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Domestic violence is not always physical

A common misconception about domestic violence is that it involves one spouse hitting the other. However, this is only one example of domestic violence.

Generally, domestic violence is when a family or household member commits an act of abuse. This abuse could be physical, such as hitting, pushing, forced sex or not allowing a household member to leave. Abuse can also be harassment, stalking, threats of abuse, denying a disabled person access to care, forcing someone to do something he or she does not want to do or forcing someone to watch abuse occur.

Although domestic abuse often involves spouses, it can involve other household members as well. Household members can be spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, people who were dating, people who lived together, people who have a child together and personal assistants to those with disabilities.

Domestic violence is a cycle

Domestic violence involves one person trying to control another, and it typically occurs in a cycle. As the cycle repeats, violence usually becomes more frequent and more severe. Although the abuser may apologize, it typically does not mean the violence will not reoccur.

Those who are being abused often struggle with the decision to stay in the abusive relationship or leave. If you are facing a decision like this, it is important to recognize that both decisions can be dangerous. However, a decision to leave offers you the opportunity to stop being abused.

If you choose to leave, you have options to help make the process safer. Involving police or victim advocates are one way to make it safer. Also, an order of protection can help protect you during and after this transition.

Consider requesting an order of protection

An order of protection is a legal order that requires the abuser to do or not do certain actions. If this person violates the order, he or she can be arrested.

Among other things, an order of protection can require the abuser to:

  • Stop the abuse
  • Stay away from a shared residence
  • Stay away from you or others protected by the order
  • Attend counseling
  • Give you temporary physical possession or legal custody of a child
  • Give you specific personal property
  • Turn in weapons to law enforcement

No one deserves abuse in any of its forms. If you are being abused, it is important to know that you have options. Consider taking actions, such as calling law enforcement and seeking an order of protection, to make sure you and others affected by the abuse are protected from further harm.

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