Victims of domestic violence can often feel trapped in the situation because of the presence of children, a lack of resources, or simply fear of more severe abuse if the victim tries to leave.
There are, of course, many self-help resources for victims of domestic violence, such as the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which recently announced it has partnered with the NFL to promote and fund its domestic violence hotline and other programs. Victims of domestic violence can, and should, also call the police if they are subject to physical violence or threats of violence.
In addition, victims of domestic violence may consider retaining a domestic violence attorney. So what can a domestic violence attorney do that might be otherwise difficult for you to do on your own? Here are five ways a domestic violence attorney can help:
Get a protection/restraining order in place. Victims of domestic violence can seek a protective order (also called restraining order in some states) which may prohibit the abuser from making contact, coming within a certain distance of the victim, or possessing firearms. In certain instances, a protective order can also require that the abuser move out of a home shared with the victim.
File a domestic violence lawsuit. A domestic violence lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that allows a victim of domestic violence to recover for any medical expenses or financial loss, or pain and suffering caused by the domestic violence.
File for divorce. If the perpetrator is a spouse, a domestic violence attorney can assist you through the divorce process, including your right to spousal support and receiving your share of marital property.
Work to get you custody of your kids. If the abuser is also a parent of your children, a domestic violence attorney can help you get custody of your child as well as child support from the other parent.
Represent you in court and deal with the other (abusive) party. A domestic violence attorney will be your advocate in court, obtain and complete the required documents, and deal with the opposing side throughout the legal process.
Dealing with domestic violence can be challenging, both emotionally and legally. To learn more about domestic violence laws and resources, head over to FindLaw's Domestic Violence section or click on the first link below to find an experienced domestic violence attorney in your area.