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Dealing with domestic violence in Virginia

Many people are victims of domestic violence, and they may not know what to do in order to plan for their safety and to get help. There are options available to victims of domestic violence. It is important for those affected to secure the safety of themselves and any children as well as to seek help from the appropriate authorities.

Domestic violence can include physical violence, sexual assault and emotional abuse that is designed to help the perpetrator control the abused victim. The first step a victim might consider is how to make certain he or she as well as any children are safe. Planning to escape quickly can be important, and those who need to do so should locate an appropriate place to go when the opportunity arises. Gathering all important documents in advance of the escape can be helpful, as can keeping handy a list of emergency numbers.

Victims may be able to seek assistance through several agencies. In addition to local law enforcement agencies, people may be able to receive help through a local domestic violence program or a victim program. Additionally, people may be able to receive help from a family law attorney in filing paperwork for an emergency domestic violence restraining order.

While it may seem overwhelming and hopeless at times, help is truly available to the victims of domestic violence. When victims seek and obtain protective orders, the perpetrator may be restrained from contacting them in any way or from coming within specified distances of places they may be found. A domestic violence agency may be able to provide anonymous shelter so the perpetrator may not easily find his or her victim. Planning to escape and knowing the available assistance is vital and may help prevent further abuse from occurring.

Source: Department of Criminal Justice Services, "An Informational Guide for Domestic Violence Victims in Virginia Understanding The Legal Process for Victims of Family Abuse", December 19, 2014

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