What should you do if you are a victim of domestic violence? You should get help, even if you are not sure you are ready to leave the relationship. Here are five sources of help that are available to you, each of which has various benefits.
1. Friends and Family: Friends and family offer you love and support, because they have a relationship with you and are invested in your wellbeing. This benefits you because it helps you to know you are not alone and that you have ongoing support in dealing with the abusive relationship. If you have gone to them repeatedly and then stayed in the relationship, they may be unhappy with your choice and may seem angry or irritated. It may feel shameful to you to admit one more time that the problems are still there. Don’t let this shame or fear keep you from going to them. Their irritation and frustration is driven by their love for you.
2. Church: If you are involved in a church, you can seek help from your pastor, care ministries, women’s ministry, Stephen’s ministry, or anyone else available to you. Churches vary in their ability to respond to domestic violence, depending on whether or not they have professional or lay counselors and knowledge of abusive relationships. One of the negatives is that you may be told that you cannot consider divorce and can only separate, as many churches do not encourage divorce. You may also find that they do not understand the seriousness of verbal and emotional abuse. Many churches have financial help available through their care ministries that could enable you to leave the relationship or get professional help.
3. Professional Counseling: It is always helpful to seek professional counseling, when you are dealing with a difficult relationship and especially if there is domestic violence. Counselors are obviously trained to help you and will validate the seriousness of the abuse and strengthen your ability to set boundaries. If there are children in the home, some of the states have laws that require counselors to report to child protection services when the children have observed the domestic violence incidents. This is obviously for the good of the children, but it causes a crisis in the relationship. The negative of professional counseling is that it can be expensive, if you don’t have health insurance that covers the cost. However, it is worth exploring low cost counseling options that may be available in your workplace or community.
4. Police Department: Domestic violence, specifically physical abuse, is a crime. The police are trained to respond to domestic violence. You can call them to your home during or after an incident. Different states have different laws regarding the overseas domestic helper prosecuting of the perpetrator. Some do not require the victim to file a complaint and allow the district attorney to prosecute, even if the victim decides not to. These laws came about because of the tendency of victims to refuse to prosecute after the incident was over. You can also file a restraining order and get the perpetrator out of your home. Prosecuting the abuse gets them into court-ordered treatment. You can also call the police department to get referrals to domestic violence programs that can offer you legal help, counseling, and/or shelter.
5. God: Regardless of what your faith is, it is a comfort to have during times of trouble. Faith in God offers you comfort, hope, peace, purpose, and strength. If you haven’t been close to God, return to Him knowing that He does not support abuse and does not want you to be mistreated. Regardless of whether you believe it was God’s will or not for you to be in the relationship, God doesn’t want you to tolerate abuse now. Psalm 10:14 says, “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”