Physical Abuse (cont.)
Check Your Symptoms
If you feel threatened, you must have a plan for dealing with a threatening situation. If a family member or someone else has threatened to harm you or your child, seek help:
- If you need immediate help, call.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233) or see the website at www.ndvh.org. for free, confidential counseling and information about local community resources.
- Tell someone: the police, a trusted friend, a spiritual adviser, or a health professional. If the incident occurred at work, contact your human resources department for help.
- Find local resources that can help in a crisis. Your local YMCA, YWCA, police department, mental health clinic, or hospital has information on shelters and safe homes.
- Be alert to warning signs, such as threats or drunkenness, so that you can avoid a dangerous situation. If you cannot predict when violence may occur, have an exit plan for use in an emergency.
- If a child tells you that he or she has been abused, stay calm. Tell the child that you believe him or her and that you will do your best to keep him or her safe. Report the abuse to the local police or child protective services agency. For more information, see the topic Child Abuse and Neglect.
If you are no longer living with a violent person, contact the police to obtain a restraining order if your abuser continues to pursue you and act violently toward you.
If you know someone who may be a victim of violent behavior
Here are some things you can do to help a friend or family member.
- Let your friend know you are willing to listen whenever she or he wants to talk. Don't confront your friend if she or he is not ready to talk. Encourage your friend to talk with her or his health professional, human resources manager, and supervisor to see what resources might be available.
- Tell your friend that the abuse is not her or his fault and that no one deserves to be abused. Remind your friend that violence is against the law and that help is available. Be understanding if she or he is unable to leave. She or he knows the situation best and when it is safest to leave.
- If your friend has children, gently point out that you are concerned that the violence is affecting them. Many people do not understand that their children are being harmed until someone else talks about this concern.
- Encourage and help your friend develop a safety plan. This plan will help keep your friend and her or his children safe during a violent incident, when preparing to leave, and after leaving.
The most important step is to help your friend contact local domestic violence groups. There are programs across the country that provide options for safety, legal support, support, and needed information and services. To find the nearest program:
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the website at www.ndvh.org.
- Call the National Center for Victims of Crime at 1-800-FYI-CALL (1-800-394-2255), or see the website at www.ncvc.org/ncvc/main.aspx?dbID=dash_Home.
The most dangerous time for your friend may be when she or he is leaving the abusive relationship, so any advice about leaving must be informed and practical.
Violence is learned behavior, so it is especially important to help your children learn that violence is not a healthy way to resolve conflict. Living in a violent environment increases your child's chances of developing behavior problems, depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, poor school achievement, and lowered expectations for the future. People who are maltreated as children are more likely to abuse others. If you were ever abused, it is very important to get treatment so that you learn different ways to resolve conflict and use appropriate discipline.
If you have been a victim of abuse and continue to have problems related to the abuse, you may experience mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For more information, see the topics Depression, Anxiety, or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Symptoms to watch for during home treatment
If violence occurs again, call your doctor to decide if and when you need to see your doctor or get other help.