Domestic Violence

If you are a victim of domestic violence (emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or threat of such abuse), you may be feeling confused, frightened, sad, angry, or ashamed. You are not alone. Unfortunately, what happened to you is very common. Once it starts, domestic violence often does not go away without help. It also tends to get worse and more frequent over time.

There are people who can help you. If you want to start talking about this problem, need a safe place to stay, or want legal advice, contact our staff for a referral. Domestic violence is a crime and as a victim you have legal rights. If the police have not yet been involved, consider calling the police for help. You can also get a court order prohibiting your partner from contacting you in any way (including in person or by phone). Contact a local domestic violence program or an attorney for more information.

Before you leave here

Decide if it is safe to go back home. If you know your life is in danger, tell our staff. We can call a local domestic violence shelter or help you arrange to stay with a friend or relative. Domestic violence shelters can help with issues related to the safety of children and pets, housing, and finances.

When you get home

  • Make an exit plan or a safety plan in advance. Know exactly where you could go even in the middle of the night.

  • Pack an overnight bag in case you have to leave home in a hurry. Either hide it yourself or give it to a friend to keep for you. It should include:

    • Toilet articles, medicines, extra set of keys to the house and car, extra set of clothing, and a special toy for each child

    • Extra cash, checks, or savings account book

    • Important papers, such as social security cards, birth certificates, green cards, passports, work authorization and any other immigration documents, medical cards, driver's license, title to the car, proof of car insurance.

  • If you ever feel your safety is in danger, get out of the home, even if you did not have a chance to plan the above.

Calling the police

When someone has injured you or violated a restraining order, a criminal stay-away order, or an emergency protective order, then do the following:

  • Call the police. Use 911 if it is an emergency. Tell them you are in danger and you need help right away. Let them know if you have a court order. If the police do not come quickly, call again and say, "This is my second call." Take note of the time and date of your call(s) and who you spoke with.

  • When the police arrive, tell them only what the attacker did. Describe your injuries, how you were injured, if weapons were used, or if a restraining order was violated. Ask the police to file a report and give you a reporting number.

  • If you do not already have a restraining order, ask the officer for an emergency protective order. This is an order that may protect you until you get a criminal stay-away order or restraining order.

  • Always get the police officers' names and badge numbers. If you have trouble with a police officer, you can complain to the officer's supervisor.


If the attacker is arrested and taken to the police station, he will probably be released with or without bail until the hearing. This may take only a few hours. Use this time to get to a safe place. Ask that a condition of his release be that he should not come near you.

No arrest

  • If the police refuse to make an arrest, you may ask to make a private citizen's arrest . Tell the officers that you fear the attacker will return and injure you unless an arrest is made.

  • Call the District Attorney's office or the local police department about how to follow up with your complaint.

  • For more information, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233). Or visit their website at They will make certain you are in a safe situation before talking with you. Remember that your partner may monitor your computer use. It's impossible to completely clear the sites you access. If you think your computer is checked, use a secure phone and call the hotline instead of using the computer.

© 2000-2022 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
Powered by Krames Patient Education - A Product of StayWell