Domestic violence can be physical as in hitting and assaulting, or it may be emotional as in always controlling, public humiliation, name-calling, criticizing, refusing to cooperate or being deceptive and manipulative. Here are a few steps that will help you stand up against the violence and prevent yourself and your family from further abuse and trauma.
Keep track of exit routes
Always keep in mind that you have the right to be safe in your own home. No one deserves to be hit or even threatened. If your spouse has hit you in the past and shows a tendency to do so, practice safety measures in advance. If you are in the middle of an argument, try moving to a place which has an exit. Avoid closed spaces without access to a door. Keep objects like knives, scissors and other sharp objects stacked away in places where the abusers cannot find them easily. Make a note of all exit routes that can lead you to safety. Identify stairwells, elevators, basement-exits and other routes that you can take while you make your way out of a potentially threatening situation.
Do not hesitate to ask for help
Get in touch with your friends and neighbors and make them known about your situation. Identify a few neighbors you get along well with and ask them to call the police immediately if they hear raging disturbances coming from your house. Pack a survival kit containing money, clothes, house and car keys, medications, passports, protection order and other important documents. Keep it hidden in your home or with a trusted friend, neighbor or a relative. Keep your cell phone with you at all times and make sure you have the contact details of your friends, family members and neighbors who can help you encounter an abusive situation at home.
Encourage your children to talk about their feelings
It is quite obvious that you would try to keep your children as far away from the violence as possible. As much as you hope that your children do not come to know what exactly is going on, the truth is that they will be aware of the violence being perpetrated. Whether your children witness the situation or themselves suffer the abuse, it is highly likely that they would suffer from negative psychological or behavioral effects. Be honest with your children and let them know that violence is wrong and that it does not solve any problems. Listen to them intently and encourage them to talk about their feelings. Inform your children’s school authorities or the day care center about who they should allow pick up your children at the end of the day’s session. Arrange for someone trustworthy to accompany your children when you cannot be around them.
Plan ahead before you leave your spouse
You may feel that you need to keep the family together in spite of the ongoing abuse in order to provide your children with a father but the truth is children feel more secured and protected with a single parent rather than in an hostile environment with both parents. The safest way to leave an abusive environment is to escape without the knowledge of the abuser. Plan for your future in advance. Open a bank account, take enough cash in order to make emergency calls, medicines, important documents and find a safe place where you and your children can stay. Keep copies of your documents with someone you trust.
Laws for protection of victims of domestic violence
If you and your children have been abused or threatened in the past, you should apply for a Protection Order. You can get hold of the application form from the district attorney. Keep the Protection Order with you at all times. Call the police immediately if your spouse violates the order. The Violence Against Women Act and the Family Violence Protection and Services Act are two new laws passed by the US Congress for protection of women evicted from their homes owing to violence and providing legal aid to the victims of abuse. If you face immediate danger, call 911 or the National Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).