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What to do when a loved one is suffering from domestic abuse

Domestic violence is a serious problem in Virginia, and many people have loved ones who are in relationships involving domestic abuse. There are several things people can do to help their loved ones who are in abusive relationships, and taking specific steps might help to save them.

Statistics show that 25 percent of women will be abused at some point in their lives. In the U.S., there are more than 10 million domestic violence victims every year, including both men and women. People stay in abusive relationships for several reasons, including threats, feeling as if they don't have anywhere that they could go and being financially dependent on their abusers.

People should listen and act supportive, making sure to tell the victims that their abuse is not a result of their fault. They should also help their loved ones to develop safety plans, including escape routes and hiding places. Programming emergency numbers into their phones is important. Locating the domestic violence shelter that is closest and teaching the children how to get emergency help are also important. People should make themselves available to go with their loved one to the police, to domestic violence support groups, to court and to their attorney's office.

Domestic violence may have an impact on child custody. A parent who is a victim of domestic abuse might want to talk to a family law attorney about filing for a protective order as well as for custody. An attorney can seek appropriate relief in order to minimize the danger to the client as well as to the children.

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