nearest hospital, fire station, or police station, and make your presence known.