“BE CAREFUL AND BRAVE”
(Jul. 22, 2019) — Do you need to hire a domestic violence lawyer, but aren’t sure about who to hire? Read on to learn how to find the best domestic violence lawyer.
Every minute 20 people are physically abused by their partner and that’s just in the United States. That doesn’t count other countries or verbal/emotional abuse – which is also very real.
If you were one of those 20 and you’re trying to get yourself out of that situation, we’re rooting for you.
You’ll need a good domestic violence lawyer and a good team of support to succeed. Need help finding that lawyer and the support team?
Read the tips below.
Photograph the Evidence
If you’ve been abused for the last time, take pictures of all your bruises and any lacerations. Make sure there’s a time stamp on those photos.
If you’re working up the courage to leave, try to document as much of the abuse as you can.
If it’s verbal or emotional abuse, never delete text messages or voicemails; they’ll act as evidence.
Get a Restraining Order
Once you officially leave your abusive partner or situation, go to the police station. You can request a restraining order and the police will serve it to your abuser.
It’s not immediately permanent, but it will be if it’s so decided in court in the next few weeks.
Keep a copy of any paperwork the police give back to you on your person until your court date.
Find Some Advocates
Before you find a lawyer, and you’re going to need one for that aforementioned court date, you’ll need to find some support.
Even if you don’t need to stay at your local domestic violence shelter, make an appointment to see someone there.
Not only will they listen to you and your story, but they can help you access resources you wouldn’t otherwise know about.
If you need somewhere to go, these safe houses should be the second place you go, after the police station.
Now that you have legal protection in place and people on your team, it’s time to find a lawyer who can help you win your case.
How to Find a Domestic Violence Lawyer
If you’re staying at a safe house or shelter, the counselors and staff there should have some leads for you on legal representation.
There’s even a chance that they know lawyers who will represent you pro-bono or at a reduced fee.
If you have referrals, skip to step 2.
- Do an Internet Search
If you’re not yet in a safe situation or place, make sure you erase your browsing history or use a public computer (like one at the library) when you search for a lawyer.
Knowing that you’re looking to get out of an abusive situation can make an abuser even more violent. In fact, leaving is the most dangerous time for someone in an abusive relationship.
Search for a domestic partner violence lawyer or domestic violence lawyers in your area. If there’s no one in your town, try a town close by.
Look for a lawyer that will do a free consult or at least one that will talk to you and answer your questions before charging you billing hours.
Ask them if they have time to take on your case and let them know what your goal is. Are you most concerned with legal separation, like divorce and child custody? Or legal action, like pressing charges?
Most cases will include both, but start with what you’re most concerned about. Your abusive partner can come to child custody court once they’re in jail.
- Schedule a Time to Meet
Once you’ve Googled enough and you find a lawyer you feel is the right fit, schedule your first meeting. Bring all the evidence you have to this meeting, including any photos or screenshots of abuse.
Your lawyer can help you document these as official evidence, and likely can print them out for you if they’re on your phone.
If you haven’t gotten a protection order yet, they can help you file one with the police, too.
- Be Open and Honest
Your lawyer needs to know exactly what happened when your partner abused you. Were they drinking? What set them off? Did they make it seem like it was your fault?
It’s never your fault when someone else takes violent action against you. There’s nothing you could do or say that warrants physical or verbal assault.
Even if they’ve made you believe you deserved it – you didn’t. That’s a classic trick abusive people use to keep their victims under their control.
You should also tell your attorney or lawyer if you ever fought or hit back. It’s human nature to defend yourself when you’re being attacked, so don’t be frightened.
As long as you didn’t initiate the abuse, most likely you have the law on your side.
- Do Not Contact Your Abuser
This is tricky. The restraining order works both ways; your abuser can’t contact you and you can’t contact them. If you need to communicate with them, let the police officer on your case or your lawyer know.
They’ll help you coordinate things like living situations and custody while you’re waiting for your official court date.
Be Careful and Brave
Leaving a domestic violence situation is a dangerous time for the victim, but that doesn’t mean you should stick around and keep getting abused.
Abusers almost never “get better”, no matter how many times they promise to never touch you or abuse you again.
Don’t try to figure out what to do on your own. From safe houses to domestic violence lawyers, to family members, there are people on your side.
We want you to be safe and well-represented.
If you have other questions about your legal situation, check out the resources on our site.
Sharon Rondeau has operated The Post & Email since April 2010, focusing on the Obama birth certificate investigation and other government corruption news. She has reported prolifically on constitutional violations within Tennessee’s prison and judicial systems.