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Should I Call the Police if I Have Been Physically or Sexually Assaulted?

YES. Battering is a crime. If you call the police and they find evidence to support your report, they may arrest the abuser even without a warrant. If the police cannot make an arrest when they are called out to investigate, you can still have the abuser arrested by visiting the magistrate and swearing out a warrant. Make an appointment with the magistrate first; then gather all possible evidence to take with you. One piece of evidence you will need is the police report, which is available at the police department. The law requires that the investigating officer provide you with their name and badge number. This information is necessary for you to get a copy of the report. If you use the police report to support the warrant, you should not be required to pay the usual $5.00 report fee.  Never sign a blank report form.

Breaking the Silence is the First Step

The first step in breaking away from an abusive relationship is telling someone. Tell your physician, minister, friend, or counselor--or call HOPE Place through HELPline the 24 hour crisis line (256) 716-1000. At first it may be hard to tell someone, but many abused women feel a great sense of relief once they have confided in someone about their abuse.

NOBODY deserves to be abused. Violent behavior is the responsibility of the one who is violent. You, the victim, did not cause the violence.

Surviving an Explosive Incident--Safety Planning Now Can Save Your Life

If an incident seems unavoidable, try to be in a room or area with an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best to use as an exit.
Pack a bag containing extra clothes for you and your children, any medications that you may need, an extra set of car and house keys, important papers such as birth certificates, proof of income, Social Security cards, driver's and marriage licenses, medical and insurance records, extra cash, checkbook or savings account book, title to the car, and rent or mortgage receipts.  Store these things in a safe place, that's undisclosed but easily accessible in case you need to leave quickly.

 Item Check List
 Identify a neighbor who you can tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
Decide and plan for a safe place where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will ever need to). You may want to arrange in advance to stay with family or friends. If their homes are not safe because the abuser knows where they live, then call HOPE Place through HELPline.
Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
Consider keeping a cell phone available at all times to call 911 in an emergency--if you need an emergency 911 cell phone call HELPline for information.


When Preparing To Leave

Open a savings account in your own name.  This will help you start to establish your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
Think about important papers or other items you may need to protect . If you should leave, you may need such items as birth certificates, social security cards, medications, etc.  
Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
Keep the HELPline phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card with you at all times for emergency phone calls.
Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember: 

Leaving Your Batterer Is The Most Dangerous Time

If you are attacked, call the police as soon as possible.  While the police are at your home, make arrangements to go somewhere safe.  Call HOPE PLACE if you need help with arranging safe shelter and a police escort in case you are followed.
Many assault injuries require medical treatment.  Even if you think that your injuries are minor, you may be hurt more than you realize.  Have your private physician or an emergency room physician treat and document your injuries. Medical records may also be evidence in case you decide to seek legal assistance later. Crisis Services offers forensic nursing exams for victims of domestic violence, call HELPline for information and/or an appointment.
Head injuries resulting from domestic violence can be a very serious problem and can leave effects long after the bumps and bruises heal. If you have received a blow or other assault to the head make sure you are screened for traumatic brain injury--TBI.
Even if you are not ready to leave, there is counseling available for you, your partner, and your children. Call  HELPline  (256) 716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426 (toll free in Alabama and Tennessee) for more information about support groups and other services.


Protection Orders. What Are They?

The law in Alabama now recognizes that battering is a crime that will not be excused or tolerated. You may seek safety for yourself or for a minor by filing a petition for protection from abuse (Protection Order) with the Alabama court in the district in which you live or to which you have fled for safety.  Forms for these petitions are available through the court clerk's office.  You may file a petition for a protection order through an attorney or you may file pro se (in other words, represent yourself). You will be given a hearing date (usually within 2 weeks) to present your petition to the judge --the evidence of threat will be considered and the judge will decide whether to issue a Protection From Abuse Order and the length of time it will be enforced.

Keep your protection order with you at all times. (When you change your purse that should be the first thing that goes in it.)
Call the police if your partner disobeys the protection order.
Think of alternate ways to stay safe if the police do not respond right away.
Inform your family, friends, neighbors and employer that you have a protection order in effect. 



Police reports that document what happened and how many times you have called for help.
Photographs of any injuries or property damage.
Medical records and emergency room reports.
Names, addresses, and statements of witnesses.
Recordings of threats or harassing telephone calls.
Copies of any threatening notes or letters.
A list of dates and times of any kind of threatening contact.(KEEP A JOURNAL)
Take this evidence with you when you leave, keep it in a safe place, and take it with you when you go to court.


Safety And Emotional Health

If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternate plan with someone you trust.
If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so. (Example--During a phone conversation, it might be helpful to have someone listen in on 
Educate yourself on domestic violence.  There are excellent books and articles on abusive relationships which you can find  in a bookstore or library.  
Find a support person with whom you can talk freely and openly to give you the support you need. Sometimes those closest to you may be too emotionally involved, and a counselor or support group friend may be more objective.
Plan to attend a women's or victim's support group for at least 2 weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.  You can call HELPline at (256) 716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426 for more information about support groups, counseling, and other victim services. 

On the Job and in Public

Decide who at work you will inform of your situation.  This should include office or building security (provide a picture of your batterer if possible).
Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible.
Devise a safety plan for when you leave work.  Have someone escort you to your car, bus or train.  Use a variety of routes to and from home (i.e., in your car, on the bus, etc.)

If You Are A Teen In A Violent Dating Relationship

Tell a friend, teacher, relative or police officer. what you are experiencing.
Call the Crisis Services HELPline at 256-716-1000 or 1-800-691-8426 to find out more about how you can make a safety plan and/or obtain a protection order. 

You CAN Leave

Many abusers will use verbal intimidation in order to frighten their victims into staying. 
    "You'll never see your children again."
    "You'll get nothing. You'll be on the street."

Please call HELPline to talk with a domestic violence advocate about staying safe, about options where you can flee with your children and information about services, including court advocacy to assist with a possible Protection from Abuse order and guidance on court proceedings.