Reporting abuse is necessary and sometimes, frightening. Below are a few steps that will help you through the process.
Emergency Escape Bag
Purchase an inexpensive mobile phone and add all of the important numbers you might need. Pack any medications, I.D., and documents that show your ownership of the vehicle or other property. Make sure you obtain a secondary cash card for your bank and add money to it. Do not keep your bag at home. Instead, store the bag in a safe place where you can quickly retrieve it.
Form a Safety Plan
A safety plan is a detailed plan that will help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best way to react when you’re in danger. Safety plans should be unique to the victim. The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violencehas a PDF form that will help you develop a plan. After filling out the form, be sure to give a copy to a trusted friend or family member.
Document The Incident
Documenting everything about the abuse will not only help you obtain a restraining order (if ever needed), but it could also help you in court. Documenting the incident will consist of taking pictures of everything related to the abuse. This includes bruises, scratches, torn or blood-stained clothes, damaged rooms or other property. Write down when and where the incident occurred. Documenting the incident also consists of making copies of any threatening email, messages, or social media posts. If there have been any witnesses to the abuse, get statements from them.
Find A Safe Home
Prearrange a safe place to go, in case of an emergency. This could be the home of a friend or family. If you do not have that option, search for safe houses or shelters in your area. Contacting a domestic abuse hotline is a crucial step. This might be the first time to share your story. On the hotline, you will speak to advocates who can provide domestic abuse help through safety planning and crisis intervention. The hotline also provides a safe, confidential, and judgment-free space, along with an understanding, listening ear.
After calling emergency services, when the police arrive, don’t hesitate to give them the information they need. Not only will this help you stay safe, but it will also help you build a case to protect yourself. Get a copy of the incident report and your case number, as well as the officer’s name, badge, and numbers. This could be useful information in the near future.
Domestic violence can not only result in physical, mental, and emotional pain but could also result in death (by suicide or by the abuser). Abuse is a choice, but so is not taking any further action. Your safety should always be your priority.
National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
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