Domestic violence is an unfortunately common problem in the United States. Even more, the increased alcohol and drug use around the holidays sometimes make domestic violence more prevalent. They are also times when victims may spend more time with potential abusers as well.
Victims of domestic violence can stay safer by using the following tips and information.
1. Ensure you know the right numbers to call for help. With the use of cell phones today, many people do not have friends’ and families’ phone numbers memorized. It is important that you commit certain numbers to memory so you have them in emergency situations. Always call the police in your local jurisdiction or where the violence occurred first.
You should also memorize emergency numbers for local helplines as well. For example, it is a good idea to know the local police number. The emergency hotline for domestic violence in Florida is 1-800-500-1119.
2. Develop a safe word or phrase. Victims of domestic violence may not be able to communicate freely when they ask for help from friends and loved ones. Develop a code word or phrase that indicates you need help, whether that indicates that you should be picked up right away or to call the police. Keep the expression short and straightforward, but not so unusual that it would be detected by the abuser.
3. Avoid private interactions. If possible, avoid being alone with the abuser. Having family and friends nearby often minimizes violent episodes. However, even if it does not, you will hopefully have someone close to step in on your behalf. If nothing else, you will have witnesses who can vouch for you to the authorities.
4. Keep cash and your phone on you at all times. In many abusive situations, it can be difficult to determine when an “episode” may erupt. If you have your phone and some cash on you, you can call for help easier. If you need to call a cab or get on public transportation, you will have that option if you keep some funds on your person.
5. Diffuse the situation. Walking away from a situation that has the potential to escalate can be extremely helpful in some circumstances. You can also coordinate with a friend or family member to offer the abuser a distraction, such as food, a sporting activity, or drinks. Refocusing your abuser can cut tensions and avoid conflict, or at least delay it.
6. Always have an escape plan. You should know all of your exits in any location in case you need to get away quickly. If you are going to someone else’s home, examine your surroundings to determine the fastest way you can leave. If your abuser may be distracted by sleep or alcohol, it may be a good time to get out with your children or pets.
7. File a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence. If you have been previously threatened, harassed, stalked or physically abused; or you or your family members or people closely associated with you were victims of violence, it’s time to take action by filing a Petition for Injunction. If someone has threatened to conceal, kidnap or harm your children, or placed you in fear of violence by intentionally injuring or killing a family pet, a Petition for Injunction should be filed. If someone has threatened to use or used weapons against you or physically restrained you from leaving the home or calling law enforcement and you fear becoming a victim of domestic violence, it’s time to file a Petition for Injunction for Protection Against Domestic Violence.
The holidays can be a challenge for everyone, but they are particularly trying for those dealing with abuse. You do not have to do this alone! Resolve to get help. If you are a victim of domestic violence or have a reasonable fear of being in imminent danger of domestic violence, call McKINNON LEGAL to discuss your legal options.