Domestic Violence Victim Resources
Domestic violence is an unfortunate part of people's lives. Victims of domestic violence need immediate legal help and social services. They may also need financial help, help with child custody matters, and other legal issues. All this at a time when they are emotionally vulnerable and need advocacy and support.
This article provides information on national and state domestic violence resources. It contains links to government and nonprofit agencies, hotlines, and legal advocacy groups offering help to victims of domestic abuse.
Domestic Violence: The Problem
Intimate partner abuse is more widespread than people realize. According to statistics assembled by the National Network to End Domestic Violence and other advocacy groups, one in four women and one in nine men have experienced severe intimate partner abuse. One in three women and one in four men have suffered intimate partner violence, such as pushing, shoving, or slapping.
Domestic violence affects everyone. Victims of domestic violence lose 8 million days of paid work every year, costing businesses more than $8 billion each year. Their co-workers become victims of crime as well. Between 2003 and 2008, abusers killed 142 of their intimate partners at their workplaces. Co-workers became collateral damage in these rampages.
First Steps in a Crisis
If you are in immediate danger, leave your home and call 911. You should only use the following information after reaching a safe place. This information is not intended to replace the services of police, fire, EMS, or other first responders in an emergency.
Making a call for help is frightening for survivors of domestic violence. An excellent first step is calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or TTY at 1-800-787-3224. This is a 24-hour hotline with state and national referrals for legal resources, service providers, and immediate help in your area.
Your next step is safety planning. Abusers get away with their abuse because their victims often have nowhere safe to go. The national or local hotline can put you in touch with a domestic violence shelter or other location where you can consider the next steps.
Legal services are expensive. You should contact the family court in your area for a referral to legal aid and low-income services if necessary. The court system has divisions for domestic violence cases and can tell you the best way to proceed. Family law attorneys are a good resource for domestic violence victims.
You may be reluctant to call the police. Sometimes domestic violence victims are scared to contact law enforcement. Still, it can be a good source of help and inform victims on how to get a protective/restraining order or where to go for help locally. Many police departments now use lethality screening tools to help determine the threat level at the time of the incident. This helps police help the victim and gather information for any potential criminal charges.
If necessary, 9-1-1 or law enforcement can help you find a shelter and contact other domestic violence help providers.
State-Specific Domestic Violence Information
Every state has an agency and a court dealing with domestic violence victims. Follow the link on this page for domestic violence information by state to see what information your state provides.
Domestic Violence State Forms provides links to the forms you need to petition for a protective order or restraining order. Complete the form, give it to your lawyer, or file it with the court.
Domestic Violence Organizations and Hotlines
Domestic violence organizations empower victims when they are most vulnerable. The Organizations and Hotlines page provides links to organizations serving abuse victims who want targeted resources, including:
- African American people
- Latino or Latina people
- Indigenous peoples
- Asian American people
- LGBTQ+ people
- Young people
- Elderly people
- People with disabilities
These helplines can help in Spanish, Mandarin/Cantonese, Russian, and other languages. They also give referrals to other resource centers where necessary.
Domestic violence organizations also help with other family law-related matters, such as:
- Sexual assault, harassment, and stalking
- Child custody, child support, and divorce
- LGBTQ+ and transgender legal information
- Immigration and sexual trafficking
Frequently Asked Questions About Domestic Violence
FindLaw's Frequently Asked Questions page answers many questions about domestic violence, reporting, and obtaining legal advice. Learn what domestic violence is, where to get help, how to file a court case, and other information.
Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?
- Victims of domestic violence can press charges against their abuser
- The ability or requirements to press charges varies in each state
- Contacting a family law attorney or advocacy groups for advice is essential
Some attorneys represent victims of domestic violence. Others defend the rights of those accused of domestic abuse or other related crimes. Many attorneys offer free consultations.