If you are being domestically abused, it is important to seek help as soon as possible. It is against the law for you to be beaten in any way, even if you are in a relationship with another person or are related to the other person. Luckily, the law is on your side. There are a number of people who can and will help you. Know your rights! The police are often your first line of defense against a domestic abuser. Here’s how they can help you:
• Arresting the Abuser: If the police witness the abuse or see enough evidence that the abuse has definitely happened, he or she will arrest your abuser. Note that this is often a judgment call. You can help by being willing to sign the complaint. Police officers sometimes will not arrest an abuser if the evidence is not clear and you aren’t sure if you want to actually appear in court or even file a restraining order. Be confidence and assert yourself. If you have been abused, a police officer will help you if you are willing to help yourself.
• Transportation: If there are not enough grounds to arrest the abuser, or if the abuser makes bail and goes home, the police must transport your to a safe place if you ask for help. It is a good idea to go to this safe place as soon as the abuser is arrested instead of waiting. Safe places include houses of friends and family members, but remember that these will be the first locations your abuser will try to find you if he or she wants to. A better choice may be to go to a shelter for those in abusive relationships. There, you will be better protected.
Police are also able to escort you other places in order to keep you safe. For example, you can ask for a police escort to go back to your home and get items you need, like clothing and medications. You may also be able to get transportation from court hearings where your abuser will be present.
• Giving Advice: When domestic abuse is a problem and the police are called, they are required to give you advice, even if you choose not to press charges and even if the abuser is not arrested. The officer on call that responses to your situation should give you a written copy of your rights, as well as contact information should you want to get help at a later date. The officer should also give you all of his or her contact information in case you need it in the future.
In addition, the officer is legally required to write a police report for every call. You can obtain this police report quite easily from the officer, and should make sure that all information is correct before he or she leaves. This report may help you legally down the road, so keep it in a safe place.