If you or someone you love is experiencing domestic violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or the Ohio Domestic Violence Network at (800) 934-9840 for confidential support. You can also call the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at (800) 422-4453. You are not alone.
Recognizing Domestic Violence
If you have experienced domestic violence in your home or you are concerned that your child has been abused, it is critical that you take action to protect your child. Witnessing domestic violence can be especially traumatic for children, but it may be difficult to recognize the signs of that trauma. Trauma in children often manifests in indirect ways, including:
- Shifts in eating habits
Sometimes it can be difficult to recognize or admit that domestic violence is taking place in your own home. Keep in mind that domestic violence can happen to anyone, anywhere. The state of Ohio defines domestic violence as a family member or member of your household or someone you are dating doing any of the following to you or another member of your household:
- Attempting to cause bodily injury
- Threatening bodily harm
- Causing or threatening harm to a child, including mental injury
- Sexual abuse
Protecting You and Your Child from Domestic Violence
It can also be difficult to know how to act to protect yourself and your child from further abuse while ensuring your immediate safety from the abuser. If you or your child is experiencing domestic abuse, here are a few steps you can take to protect yourself and your child:
Talk to Someone
If you or your child is in immediate danger, call 911. Once you are assured of your immediate safety, call a domestic violence hotline (a few of which are listed at the top of this blog). A domestic violence organization can help advise you on your next steps and can help you make a longer-term plan to ensure your safety and security. It may be wise to call from a friend’s house or another location where you can feel safe making that call.
Make a Plan
It can be hard to leave an abuser. Speaking with someone from a domestic violence hotline can help you make a plan to leave. They may also be able to connect you to a local women’s shelter, if necessary, or to think of people in your life that would be willing and able to take in you and your child.
Even just visualizing the steps that you might take to leave can help to prepare you psychologically. That plan could include:
- A safe place to go and a means to get there.
- A viable excuse to leave the house.
- A code word to let a loved one know that you need help.
- A bag of emergency supplies.
Packing a bag for an emergency that holds essential items can help reassure you that you and your child have what is necessary to leave. To avoid suspicion from the abuser, it might be wise to store this bag at a friend’s house. You might plan to include:
- A spare set of car keys
- A list of important phone numbers, in case you don’t have your phone
- Clothing and toiletries for you and your child
- Diapering supplies
- Important documents, including birth certificates, Social Security cards, and passports
Hire an Attorney
An experienced family law attorney can help you navigate the next steps to rebuild you and your child’s life. The first step will likely involve filing a Domestic Violence Civil Protection Order, sometimes known as a restraining order, which can last for up to five years. A protection order can offer broad protections, including:
- Ordering the abuser to stay away from you and your child
- Awarding you custody of your child
- Evicting the abuser from your shared home
- Requiring the abuser to pay you monthly support, rental or mortgage payments, and utility payments
- Requiring the abuser to see a counselor
Violating a protection order is a crime in and of itself, and the abuser can face jail time for violating it. In some cases, a judge will grant a Temporary Ex Parte Protection Order that will give you immediate protection from the abuser, pending a hearing for a Civil Protection Order.
Our knowledgeable and compassionate attorneys at Crossman & McNamee, LLC can help you obtain a protective order against the abuser and ensure that protection order adequately protects the safety and well-being of you and your child. We can also help you file for divorce or legal separation and fight for a child custody arrangement that protects the safety of your child from the abuser.
We understand the trauma and upheaval that you and your child are experiencing, and we are here to support you as you take the necessary steps to rebuild your life. If you or your child are experiencing domestic violence in Greene County, contact Crossman and McNamee, LLC today at (937) 468-3796 to book a same-day appointment with an experienced attorney.