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What To Do In Cases of Domestic Violence

Regardless of your views on family structure and divorce, when it comes to domestic violence, getting out should be the only decision. Sadly, many people become victims of domestic violence each year, and countless instances are hushed up out of fear.  It is often times harder for someone to make the decision to leave than to actually leave and begin the divorce process. But once your mind has been made up, there should be no looking back.

Domestic violence is about fear, control, and the abuse of false power. If and when you decide to leave an abusive spouse, this could make the abuser lose even more control.. In other words, exercise caution when preparing an exit strategy.

Preparing to Leave

When you make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, you must be prepared for the subsequent fall out and repercussions. You are making the right choice for yourself, potential children involved, and your future. Here are some tips to take inconsideration before planning your escape; some tips are obvious, and some may not be:

  1. If you feel your safety is at risk, get a civil or criminal restraining order and have it in place before you leave.
  2. Have somewhere to go. Research local domestic violent safe havens and shelters.  Ask a friend if you can stay with her/him, or, if you can afford it, rent an apartment but keep your address from your spouse.

It is also important to remember to take important documents with you. Birth certificates, driver’s license, social security card, health insurance cards, credit cards, and all cards that are in your name. Also, if you can, take any property deeds or bank statements. It is also important to take any restraining or court orders you already have against your spouse with you. This may seem drastic, but only you know how your relationship has been and what you situation is.

Domestic Violence Statistics

The most unnerving thing about incidents of domestic violence are the thousands of cases that go unreported. Women, men, and children are all at risk of the residual effects that can go with an abusive relationship. Thousands of serious cases are reported each year, but even more go unreported. Here are some eye-opening stats about domestic violence in the U.S.:

  1. Every day in the U.S., more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends
  2. The costs of intimate partner violence in the U.S. alone exceed $5.8 billion per year. $4.1 billion are for direct medical and health care services, while productivity losses account for nearly $1.8 billion.
  3. Nearly 1 in 5 teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup.
  4. Studies suggest that up to 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.

Divorce in general is never optimal, but it is a necessity when it comes to abusive relationships. The severity and exposure to abuse can occur on such a wide range, form outright psychical abuse to passive aggressive, emotional abuse. No one deserves to or should live in an abusive  situation. Understandably, these situations are extremely complex, but knowing how to be prepared and what to do will help you when the time comes to make the decision to leave.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, don’t stay quiet, help them attain the freedom they deserve. But help can come in many different ways. For advice on how best to help, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

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