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Domestic Abuse - What To Do When Violence Happens

Call Law Enforcement

If you are a victim of domestic abuse and have been physically injured by anyone, you can call the police if you live in a city or the sheriff if you live outside the city limits.

In many states, a report of domestic abuse results in a "mandatory arrest", which means that a law enforcement officer must arrest the accused abuser in a domestic violence situation if the officer believes that a crime has been committed. Physically injuring or threatening to injure a person is a crime.

Skip down to Hotline Numbers and Resources

In other states, law enforcement officers are authorized by law to do whatever is reasonable to protect the victim from harm. The police can arrest the abuser if they have good reason to believe that the abuser has hurt you. They have an obligation to arrest the abuser if they reasonably believe the abuser has violated a court order by hurting you or coming to your house.

If the injury is committed by a family member, someone you live with or used to live with or a person with whom you share a child in common, it may be a crime of domestic battery. If your abuser has violated a protective order prohibiting the abuser from having contact with you, that, too, is a crime.

Show law enforcement officers any evidence of physical violence and any protective order which prohibits the abuser from contacting you. If you want to leave your home, law enforcement will generally stay with you while you pack your belongings. They may also transport you to a hospital or a safe place.

Write down the officers' names and keep them advised if you are not going to remain in your home. Law enforcement will write up a report and forward it to the county or district attorney who will then decide whether to file criminal charges against your abuser.

You cannot force a county or district attorney to file charges. If charges are filed, the county or district attorney will contact you to get more information and discuss the possibility of your testifying at a court proceeding.

  • Leave Your Home
  • You can leave your home and stay with friends or family. You can also stay at a shelter that provides services for victims of domestic abuse. Most domestic violence agencies have 24 hour crisis lines. There is a list of numbers and shelters in the resource links below. Take your children with you as well as any of the documents listed on page 2.

  • Seek Medical Treatment
  • If your injuries are such that you can't wait to see your regular doctor, go to the emergency room of your local hospital and get treatment.

  • Seek Counseling
  • Contact the nearest domestic abuse agency. (See resource list below) Most agencies provide free confidential counseling services and can help you decide what to do next.

Domestic Violence Resources

If you're a victim of abuse or violence at the hands of someone you know or love, or you are recovering from an assault by a stranger, you are not alone.

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