Dr. Roxanne Dryden-Edwards is an adult, child, and adolescent psychiatrist. She is a former Chair of the Committee on Developmental Disabilities for the American Psychiatric Association, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, and Medical Director of the National Center for Children and Families in Bethesda, Maryland.
Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.
If an acute episode of domestic violence occurs in the home, first assess your immediate safety.
The question of when to obtain immediate assistance from the local law-enforcement agency must be based on your belief that there is risk of bodily injury or death.
If you believe that you or others in the home are in immediate danger, call 911.
If possible you should attempt to do this without the abuser's knowledge, because this could lead to an escalation of the violence.
If you are currently in an abusive relationship, make plans to ensure both your and your children's safety in the event of recurrent or escalating violence. The following is a description of the Personalized Safety Plan from the Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, California.
Safety plan if abuser currently lives with you
If possible, avoid arguments in small rooms, rooms without easily accessible exits, or in rooms with access to weapons (such as the kitchen).
Avoid the use of alcohol and other mind-altering substances because they may impair the your ability to protect yourself and your children.
Plan which doors and windows may provide quick exit routes if immediate escape is necessary. Also, plan a meeting place outside of the home.
If possible, tell a reliable friend or neighbor to notify law enforcement if they hear anything suspicious coming from your home or over the telephone.
Select a code word to indicate the need to call law enforcement.
In the event that you must quickly leave your home, you should have immediate access to the following items:
Identification for yourself and your children (driver's license, passports, green cards, birth certificates)
Important documents (such as school and health records, insurance policies, car titles, mortgage papers, marriage license)
Court documents (protective orders, divorce, or custody papers)
Supply of prescription medications or a list of the medications and dosages
Clothing, toys, and other comfort items for both you and your children
Extra set of car, house, and safety deposit box keys
Phone numbers and addresses of family, friends, and community resources