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Archive for the ‘Domestic Abuse’ Category

Mandated Reporting: What you Need to Know

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Child abuse is often plagued by children and other family members who don’t know where to turn for help. They want the child to be safe, but they are also afraid that the child will be put into the foster care system or even worse. The main problem here is mandated reporting. If you come forward with your concerns will people report you? Actually, mandated reporting is a blessing in disguise for most people involved. Here’s a bit about how the system works and why it will help, not hurt, you.

Mandated reporting laws vary greatly from state to state. However, in general, these laws say that anyone who works with a child they believe is being abused is obligated to report this abuse to the authorities. This includes teachers, doctors, counselors, day care workers and baby-sitters, and so forth are all required by law to report child abuse. Basically, anyone who come into contact with the child is held under these laws.

Laws vary, but in most cases, a person is only legally required to report a situation when he or she is told of the abuse. So, if a child confides in the adult that he or she is being abused, a parent admits the abuse, or another family member comes forwards and discloses this information, the person must contact Child Protective Services. On the other hand, if the person only suspects the abuse is occurring, it is a judgment call. It is always better to report abuse and risk being wrong than to not report it and be right. However, some people will wait until they have hard evidence of abuse before reporting it.

Just because you aren’t trained to spot abuse or deal with situation in which a child tells you he or she is being abused doesn’t mean that you aren’t required to report the situation. Legally, most people dealing with children are required under mandating reporting laws. However, only teachers, doctors, police staff, and such are actually trained in most cases. If a child comes forward to you, however, you should always report it even if you think he or she is lying to get attention. Legally, in many cases, you must do so not matter what you think about the situation.

After reporting, Child Protective Services will investigate the situation. At this point, you’ll be asked further questions, as will other people in the child’s life. Contrary to what most people think, children, even those who are undoubtedly being abused, are usually placed with family members if they are removed from the home at all. These agencies are very careful to make sure that there really is an abusive situation on hand.

Therefore, if you believe that a child is being abused or have witnessed the abuse yourself, don’t be afraid of mandated reporting. If the situation is reported, only good can come from it. The child will be removed from the situation and, in most cases, the abuser will get help to control his or her violent tendencies. Mandated reporting is your friend.

Is Domestic Violence Happening to You?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

It may seem a bit silly to ask the question in the title, but sadly, many people aren’t sure what qualifies as domestic violence. Is your relationship abusive or just unhappy? Learning the legal definitions of abuse can help you understand when it is crucial to get help, no matter how much you care about the other person.

Abuse can be categorized into a number of topic areas. However, all are abuse and should be taken seriously. If you experience any of these types of abuse, seek help from the police as soon as possible. Remember, domestic abuse can come from a spouse – male or female, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent, an adult figure in the household, or even an adult child in the case or senior citizens.

Sexual abuse is the first type of domestic abuse you should consider. Even if you are married to someone, sex without your consent is abuse and, in most cases, rape. Sexual abuse also comes in the form of sex with a minor or sexual contact with a minor. This is child abuse and a tragic form of domestic violence.

Domestic abuse can also be physical in a non-sexual way. All forms of violence are considered abuse. Even being hit once or being slapped rather than punched is a form of abuse. Physical domestic abuse can come from a man or a woman, so remember that it is possible for a wife to be the abuser. Physical violence against children is also a form of domestic abuse, although spanking is not illegal as a form of punishment. Check out your state laws to understand where spanking turns from punishment for a naughty child to physical domestic abuse.

Physical domestic abuse can be a one-time thing or come in the form of outbursts. This is comment, and afterwards, the abuser usually apologizes and wins back the hearts of his or her family. However, this does not make it OK. Always seek help if physical violence has occurred. Promises to change only lead to more physical abuse. Eventually, someone who simply has violent outbursts starts to have them more and more often until abuse is a part of your daily life.

The law also recognizes terrorism and verbal abuse as domestic abuse. In a household, the head of the family may not actually hit others, but he or she may still abuse others in the house with threats, cruel and unusual punishments, coercion, blackmail, humiliation, degradation, and so forth. Stalking may also be a form of abuse, and it is against the law if you have a restraining order out against the other person.

Restraining orders are the best way to put an end to domestic abuse (or at least start the process). Domestic abuse is not your fault, and the law is on your side. If you are being abused sexually, physically, or psychologically, seek help today. With a restraining order and the help of a good lawyer, you can put your life back on track for happiness, and you can bring your abuser to justice.

