“If you or your close person is being abused, who would be your safe person to confide in?”
You and your children have the right to be safe. This means that you have the right to stop the violence. In addition, you have the right to live in peace, without domestic violence. This guide will help you get on the road to ending violence.
Is there anyone with whom to talk about what to do?
Yes. Perhaps you would like to talk to someone before you decide whether to stay or leave. You can talk to employees at a women’s center, employees in battered women programs, or counseling agencies. You can find a list of programs that address domestic violence online. You can find these programs on the home pages of your local phone book under the self help section. You can also call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) to help you find a service or program that can provide you with assistance geographically close to you.
What if I can’t leave my partner now?
Sometimes women who want to leave a partner are threatened. Some women are also financially dependent on partners, which makes it difficult for them to leave.
In this situation, first of all, you need to consider the real possibilities of what is possible and what is not, for your family specifically. Talking to a program officer can help you decide if you really want or don’t want to continue your relationship with your partner. This conversation can be useful to you even if you decide to stay with your partner. Partners who use violence often “play games” and make promises that do not fulfill. Often, these are empty promises. You know your particular situation best. Only you can decide what is best to do now.
Do you need to have a plan of action?
Yes. Domestic violence creates a situation in which you feel depressed and afraid of physical abuse. A personal safety plan will help you think about:
- what protection measures to apply if your partner begins to use physical violence;
- how to quickly leave, and where you can leave;
- if you live separately, how to protect yourself if your partner tries to find you;
- how to stay safe at work, school, public places
- how to go to court to be safe.
See Personal Safety Plan.
I think I need to leave the state with my children. Is it possible?
It is advisable to discuss your departure with a lawyer before leaving the state. The answer to this question is beyond the scope of this guide. Whether you can leave or not depends on the specific situation. Below are important factors influencing this decision:
- why you want to leave the state;
- whether your departure will improve the quality of life of your children;
- whether you will continue to be married to the father of your children or not;
- whether you are divorced or in a process leading to divorce;
- what is the relationship between the other parent and the children;
- are there any court orders regarding children;
- if the father of the children has applied for or is about to apply for guardianship;
- many other factors.
Women often need court permission to move to another state. The court may consider various factors in its decision, and whether or not the move is allowed. If you move to another state without the permission of the father or without the permission of the court, the father of the children can petition the court for guardianship and an order to return the children. To find out if you can get free legal aid, call your local legal services program.
Can I get a court order if I live with my partner?
Yes. Even if you are still living together, you can get a court order. If you are living together and do not want to disperse, a protective order will force your partner to not threaten you, not coerce you into actions that are against you, not abuse you, and/or not force you to have sex.
What do you need to know about treatment programs for people who commit domestic violence?
The criminal court can force your partner to undergo treatment under an identified abuser intervention program. The court may recommend or force your partner to take a program similar to alcohol or drug addiction recovery programs.
These are different programs. Google phone numbers and addresses of certified batterer intervention programs in your area.
If your partner enrolls in the program, program staff may contact you. You may disagree with what they advise. If your partner continues to be violent, it means that he has problems that he needs to change. If your partner continues to use violence, then this means that he has problems that he must eliminate.
What do you need to know about treatment programs?
There are many programs for women who have suffered from various forms of violence. These programs offer one-on-one counseling as well as support in self-help groups for affected women. You can get information about these programs by calling Safelink – 1-800-Safelink (723-3546).
If your partner is undergoing an identified abuser intervention program, the program may also have a female victim group in which you can participate. These groups are confidential and your participation in them is completely voluntary. However, you may not want to join a group attached to an identified abuser intervention program that your partner is undergoing.
If you have an open case with the Department of Children and Families (DCF), you may be required to participate in such a group. This may be a condition that you accept the service package.
I want to leave my partner, but the children want the family to survive. What should I do?
In this case, it is important to trust your own mind. You are an adult and you are responsible for making decisions that will affect the lives of your children.
Sometimes, after a woman has been a victim of partner violence for a long time, she may develop a condition in which she is unable to make decisions. In this case, she does not trust herself and begins to depend on her children, hoping that the children will make their own decisions.
You can make your own decisions. Trust yourself.
Who can you talk to about your children and their safety?
Talking to women survivors of domestic violence programs can help. The Jane Doe website has a list and map of Domestic Violence Programs. You can find these programs on the home pages of your local phone book under the self-help section. You can also call Safelink to help you find a service or program that can provide you with assistance geographically close to you.
If I think my child is being abused, what should I do?
If you think someone is raping your child, you need to take steps to suspend or limit contact between that person and the child. This can be done by limiting the visit to the other parent. You can also take your child to the doctor for a check-up and discuss all of these issues with the doctor.
You can file a Statement of Criminal Responsibility.
If you suspect a child is being abused, you can also call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-792-5200.
You can also call the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF is the full-time department of child welfare. DCF can initiate a search and report on a case, offer services, or go to court to obtain custody of the children.
Try to get help for your children if you cannot protect them yourself.
Perhaps you can get help from your friends, family, or employees of other agencies.