You have a lot of options to bring the situation under control and protect yourself from future incidents of domestic violence. You may decide to end the relationship with your abuser, to restrict contacts, or take some other action. Remember: Only you can make this decision. And no one should refuse to help you because you have decided to stay in the relationship.

Below is a list of options to keep in mind. The first several options can help for low-level abuse, while the last several options should be considered if you have been involved in severe physical violence:

1. Individual counseling – Helpful to overcome long-term emotional problems such as anger, depression, or anxiety. Prescription medications may be helpful in some cases.

2. Couples counseling – Helpful to improve communication skills and resolve conflicts, especially in cases of mutual abuse. Note: Do not participate in couple counseling unless your counselor believes it is safe and you feel comfortable with the idea.

3. Alcohol and drug abuse treatment – Alcohol and drug abuse often contributes to domestic violence incidents. A variety of individual counseling, 12-step, and residential treatment options are available.

4. Job training – Unemployment often contributes to domestic violence. Developing new skills can help to find new job opportunities.

5. Restraining order (also called an order of protection) – Orders a person to stay away from you and not communicate with you. Restraining orders can help stop verbal abuse, but not physical violence.

6. 911 Call – Useful if you have been assaulted, or threatened with assault. (Note: In states with mandatory arrest policies, police generally must make an arrest – even if all you want is for the police to help get the situation back under control.)

7. Abuse shelter – Provide a short-term (usually 1-2 months) place to stay and get help.

8. Relocation – In cases of severe and long-term physical violence, you may need to move to a different state, and even take on a new name and identity.

  • Love is Respect
  • Ensign C, Jones P. Gender-Inclusive Work with Victims and their Children in a Coed-Shelter. 2006.

Click here to return to list of topics.