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Domestic Violence

Abuse generally follows a pattern of anger/abuse followed by remorse and promises never to do it again, only to be followed by another bout of anger or depression and abuse. Every time the cycle occurs, it worsens and the interval between each stage shortens.

What to Do

It can be difficult to extricate yourself from an abusive relationship. It can also be dangerous, so take steps to protect yourself and your children. If possible, plan your escape ahead of time and enlist the help of trusted friends and/or family members.

First, get you and your children to a safe place. Go to a family member's house, a neighbor's, a nearby hospital or women's shelter. If possible, take your keys, money, any prescription medication, extra clothes and any important papers with you. Once you are safe, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE or 7233) or the police if you want to bring charges or if you are in immediate danger.

The fastest way to get legal help is to file for a Court Order of Protection, a legal notice that requires the abuser to stop the violence and abuse. It can require the abuser to stay away from you and prevent him or her from contacting you in any way. It can also award you temporary custody of your children and ensure that he or she pays child and/or spousal support and that your insurance coverage continues.

To get a Court Order of Protection, you must fill out an application, which can be obtained at the local courthouse, women's shelters, legal offices, and some police stations. The court will then set a hearing date when you will have to appear in court to convince the judge that you were threatened with, or suffered, abuse. If you need immediate protection because you believe you are in danger, ask for an Emergency (Ex Parte) Order. This is signed the same day you apply, before the abuser knows about the action, and will give you immediate protection once it is served on the abuser until there is a hearing.

You are not alone. There are many resources available to help you if you are being abused. If you stay in the relationship, the abuse will not stop. The only way to protect you and your children is to leave the abuser and remove yourself from the situation. No one deserves to be abused

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