|Safety for you and your children should be your first concern.
A safety plan can help you-whether you stay or leave.
Make a safety plan. Remember, you know alot about keeping yourself safe. Use it.
Talk to family, friends or a shelter and decide where you can go if you must leave.
Remember, leaving a batterer can be a very dangerous and violent time.
Keep copies of important papers and extra clothes with a friend.
Be sure children know what to do if they aren't with you.
Have a code word with neighbors and friends in case you need the police.
Take your children when leaving if you can do so without risking their safety.
If you cannot avoid an arguement, try to be in a room with an exit.
Identification for you and your children.
Money, bank book, check book, credit cards and ATM cards.
Orders of Protection, custody and divorce papers, prior criminal history documents.
Medications, keys, jewelry, pictures of you/children/batterer.
Children's clothing/small toys/diapers.
Children learn from imitating what they see. If you are in an abusive relationship, get help for you and your children.
Children who witness domestic violence may:
Feel guilty because they couldn't help.
Blame themselves for the abuse.
Feel bad for caring about the abuser.
Swear at or hit others.
Feel sick alot.
Withdraw from people and/or activities.
Run away from home.
May have sudden or increased problems in school.
Helping your children
Children should know that they don't have to be hurt and there is help available if someone is hurting them.
Children should learn that hitting is wrong.
Children should learn to take time out when they are angry.
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Domestic Violence is a Crime
If you and your children are being abused, call the police.
The police will come if you call them.
Ask to speak to the police alone. Tell the police if the abuser has a criminal history and/or if you have an order of protection.
Ask the police to investigate the scene for evidence, like damaged property.
Ask the police to talk to any witnesses.
Ask the police to take pictures of any bruises or marks and of the scene.
The police also will fill out an incident report. This includes a statement from you. Make sure to read your statement before signing it. If you are not comfortable with the written statement, calmly discuss any changes you believe necessary.
Sometimes the police have to arrest your abuser. Other times you can ask them to arrest your abuser. You can also go to the police station and make a complaint yourself.
The police should give you:
Information on a temporary shelter.
Help in getting personal property.
Help getting medical treatment.
A copy of the police report.
Information about getting an order of protection.
Going to Court
There aretwo courtsfor victims of domestic violence -
Your abuser will be taken to criminal court if an arrest has been made. You can call the courthouse or the District Attorney's office for information about your case. The District Attorney can take your abuser to criminal court with or without your involvement.
Matters to Consider:
- The judge could put your abuser in jail or on probation and order counseling.
- You don't have to pay for a lawyer.
- You need more proof for a conviction.
You can file a petition against your abuser in family court if you and the abuser are married, are divorced, are related by blood, or have a child in common but aren't married. The District Attorney's office cannot help you in family court.
Matters to Consider:
- It's easier to get an order of protection.
- You don't need as much evidence - your word may be enough.
- You are responsible for dealing with the legal system unless you hire or are assigned an attorney.
- A family court judge can expedite your case.
You can go to criminal court and family court at the same time.
Orders of Protection
An Order of Protection is a court order/document directing a person to refrain from having contact with you.
A temporary order can be issued by either criminal or family court.
You should go to the court clerk and request an order. A judge may be able to make a decision within a few hours if it is an emergency.
The judge decides whether or not to give you an order of protection.
A permanent order of protection can be issued at criminal sentencing. Permanent orders last between one and five years. You can ask for a permanent order of protection through the District Attorney's office.
An order of protection from criminal court can tell the abuser to do things like stay away from you, your children, your home and your workplace.
An order of Protection from family court can do the same thing as one from criminal court.
You have some responsibilities if you have an
Order of Protection:
-Always keep the order with you.
- If your children are in it, give copies to them, their school, and babysitters.
- Always follow the order.
- Orders of Protection expire, so check them. It may be extended.
- Once you have an order of protection, only a judge can change it.