22 Aug 2014
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Escaping Abuse: Domestic Violence Victims Need Support

The decision to leave an abusive relationship can be a difficult one.

Escaping Abuse: Domestic Violence Victims Need Support Escaping Abuse: Domestic Violence Victims Need Support

Domestic violence is devastating and is experienced by many. Unfortunately, one in four women and one in nine men will endure domestic violence at some point in their lifetime. That abuse can be verbal, sexual, physical, emotional, mental and/or financial. As victims suffer in silence, the abuse continues.

Victims often stay in abusive relationships because they don’t have the resources or knowledge of community support to leave and start a new life. Economic isolation compounds domestic violence by trapping individuals in abusive situations. The power and control of the abuser and the manipulation of every move the victim makes create a situation that can be almost impossible for a victim to leave and survive on their own. Unfortunately, domestic violence doesn’t always end after a victim is lucky enough to escape. Often, victims return to their abuser after their escape.

Family and friends should be positive and supportive, encouraging the victims to remain strong and to be there if needed for support. Unfortunately, no one can make the decision to leave for you. It’s important however to start somewhere by creating an escape/safety plan that is right for you and your situation.

Jennifer shares more about escaping domestic violence:

Leaving was the hardest thing I ever had to do as I was scared and had no money or car. I didn’t know where to turn or who to trust. This was the father of my child and the man I loved. I questioned leaving many times as I remember telling myself it’s not that bad. When I finally decided to leave, I called shelters every couple of hours for days but all were full. I had nothing. I even lost my hope. Having hope was always the biggest part of me. Before I was able to leave safely, I tried to take my own life. After my recovery, I knew I needed to do something as he almost took my life. I survived. I am a survivor! Domestic violence professionals led me to many resources in San Diego that included being a recipient of the HOPE Fund. If it wasn't for all the amazing people in my life that helped me on my journey, my path would be much different right now. My message to others who are in an abusive relationship, “Never give up HOPE!”

If you are a victim of abuse, when preparing to leave, find a safe way to put together a bag of necessities:

• Emergency cash. If you can, collect change, save grocery money, recycle.

• A change of clothes for yourself and your children.

• Social Security cards, birth certificates, immunization records and medical records.

• Marriage license and insurance information.

• A collection of evidence to show that you’ve been abused.

• Copies of court or protective orders.

• Checkbooks and information about bank accounts and other assets.

• Pay stubs.

• Tax returns.

• List of credit cards with account numbers, security code and expiration dates.

• Driver’s license.

• Important numbers of friends, doctors, schools, in case you don’t have your phone with you.

• Spare car keys.

• Valued photos, CDs or personal items.

One of the most important things you can do when developing your escape plan is to talk to a victim advocate who can help you fully consider safety issues, understand your legal rights and identify community resources (e.g., shelters, sources of financial assistance, or food banks). You can locate a victim advocate through a local domestic violence agency, which provides services at no charge to victims. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-7233) or The National Crime Victim Helpline, (800-394-2255) can also help you prepare a safety plan and find victim assistance within your own community.

If you need to leave quickly and there is no time to develop an escape plan, talk to family or friends to see if you can stay with them temporarily or seek out women’s advocacy centers and community shelters such as the YWCA or North County Violence Prevention Center. And, of course, if there is an immediate emergency and you fear for your safety or those of your children, call 911.

If a new identity is ever necessary, Social Security will help you when evidence shows that your life is endangered or are being abused. Click here for more information about changing your identity.  

Many communities gather together throughout the year to help with fundraising efforts for victims of domestic violence. On Saturday, Sept.15, at 6 p.m. at the Poway Sportsplex, the Office of the San Diego City Attorney’s Office, City of Poway and Operation For HOPE Foundation will join together for a the 3rd Annual Ready to Take The Diamond & Strike Out Domestic Violence charity fundraiser.

The fundraiser proceeds will benefit the HOPE Fund, a program of the Operation For HOPE Foundation benefitting victims of domestic violence by offering help and hope, so remaining safe is possible. The San Diego community is invited to join the fundraiser as we break cycles of violence that destroy relationships, families and our communities.

For more information about this co-ed, nine-inning softball game between the City of Poway and Office of the City Attorney, please visit the Operation For HOPE Foundation website.

The HOPE Fund benefits individuals in need and crisis. The HOPE Fund can make the difference because it quickly places resources into the hands of the victims for medical care, shelter, child care, utilities, food or other immediate need. This program reaches all communities in the San Diego region by assisting clients of community partners from the YWCA, Center for Community Solutions, and many other agencies who serve victims of domestic violence.

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