Understanding Domestic Abuse
Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, can be defined as a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person. This includes any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can happen to anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion, or gender. It can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.
How to leave an abusive relationship safely and legally protect yourself.
If you have time to plan, start putting aside cash—again, preferably somewhere other than your house. Leave some clothes and important items with a friend in case you have to leave your house quickly. And start documenting every incident of physical or emotional abuse in your household, whether it involves you or your kids. Make a note of the date and time the incident occurred, and exactly what happened.
In addition, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) advises that you:
- make a list of safe people to contact
- memorize phone numbers of people or places you could call for help
- keep change (for a payphone, as you may find yourself without a cell phone) with you at all times, as well as cash for living expenses, and
- establish a code word with family, friends, and coworkers so that you can tell them to call for help without alerting the abuser.
You should also prepare to take important papers with you. Having the right documents will help you take legal action or apply for benefits after you leave. Again, the NCADV offers good advice, suggesting that you take:
- your credit cards and checkbook
- social security cards
- birth certificates
- copies of deeds, leases, and insurance policies
- utility bills (for proof of residence)
- proof of income for you and the abusive spouse or partner, such as pay stubs or copies of W-2 forms
- copies of bank or credit card statements if you cannot easily access them online, and
- any documentation that proves past abuse, including photographs, police reports, or medical records.
On the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, you can use their “Interactive Guide to Safety Planning” to create a safety plan or read through the information to identity your safety options.
In any type of abusive situation please call the police when in immediate danger. You can also visit thehotline.org
Seek legal help after you are safe. Seeking a restraining order and ensuring the strongest legal representation is important in cases like these, call The Law office of Soheila Azizi for more information.