Domestic Violence:
Where to Seek Help

By Toby D. Goldsmith, M.D., and Maria Vera, Ph.D.
22 Nov 2000

If you think you are in an abusive relationship, you can go to a number of people for help. Be careful, however, to keep your search a secret from your abuser. If your abuser learns that you are reaching out, he may try to stop you, be angered and abuse you even more.

People who can help you include:

  • Family and friends

  • Medical and mental health professionals -- First, they can treat the physical and emotional injuries you have already suffered. They also can recommend programs specially designed to help victims of domestic violence. Counselors can help to heal your emotional wounds.

  • Police -- If you are in immediate danger and need emergency help, call 911. The police can arrest your abuser, help you get a restraining order, take you a battered women's shelter or take you for emergency medical care. Courts can issue a restraining or protective order to keep your abuser away from where you live and work. The order becomes effective as soon as it is issued. It can be extended or made permanent if necessary.
People who violate restraining orders are in contempt of court and may be arrested and taken to jail. The violation of a restraining order usually results in a criminal charge and the violator may serve time in jail.
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 29 Mar 2015
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