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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

Domestic violence crosses all racial and socio-economic boundaries, and it is something that can happen to absolutely anyone. It’s prevalent in all areas of the country, and it continues to be a hidden problem that people just don’t discuss, even though it is an issue that is simply getting worse with time. October was Domestic Violence Awareness month, and there are some lessons that I think we should all have taken from this special time that has shone a spotlight on a serious issue that has no single cure.

Short-Term Help is Available

Victims of domestic violence cannot just look at the long-term implications of leaving their abuser. They also need to look at the short-term challenges of feeding any children they have, finding shelter, and breaking the cycle. It’s not easy to take those steps, but help is available. Shelters and emergency residential programs are available, as well as transportation networks, medical services, and emotional support. Sometimes, the best thing victims can do is take their first opportunity to get out of the situation and then start working on the long-term challenges.

Yes, leaving your home and all of your possessions can be difficult, and it more than likely will cause plenty of heartache and other problems for years to come, but it often times the best way to protect yourself and your family. With the wide range of different support networks that have been established for those suffering from domestic violence, there is always a place that you can go in order to get the safety and support that you need.

Restraining Orders Provide Some Measure of Safety

When a woman first leaves her abuser, she is at risk for retribution from that individual. The courts can put restraining orders in place, and these orders are more than just “pieces of paper.” Without a TRO, or temporary restraining order, the police cannot prevent the abuser from visiting victims at their workplace or new residence. With that order, however, police can take action when necessary, up to and including detaining the individual for violating the TRO. This is an extremely powerful legal action that you need to get immediately after leaving any sort of abuser, since not only will this person not be able to come to your place of work or residence, but they will need to keep a certain distance away from you. Law enforcement take these measures extremely serious and they will detain the individual if they are caught near you.

Self-Defense is Allowed

Most areas allow people to defend themselves when attacked. When a victim breaks the silence and the cycle by getting out, they should take steps to protect themselves. These include taking self-defense classes or carrying pepper spray. Victims sometimes worry that they’ll face charges if they fight back, but North County criminal defense professionals, such as those at BradleyCorbettLaw.com, want victims to know that this is not the case. When a person is being attacked and believes that their life is in danger, they do have the right to defend themselves.

You might also want to consider investing in a firearm. This is a truly serious measure and you should only do it if you think you and your family’s lives are in danger. If you do choose to use a firearm, make sure that you choose a gun that is comfortable for you, and that you take classes that will teach you how to properly defend yourself. But, if you don’t think that you will be able to pull the trigger when you are physically threatened, DO NOT buy a firearm, since you might not be able to stop the attacker when you are threatened. Choose instead a non-lethal form of protection that you will have confidence using.

Long-Term Changes

Breaking the cycle of silence is only the first step. Victims need a way to support themselves and their family in the long run, and they’re going to need emotional support to overcome the hidden scars. Job training, housing accommodation, child care assistance, and access to community services can all provide victims with the support they need to make meaningful long-term changes and move into a fully independent, healthy life. You might also want to consider starting over somewhere else, preferably in an area where there are family and loved ones that will be able to provide constant support. While you will be able to provide for your family’s physical needs just about anywhere, you will need strong and loving friends in order to conquer the emotional issues that you are sure to face.

Be Wary of the Mask

There is no standard profile for abusers, and they can often times be hard to recognize. In fact, some of the most vicious people behind closed doors are charming and courteous to people outside of the household. If a person suspects abuse, they should not let the charming mask sway them from reaching out to help the victim in any way possible. This can be a touchy subject, so you should make sure that you approach it with kindness and understanding. It is very possible that the abused person will not admit to the abuse, mostly due to fear or embarrassment. If this is the case, or if you fear retaliation from the abuser, simply provide a constant source of strength and support, and the person will more than likely come to you for help when they most need it.

Domestic violence is something that is still largely whispered about, and that makes it harder for women to break the cycle and escape a dangerous situation. Help is available, but victims don’t always know where to find it. Short-term assistance and long-term support can help victims reclaim their lives and finally break the cycle.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents wanting to be wise about domestic violence.