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Steps to avoidLove Should Not Hurt
By Bijal Pandya, Esq.
Domestic violence can include acts of abuse between spouses, between individuals living together, or between dating couples, and can be committed by either sex. Some examples:
- Physical violence, such as slapping, punching, shoving, and throwing things at another person;
- Coerced sexual acts;
- Jokes/insults aimed at a person's sexuality;
- Threats of abuse to the other party, children, or immediate family members ("Tell anyone anything and I'll take the children away.")
- Psychological abuse, such as insults intended to demean, debilitate or destroy a person's self-confidence ("You are so repulsive, even you should know I'd be better off alone.")
If you are in a dangerous or abusive relationship, you should consider taking the following steps:
- Leaving the marital/shared residence. Call a nearby local shelter or domestic violence hotline for immediate protection (the local yellow pages should have the phone numbers). Pack clothing for yourself and any children or try to pack in advance and leave everything with a trusted friend or relative. Be sure to keep extra car/house keys, cash, and important documents (such as immigration papers) with you at all times.
- Calling the police. They will arrest the abuser if there is "probable cause" to believe a crime has been, or is being, committed (for example, if the abuser is screaming or out of control, or if you or your children have been injured), and they can offer immediate protection. File a report with a police officer and be sure to write down the report number and the officer's name and badge number for future reference. If you have been physically injured, take pictures -- which a lawyer can use as proof against the abuser in court.
- Getting medical care, if necessary. Go to the emergency room of a nearby hospital. Even if you do not have insurance, an emergency room must give you assistance if you have been injured or sexually abused. If your abuser has forced you to have sex or to perform sexual acts, you can charge that person with rape and have him or her arrested.
If you are in an abusive relationship, you can contact the following organizations for immediate help: the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence at (303) 839-1852, and the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Bijal Jani Pandya, Esq. is an attorney in New York specializing in real estate, immigration, and family law matters. She can be reached at (845) 735-0247 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. This article is being published for information purposes only - for specific legal advice you should contact an attorney.
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