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Abusive relationships affect far too many individuals in this country, but there are ways that the law can help.
Speaking with the New York Daily News, Katie Ray-Jones, president of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, noted that it's often "difficult for victims [of abuse] to move forward." It's not a small problem, as family, financial, and legal ties commonly bind victims to their abusers.
To help victims of abuse move on, here are five legal tips to consider:
When an abuser is charged with domestic violence or assault, it is common for his or her victims to be granted an immediate protective order. These orders legally require a suspect to not contact or come within a certain distance of the victim, and the order may require the alleged abuser to surrender all firearms. These orders typically only last until the criminal matter is resolved, but victims can also apply for a more permanent restraining order. Victims do not have to wait until their abusers are arrested to seek a restraining order.
Your restraining order may prohibit all contact between you and your abuser, even electronic communication. But realize that what you post on Facebook or Twitter is essentially public -- even for teens. Your abuser may not be violating any laws by following what you do on social media, and it is your option to put that information out there.
Ray-Jones tells the Daily News that abused women typically ask, "How do I get him to stop hitting me?" Even if the person who is threatening or hurting you is a loved one, do not be afraid to seek law enforcement help. Experts say the consequences of silent assent to abuse are typically far worse.
Abusive and inappropriate relationships can occur in the workplace just as easily as at home. Even if your office has a well structured anti-harassment policy, nothing will change unless victims report harassment or abuse at work to human resources.
Support structures are essential to escaping and enduring the aftereffects of abusive relationships, and you can start building yours by contacting the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233. You can also contact a divorce or personal injury attorney to give you the support you need to pursue (if necessary) legal action; many offer free and confidential consultations.
Victims are not powerless in abusive relationships; the law can help.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.