How can the Police Help your Domestic Abuse Case?

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

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.

How a Restraining Order Can Protect You

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, one of the first things you should do is get a restraining order against your abuser. A restraining order won’t stop a person from attacking you if he or she really wants to, but it can protect you legally. It can also help you bring a situation to the authorities before it escalates into more abuse. Even if you care about you abuser, a restraining order is in your best interest.

A restraining order might also be called a protective order or a TPO (temporary protective order). Your state government runs the legal restraining order program, and it varies slightly in each state as to what requirements are needed to get a restraining order. If you are being abused, go to the courthouse in your county immediately. They can help you fill out the right papers to file for a restraining order.

When you apply for the restraining order, the state will contact you abuser to notify him or her about the order. Every state is different, but in general, your abuser may not try to come near you, even in public places. He or she will be banned from premises where you are sure to be (your home, your place of employment, your school, etc.), and cannot seek your presence in other public locations. For example, he or she cannot wait at your child’s daycare center, knowing that you have to stop there to pick up your child. You can also specify that you’re like all contact to be stopped. This means that your abuse cannot contact you via notes, phone calls, or even gifts. All contact must be made through a lawyer to your lawyer or to the court. There are varying degrees allowed here, depending on the state and your personal preferences.

If your abuser contacts you or comes near you, he or she is in violation of the restraining order. The best thing to do if this happens is to call the police right away. Even if your abuser “just wants to talk,” it is best to keep everything through the court systems. If you call the police, they will show up immediately and take care of the situation. Often, simply threatening to call the police is enough to get the abuser to leave you alone.

The restraining order can also order your abuser to do things other than stay away from you. He or she may have to pay bills for injury and damagers, continue to pay child support, relinquish property owned by you, attend violence classes, and so forth. If she or she violates these orders, you will not be in immediate danger. In this case, instead of calling the police, file a motion for contempt. This will let the courts know that there is a problem, and the situation can be remedied as soon as possible.

Domestic violence is not a small problem – it is a huge one. Your abuser, although he or she might apologize, needs to be helped. Filing a restraining order is the best way to protect yourself and those around you.

Child Abuse: How to Stop It

Tuesday, February 5th, 2008

Child abuse is tragic because, unlike an adult, a child does not have the resources to help him- or herself in many cases. Often, those near the child suspect neglect or violence. Unfortunately, people are hesitant to report suspected abuse for a number of reasons – most often because they are worried about being wrong. Stop worrying. It is better to be wrong and report a possible case of child abuse than to be right and not say anything. You main concern here should be the care and safety of the child involved.

Not every state has a hotline for child abuse. However, if your state does, this is the first place to turn because it puts the case on the radar right away. Unfortunately, lines at child abuse hotlines are often busy for long periods of time. Keep trying. Eventually, you will get through and be able to report your case.

Before you call, take a moment to gather information about the child, his or her family, and the problems as you see. First and foremost, have the child’s full name and, if possible, age, address, and home phone number. The hotline call attendant will ask about details of the case, so you’ll have a chance to fully explain your suspicions. Make a note as to the dates you’ve seen marks on the child, should that be the case. Also make a note of specific acts of verbal or physical violence that you’ve witnessed in person. The attendant will also ask you what other children are in the house and where the child goes to school, so find out this information if you can.

As you are making the call, make sure that you write down all of the information surrounding your report. Note the date and time as well as the name of the person with whom you talked. Ask lots of questions about your next steps and their next steps, and don’t hesitate to ask for a manager. If you feel like the matter isn’t being taken seriously, your best option is to hang up and call the police or 9-1-1 if you believe that the child is in immediate danger.

If you aren’t sure if the child is actually being abused, it is a good idea to report the incident anyway. Children often try to hide their abuse because they think it is their fault or are worried about getting into more trouble. When in doubt, report.

Never take matters into your own hands. The court system is set up to protect children as much as possible. You can do your part by simply reporting the problem. Do not put yourself at risk as well. Remember, you can report anonymously if you feel uncomfortable giving out your name. The focus here is making sure that the child is as safe as possible, not pointing fingers at accusers. The only way to help stop domestic child abuse is to report it to the authorities.