4 Myths that Keep Domestic Violence Victims from Recovery
According to statistics from the National Network to End Domestic Violence and the Erie County Sheriff’s office, one in four U.S. women will experience domestic violence within her lifetime. In this country, a woman is abused an average of once every 9 seconds. And a staggering 40 percent of girls aged 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who’s suffered physical abuse at the hands of a boyfriend.
Despite being so widespread, experts estimate that domestic abuse is an epidemically underreported crime, second only to rape. Some victims of domestic abuse are too afraid to take the necessary steps to help themselves out of fear of reprisals from their partner. Often, victims don’t know if the violence they experience qualifies as domestic abuse, if they have legal protections or other resources, or where to turn to find safety.
As a rule, if you feel like what you’re experiencing might be domestic abuse, it probably is domestic abuse. There are many resources available to victims in New York State. An experienced domestic violence attorney can help you find your way to safety, and ensure you get full legal protection for yourself and your family in the long term.
Know the myths, know your rights, and protect yourself with these resources
My partner threatens me, but only physical violence counts as domestic abuse.
According to New York State law, domestic abuse doesn’t have to be physical. The State of New York defines domestic violence as a pattern of coercive tactics perpetrated by one person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control over the victim. While any sort of physical violence qualifies, harassment, intimidation, terroristic threats, unlawful imprisonment, unwelcome sexual contact, stalking, tracking, control of phones or other forms of communication, and economic coercion all qualify as domestic abuse.
If you have any doubt at all as to whether what you’re experiencing is domestic abuse, call a domestic abuse hotline or a family law attorney today.
I live with my abuser, and there’s nowhere else for me to go.
If you live with your abuser, you might feel trapped, fearing homelessness, or not wanting to uproot your children. First, if you do have children, you need to get them away from the source of abuse. Even if they are not directly victims, witnessing abuse can be extremely damaging to a child’s development and emotional wellbeing. If you think your children haven’t noticed, think again – they are extraordinarily perceptive and probably know that something is wrong. Even if you have no children, you need to get away from the abuser now.
While you could stay with friends or family, you might still fear that your abuser can reach you there, and even harm the people who’ve taken you in. You have other options, too. In Buffalo, NY there are eight domestic abuse shelters and programs, three hotlines, and three emergency shelters. There are an additional 19 shelters and programs for victims in the surrounding Western New York area. You can find a list, with phone numbers and links to websites, here.
However, you shouldn’t have to leave your home. You can contact the police to remove the abuser right away, and/or contact your attorney to secure a court order of protection to keep the abuser from coming back, or coming anywhere near you.
I don’t want to call the police on my partner, so there’s nothing I can do.
You’re not going to feel the same way about a domestic abuser as you would about a street mugger. The abuser is someone you know, live with, and maybe even still love. It’s understandable that you’d be hesitant to involve the police.
If you’re in danger, the police are your best option. They will be the fastest responders and can come to your residence to separate you and your abuser and restrain and even arrest your abuser if necessary. However, you do have other resources. In Western New York, Haven House of Child & Family Services operates a 24-hour domestic violence hotline. Just call 716-884-6000. Operators there can coach you through your immediate situation; contact police if need be; provide counseling, education, and support groups; and even offer shelter. The Family Justice Center also offers support services.
If you’re concerned about long-term protection for you and your family, you should contact an experienced family law attorney, who can go to court to request a temporary or permanent order of protection. This will order the abuser to stay away from you, your home, your workplace, and anywhere else you frequent. Violation is a very serious offense and could land the abuser in jail.
Domestic abuse can’t happen to men.
While statistics suggest 85-95 percent of domestic abuse victims are women, this still means than tens of thousands of men in the U.S. are victims of domestic violence each year. The law recognizes exactly the same forms of domestic abuse against men as against women.
Compassionate representation for all domestic abuse cases
Abuse in any form can leave both physical and emotional scars and have long-term consequences. Without aggressive legal representation, abusive parties can remain in your home, obtain custody of the children, and continue to wreak havoc on your lives.
If you or someone you love is a victim of abuse, contact Rebecca Talmud at the law office of John M. Dudziak, P.C. for a free confidential domestic violence consultation. One call could be all you need to get yourself or your loved ones to long-term safety.