Domestic violence victims often have trouble leaving abusive relationships, despite the threat and reality of physical or emotional harm. Whether due to financial, psychological, or even physical factors, many victims don't feel like they have the option to get away or get help.
But there are resources out there for those in need. From the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to the Hotline, victims can get help in exiting a physically or emotionally violent relationship. And here are some legal resources for escaping domestic violence.
Identifying an abusive relationship is the first step to escaping it. Many victims don't recognize that they are being abused, or that an abusive relationship is not normal or acceptable. Others may not think they are entitled to legal protection because they aren't a spouse or child of the abuser. Knowing what domestic violence is under the law, and which laws can protect victims of domestic abuse is essential to escape.
Merely exiting the home is not always an option, nor is it always the only option for domestic violence victims. In some cases, a threat of physical or emotional harm must be dealt with more immediately. Learn about your options when calling the police, seeking protection and restraining orders, and filing for divorce and child custody and support.
Domestic violence resources can vary from state to state. Make sure you know which options are available where you live and how to contact them. If law enforcement or the courts are unhelpful, or if you need assistance before turning to governmental agencies, many nongovernmental organizations and family organizations may be able to help.
While it is far easier said than done, victims of domestic violence should seek help immediately. If you or someone you know is being abused, report it to someone you trust.