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What are the legal considerations for a victim of domestic violence?

Dr. Elif E. Oker, MD
Medical Toxicology

1 in 4 American women and 1 in 10 American men will experience intimate partner violence at some point in their lives. It is well documented that the most dangerous time for a victim involved with a batterer is the time they attempt to leave. In fact, it takes 7-8 attempts on average to leave a relationship. While there are laws that have made domestic violence a crime, often the legal system including the courts fall short of being able to protect the victim. There are many legal considerations involved so victims are best served if they work closely with an experienced domestic violence agency or shelter. Some legal considerations include:

  • Whether to file a police report and obtain an order of protection?
  • Divorce or separation, if the victim is married to the batterer.
  • Custody and visitation for the children from the relationship.
  • Seeking medical care, as physicians are mandated reporters and this will often trigger a call to police.
  • Having access to your finances, home and health insurance, particularly if these are controlled by the batterer.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.