5 Legal Tips to Handle Domestic Violence

Consideration was given for the editing and publication of this post.

Domestic violence is a harrowing experience to live through, as well as a serious public health issue. Even though living with an abusive partner or co-habitator can be terrifying, many domestic violence victims remain with their abusers because the idea of reporting the abuse is even scarier. Perpetrators of domestic violence frequently create a climate of fear, rendering the victim utterly dependent on their abuser and convincing them that they will be worse off if they leave.

If you are a victim of domestic abuse, you have the right to live your life free of violence and shame. Legal avenues exist in the USA to help people escape violent situations, allowing them to live unencumbered by worry or danger. Whether you are suffering from domestic violence or know someone who is, these five legal tips can help you take steps towards a better life.

Keep a Record

While protection orders are not the only legal measure available to domestic violence victims, they are among the most common. To grant protection orders, however, a court must have substantial evidence that the order is warranted. In order to prove that such a request is necessary, it’s important to keep a record of abusive incidents in any way you can. Evidence can include photos, videos, audio recordings, copies of correspondence (emails and text messages), and relevant medical records. If you have children, document who cares for them and to what extent; this information can be invaluable to a future custody case. Ask any witnesses to events of abuse if they’d be willing to testify in court on your behalf. If you have a domestic abuse attorney, send your documentation to them early and often to minimize the risk of your abuser finding and tampering with it or destroying this crucial evidence.

Make a Safety Plan

Escaping domestic violence requires careful planning to allow the victim to leave in the safest way possible. Pack an emergency bag with money, medications, keys, essential documents such as passports, social security cards, and medical records, and clothes for yourself and any children. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged and nearby at all times, and commit important phone numbers to memory, including the nearest domestic violence shelter. Communicate with trusted friends and family about your abuse, and advise them of how they can help. If you need help creating a safety plan, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Apply for Emergency Protection Orders as Soon as Possible

The most dangerous time for survivors of domestic violence is right after they leave. Abusers may resort to increasingly drastic and violent measures if they feel their control waning. If you didn’t apply for protection orders before leaving, do so as soon as possible. An emergency protection order (EPO) will grant you protection for a limited amount of time, enough for you to request a long-term protection order that is more thorough, detailed, and permanent. With your input, a good domestic violence lawyer will draft an application for protection orders specific to your unique situation.

When Escaping Domestic Violence, it is Legal to Take Children with You

Many abusers threaten to file a missing child report if the victim escapes with their children. Often, victims stay with their abusers for much longer than necessary because they are afraid for their children’s safety and don’t know the true nature of parental kidnapping laws. These laws are complex and vary by state. Still, in most cases, you can file for a temporary emergency custody order to protect yourself and your children from your abuser’s manipulative tactics. Also known as “ex parte” orders, these will grant you custody of your children for a short period, giving you time to file more permanent custody and protection orders, if necessary. An experienced domestic abuse attorney can advise you on the best course of action to ensure you and your children’s safety.

Know Your State and Local Laws About Domestic Violence

Whether or not domestic violence has personally touched your life, an informed public is key to early reporting and prevention of this serious societal ill. Familiarize yourself with your state and local laws about domestic violence, as well as the warning signs. Depending on your profession and state, you may be required by law to report any domestic violence you are aware of or suspect. If you work in these professions, you probably already know your responsibilities. However, anyone can and should report abuse, and these voluntary reporters are generally entitled to legal protection of their own. If you are unsure of your responsibilities regarding reporting or aren’t confident that what you’ve witnessed is abuse, your local domestic violence shelter or a domestic violence lawyer can guide you.

Domestic violence can happen anywhere, at any time, to anyone. Staying vigilant about abuse means that you can help victims quicker and recognize red flags in your own relationships. If you can’t afford representation, many community organizations can connect you with affordable or even free legal counsel. Don’t wait to get help. Domestic abuse is a plague on society; you are not alone, and you do not need to suffer in silence for one more day.  If you need legal assistance related to domestic abuse, please call Nielsen Law today.

October 1, 2020 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Posted in: Uncategorized