If you are a victim of domestic violence, you are entitled to certain rights and information. This document is meant to supply you with a number of referrals that may be of use. It also lists legal sources, restraining order information, and health care facilities. But most importantly, this document lists your rights as a victim of a violent crime.
As many as four million women in this country suffer some kind of violence at the hands of their husbands or boyfriends each year. Very few will tell anyone - a friend, a relative, a neighbor, or the police. Victims of domestic violence come from all walks of life, all cultures, all income groups, all ages, all religions. They share feelings of helplessness, isolation, guilt, fear, and shame.
If You Are Hurt, What Can You Do?
There are no easy answers, but there are things you can do to protect yourself.
- Call the police or sheriff. Assault, even by family members, is a crime. The police often have information about shelters and other agencies that help victims of domestic violence.
- Leave, or have someone come and stay with you. Go to a battered women's shelter - call a crisis hotline in your community or a health center to locate a shelter. If you believe that you, and your children, are in danger - leave immediately.
- Get medical attention from your doctor or a hospital emergency room. Ask the staff to photograph your injuries and keep detailed records in case you decide to take legal action.
- Contact your family court for information about a civil protection order that does not involve criminal charges or penalties.
Local Advice for Domestic Violence Victims
- Find a safe place and seek assistance by calling the police or dialing 911. Although a person alleged to have committed domestic violence may have been taken into custody, that person may be released after appearing before a judge, or after 20 hours in jail and posting a bond, whichever occurs first.
- Your report of domestic violence will be investigated to its fullest extent and an investigator or caseworker will be assigned to maintain contact with you throughout the investigation. If you have been the victim of an assault or other related conduct, you may request the Police Department to file a criminal complaint. Call 911 to have an officer contact you.
- As a victim of domestic violence, you can call the Center for Women in Transition at 810-392-2829 (evenings and weekends call 810-392-4357 for further assistance).
- You can call a 24-hour, National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-SAFE (7233) for information about shelter and alternatives.
- Many victims of domestic violence don't know where to turn for help. Some feel trapped in their situations because they feel dependent on their husband for financial support and sometimes emotional support.