This week, Imagine Hope Counseling Group is dedicating our blog topic in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Earlier this week, we heard from Teri, Tamara and Natalie about signs of domestic violence, the cycle of domestic violence and what to do if you know someone in a relationship that includes domestic violence. Today we will discuss what to do if you are the victim of domestic violence and resources to help point you in the right direction. Domestic Violence is such a horrific thing to experience, and can leave the victim feeling helpless, terrified, and alone. What are some things you can do if you are in this situation?
- Call the police or 911 if you are in an abusive episode or if you are afraid of your abuser. Sometimes when a victim of domestic violence has experienced repeated episodes of abuse, they are either becoming numb to the situation, or too afraid of their abuser to call law enforcement officials. The police are there to assist in situations where you feel like your personal safety is jeopardized. In addition, it's a good idea to have the incident documented, so filing a police report can help protect you in the long run. If you have been injured by your abuser, seek medical attention and have the injuries documented and photographed.
- Get an order of protection or a restraining order against your abuser if necessary.
- Come up with a safety plan. If you are afraid of your abuser, create a plan of how you can leave the situation quickly if things escalate. Check the resources at the end of this article, as there are many safe "havens" which can help you in many different ways. A safety plan should include a way for you to leave the situation, and may include things such as keeping a bag packed and having a place to go, as well as a plan for your children or pets. Be honest with yourself about the situation, as well as the potential consequences and seek out the help of professionals when needed.
- TELL SOMEONE who is trusted and safe that you are in a domestic violence situation! One of the most terrifying parts of being in an abusive situation, besides the abuse itself, is the isolation the abuse can create. If you are in a relationship with domestic violence, it's important that someone knows what you are experiencing. It may feel embarrassing or intimidating to speak out to a trusted friend or professional, but it could save your life in the long run.
- Seek out counseling or other help from a professional that has knowledge in domestic violence. They can assist you in finding ways to cope with the situation until you can leave and can help you in getting your identity back. Being in the middle of such a scary situation can cloud the ability to see things from all angles and figure out your options. A professional can help you sort through this and point you in the right direction. They understand what you are going through and it's impact on your life.
- If you are contacting resources for help, make sure to do so from a secure location (a secure phone and computer, too).
- Realize that if you are in an abusive relationship, your rights and boundaries are being violated! You have the right to peace and safety, and you do not deserve to be manipulated, threatened, beaten, or abused emotionally!
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1(800)799-7233 (anonymous and confidential), http://www.thehotline.org/
National Resource Center on Domestic Violence: 1(800)537-2238, http://www.nrcdv.org/
INDIANAPOLIS AREA RESOURCES:
United Way: 24-hour Domestic Violence Helpline: (317)926-4357, www.liveunited.org
Domestic Violence Network of Greater Indianpolis: (317)475-6110, www.dvnconnect.org
Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence (317)917-3685, www.violenceresource.org
Prevail: (317)776-3472, www.prevailinc.com Prevail serves the community as an advocate for victims of crime and abuse in Hamilton and surrounding counties, offering a 24-hour crisis line and services free of charge.
The Julian Center: (317)941-2200, www.juliancenter.org (Crisis & Suicide Intervention Service, available 24 hours a day) The Julian Center is a unique, non-profit agency providing counseling, safe shelter, and education for women and children who are survivors of Domestic Violence and abuse.
Beacon of Hope Center For Women: (317)731-6131.
The Family Advocacy Center, (317)327-6900. The Family Advocacy Center is a non-profit organization offering supportive services to families affected by child abuse or Domestic Violence.
Breaking Free: (317)923-4260. Breaking Free supports , educates and advocates for individuals and families affected by family violence and relationship abuse.
Coburn Place safe haven: (317)923-5750. Coburn Place's mission is to provide support services and safe, affordable housing to women and children who are homeless because of leaving abusive situations.
As always, thank you for reading our blog this week! We will see you next week!
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.