In all states, one can get legal protection from domestic violence through a civil domestic violence protective order or through the criminal process.  The American Bar Association published a helpful comparison of states laws in 2016. You should review the laws in your state to know what options are available.

If You Are a Victim.

If you are the victim of domestic violence the first thing you should do is separate yourself from the abuser and call the police.   In many areas, police get special training to deal with domestic situations.

Typically, law enforcement must have sufficient evidence to arrest a person suspected of domestic violence and often that means that they will look for signs of physical injury.   Of course, domestic violence can be something other than physical injury in most states.  For example, placing a person in fear of bodily injury is also domestic violence in states like Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, North Carolina and many other states.

One of the things any victim of domestic violence should ask law enforcement for are resources.   Many areas have domestic violence counseling and shelters available and law enforcement will be able to provide you a list of resources.

If you can’t find local resources with referrals from law enforcement, or you are wondering how to escape an abusive situation, you should call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This is a free call and you can get support and guidance on how to protect yourself.  Before doing online research, you should make certain your spouse is not spying on your computer.

If a Child is a Victim.

If you have a child who is a victim of domestic violence by your spouse or someone in your household, you should remove the child from the situation immediately and contact law enforcement and your local child protective services office to make a report.  In some states, the failure to report child abuse is a crime and failing to act not only further endangers the child but it could put you in legal jeopardy.

Contact an Attorney.

You may want to consider contacting a divorce attorney to advise you.   Divorce attorneys in your area, like a divorce lawyer in Phoenix, Arizona, will be able to identify further resources for you and give you advice not only on domestic violence, but on matters such as child custody, support and possession of property.   A local attorney will be able to thoroughly explain your state’s laws regarding divorce, domestic violence, and division of assets.