For victims of domestic violence, a trial can be a daunting experience, causing fresh memories of abuse to rush back and cause emotional trauma to the victim all over again.
To ease the painful and emotionally exhausting process of coming face-to-face with your abuser, here are five domestic violence trial tips you should keep in mind:
- Emotionally prepare yourself. If you will be testifying at your trial, your domestic violence attorney will prepare you to testify about personal and financial matters, according to the American Journal of Family Law. Keep your attorney informed about any fears or safety concerns you may have.
- Keep your distance. Just because you're in the same room as your abuser does not mean you need to interact with him or her. Find a seat as far away from your abuser as you can. Don't feel obligated to look at, talk to, or generally engage with your abuser. The same goes for any of your abuser's family or friends who are present at the trial.
- Use the buddy system. If you have a friend or relative who can accompany you to the trial, try to bring him or her along. It's always good to have someone with you for your safety and peace of mind. If you don't have anyone to join you, express any safety concerns to a bailiff or sheriff.
- Report a restraining order violation -- even if it happens in court. If you have a restraining order in place and your abuser tries to sit near you or harass you, immediately report the violation to a court officer or call the police.
- Prepare an exit strategy. At the end of the hearing, ask the judge, court officer or bailiff to detain the abuser until you can leave. Leave quickly. If you feel unsafe, request an escort from the courthouse.
After the hearing concludes, if you think the abuser is following you when you leave, do not hesitate to call for help. Err on the side of caution. If something feels "off" call the police immediately.
- Domestic Violence Victim Resources (FindLaw)
- State Domestic Violence Laws (FindLaw)
- How Do Domestic Violence Laws Protect Children? (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Domestic Violence: Getting a 'Permanent' Restraining Order (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)