Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It can happen to anyone: smart people, wealthy people, beautiful people, “perfect” couples, same-sex couples, and religious couples. It can happen sporadically or repeatedly. It happens to men as well as women. And it is never OK.
I often consult with domestic violence victims. Many of them are embarrassed. They worry that the legal system will judge them. They worry about all the “what if’s”: “What if child protective services finds out and they take away my kids,” “What if I report this and my husband tells the court that I take psychiatric medication and I lose my kids,” “What if I report this my wife will brings up the DUII I got 12 years ago when I had an alcohol problem and I lose my kids?”
I’ve also heard a multitude of “justifications” from victims over the years: “It’s the first time that anything like this has happened,” “I made him really upset,” “It’s really not a big deal,” “But she is such a good mom,” “If I report this, he will lose his job and I don’t work. How will we survive?” All these distressing thoughts swirl and increase the fear that those who are in a violent relationship already face every day.
Violence is never acceptable in your domestic situation. No matter how mad someone gets, no matter what frustrations someone is facing, acting out in a violent way is never an appropriate way to handle stress or anger. If you are experiencing violence in your home, against you or a child, you need an action plan. And we are here to help you start that plan.
First, call the police when you experience physical violence in your home. Even if the police do not arrest the abuser, there is a record of the call. If you are injured, take a photograph of the injury. Even if the photograph is of an injury to an intimate body part, take the photo. Photos provide compelling visual evidence of what you have experienced and are often more impactful than a verbal description of what happened alone.
Second, even if the police do not file charges against the abuser, you can obtain protection in the form of a Family Abuse Prevention Act Order (FAPA Order) or a Stalking Order (commonly referred to as “restraining orders”). The type of order you may be eligible for depends on your relationship with the abuser (intimate partner, family member, or acquaintance) and what the abuser is doing. If granted or upheld after a hearing, violation of these orders is a criminal offense.
Third, seek legal advice. I encourage you to talk to a lawyer if you are being hurt by your partner. Even if you are not ready to take a legal action, you can at least gain some knowledge about what options are available to you in your situation. Relief begins with having someone in your corner to help protect you and your finances, if and when you are ready to get out. You can also get support and information through organizations like Clackamas Women Services (A Safe Place).
There are Options
I have represented men and women being harmed by their partner, or being accused of harming someone else. There are many options available to keep you safe and get you out. We are here to help you take those crucial steps toward safety. When we begin our conversation, I will get your history and your background and come up with a strategy that makes sense for you, your family, and all of your legal goals. It is OK to be afraid. It is OK to be embarrassed. But know there is no judgment at all, regardless of whether you are being abused, or being accused of abuse.
We have the experience to advise you on what makes sense for your situation. Give us a call. We can do evening or early appointments. We are discrete, and understand the need to have no record of your contact with us. You are not alone. Help is here for you.