Domestic violence is a serious problem in family relations. Too often, minor incidents are ignored, and this allows an abuser to escalate to serious violence without consequences. It is important for victims to recognize the signs of domestic violence so they can take action. A Bellevue domestic violence lawyer can help you explore your legal options for protecting yourself, your family, and your property.
How Do I Know If I Have Been the Victim of Domestic Violence?
It can be difficult to recognize the signs of domestic violence. It is not always as obvious as beating a victim into submission. Hitting, choking, burning, and other serious physical violence is often the last in a series of actions that consist of domestic violence. It is important to recognize the early warning signs before it escalates to life-threatening physical danger.
So what are the early warning signs of domestic violence? In many cases, a strict sense of control is an abuser’s first step toward gaining the submission of a victim. The abuser may check your spending habits or limit your access to money. He or she might demand to know where you have been and who you have been associating with. An abuser might cut off your contact with friends and family altogether. Your email and social media accounts will likely be examined. All of these subtle methods are designed to allow an abuser to gain control over a victim.
Abuse can also be accomplished through words. Mental control can be gained through threats, intimidation, harassment, and other verbal actions. The abuser often tries to convince a victim that he or she is wholly dependent on the abuser. The abuser might claim that you have no money or job prospects and that you will not get help from your friends or family. This is designed to convince you that you must stay with your abuser.
Should I Get a Restraining Order?
Restraining orders are available to help protect victims of domestic violence. Grounds for obtaining a restraining order include:
- an act by a member of a family or household against another member of the family or household that is intended to result in physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
- a threat that reasonably places the member in fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, assault, or sexual assault
- abuse (as defined by law)
- dating violence (as defined by law)
A restraining order is an important legal protection that can prohibit an abuser from coming near you or contacting you by phone, email, or social media. This tool can help you feel safer in your daily life. It is, however, important to remember that a restraining order is ultimately a piece of paper. All abuse victims should have a safety plan in place in order to protect themselves in the event that an abuser chooses to ignore a restraining order.
How Do I Protect My Children?
Children can also be protected through restraining orders. A parent can establish that an abuser has perpetrated family violence, child abuse, or sexual abuse on a child (or that any of these actions are reasonably likely to occur). The abuser can then be prevented from contracting the child, going near the child’s home or school, or otherwise endangering the child. In some cases, a restraining order can also prevent the abuser from being in the home at all. This ensures that your child can stay in his or her own home without the abuser being there.
As with adult restraining orders, it is important to have a safety plan in place for your children. An abuser who knows where the child lives and goes to school might choose to try to access the child, even with a restraining order in place. Emergency shelters can help victims access services, including housing, financial aid, food, utilities, clothing, and other essential items. Do not be afraid to get help in order to access all the services that will help keep you and your children safe from domestic violence.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Consultation with a Domestic Violence Lawyer in Bellevue, WA
Domestic violence is a terrible family circumstance that can cause lasting damage to you and your children. You don’t have to fight it alone. An experienced domestic violence lawyer at Aberdeen Family Law know how to help you access the legal tools that will help protect your family. Call 206-790-6430 to schedule your consultation. The sooner you have legal advice, the sooner you can begin rebuilding a safer life for you and your children.