Domestic violence is a major societal problem and the courts are beginning to realize that it can only play a small role in ending the cycle of family violence. Courts now utilize jail sentences, fines, community service and intensive counseling in order to help abusers control their temper and manage their anger. If you are the victim of domestic violence you must act quickly to protect yourself. There are many social service agencies available that you can contact, and local law enforcement is there to protect you should the need arise. If you have been charged with domestic violence you also need to seek legal counsel immediately.
While many times domestic violence is filed in the county courts as a simple misdemeanor, the judges assigned to handle theses types of cases treat a domestic violence situation with more urgency than they handle many of the other crimes that come before them. Many people charged with domestic violence find it hard to obtain release from local jails as judges are concerned that return to the home could result in escalated violence and injury.
If you are charged with domestic violence it is very important that you contact competent legal counsel in order to help resolve the issue. Many times attorneys can be helpful to steer an individual toward counseling programs that are available for individuals in this area. Also, many times it is helpful to have an attorney to help get an individual release on bond with the appropriate conditions of release while the case is pending. Should you have any questions you should contact an attorney regarding the domestic violence situation you have found yourself in.
Having a safety plan means that there are things you can do to keep you and your children safe from domestic violence:
- When an attack starts, try to escape. If you feel you’re in danger, leave your home and take your children, no matter what time it is. Go to the house of a friend or relative or a domestic violence shelter. Defend and protect yourself. Later, take photos of your injuries. Call for help. Scream as loud and as long as you can.
- You have nothing to be ashamed of – the abusive person does. Stay close to a door or window so you can get out if you need to. Stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, and weapons. Practice your escape. Know which doors, windows, elevator, or stairs would be best. Have a packed bag ready. Hide it in a place that you can get to quickly.
- Identify neighbors you can tell about the violence. Ask them to call the police if they hear signs of domestic violence coming from your home. Have a “code word” to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors. Ask them to call the police when you say that word. Know where to go if you have to leave home, even if you don’t think you’ll have to. Trust your instincts. Do whatever you have to do to survive.
- Open a savings account in your own name. Give the bank a safe address, like a post office box or your work address. Leave money, an extra set of keys, and copies of your important papers with someone you trust. You may need to leave home fast, and you’ll need these things later. Think about who you could stay with and who can lend you money. Keep the phone number of the domestic violence shelter nearby. Keep some change or a calling card with you at all times so you can call if there’s an emergency.
- Leaving is the most dangerous time. Thinking about your safety plan before you leave will help you when the time comes. If you have to leave your children, get them back as soon as possible. Get legal advice or call a domestic violence agency.
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as you can. Put locks on all your doors and windows. Ask your local phone company for an unlisted number. Sometimes this service is free. Teach your children how to be safe, for times when you’re not with them.
- Make sure your children’s school or daycare provider knows who is allowed to pick up your children. Tell your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your partner near your home. Ask the court for a protective order and keep it with you at all times