What is Domestic Violence?
Violence in your household may force you to make tough choices to keep yourself and your family safe. Domestic violence is considered any type of actual or attempted physical, verbal, or sexual abuse between family or household members, including you, your children, your current or former spouse, or someone living with you. Violence of any nature affects children dramatically, often more than adults. Your children could be witnesses to or victims of battering and heated arguments, be indirectly injured by being in the same room during a fight, be neglected or told to stay out of the way, or suffer emotional damage after watching a parent be abused. Incidents you may think are “understandable” or “not a big deal” may be viewed differently by your children or other family members, so it is important to listen to family and friends if they express concern.
Safety should be your first priority, even it means making hard decisions like separating your family. You may ask for an emergency abuse prevention order (also called a 209A or “protective order”), or request a hearing for a final, long-term order. A judge may order the abuser to stay away from your family and certain places, pay for any losses and temporary support, protect your address, give you temporary custody of minor children, and possibly visitation guidelines. Your situation will determine which orders are included to ensure your safety. After a restraining order is granted, you can request that it be changed or made permanent at a court hearing. You can also report incidents to the court if the abuser violates the court order. Check with your attorney to see if there are any certain restrictions on moving within or out of state if you have been granted a restraining order.
Our attorneys can walk you through your options and better understand your rights. Call us today to discuss your situation and learn what you can do to stay safe.
Keeping Yourself and Your Family Safe
Whether you stay in the same house or relocate, it is a good idea to have a safety plan in place to protect yourself and other family members. Your plan should include safe places in your house free of anything that could be used as a weapon, ways to escape the house quickly, and a code word to use if you have children to let them know they need to leave the house or get help. Keep copies of important documents like birth certificates, passports, and social security information in several places so you can grab them quickly if needed. Be sure to discuss your plans with your children. For more tips on safety while you are involved in or attempting to leave an abusive relationship, visit the Womens Law website.
Print out this Emergency Checklist so you will be prepared if you ever need to leave a violent household.