Victims are often afraid to bring domestic abuse charges against a spouse or partner. However, taking steps to hold your abuser accountable can enable you to get the help you need and free you from the chains of a violent relationship. Hiring a lawyer for domestic violence victims and documenting abuse, stalking, and other incidents can help back up your claims and provide evidence in a criminal case or divorce proceedings.
If you’re considering taking legal action against an abusive partner, it’s important to gather as much evidence as possible. Documenting their abusive behaviors is also a critical component of building a case against them. Although each state has different rules about which type of evidence is permissible, some things to consider include:
- Date-stamped pictures of your injuries
- Photos of broken items and your home in disarray after violent episodes
- Photos of weapons your abuser has used or threatened to use against you
- Police reports from when you or a witness called the police
- Medical reports that document your injuries
- Any diaries or calendars documenting the abuse
- A list of people who are aware of the abuse or have witnessed it
Digital evidence, such as texts, emails, IMs, missed phone calls, and voicemails can be invaluable in a domestic violence case. Taking screenshots and sending them to someone you trust or saving them somewhere safe (not on a personal device) can help in case you lose your phone or your abuser takes it from you. These items also provide valuable evidence you can bring to a divorce attorney consultation.
Items to Take with You
When planning to leave an abuser, it’s a good idea to collect certain items ahead of time. If possible, give them to a loved one for safekeeping. These include:
- Identification for yourself and your children, including driver’s licenses, passports, birth certificates, social security cards, and green cards or other immigration paperwork
- Documents such as your marriage certificate, divorce decree, custody and child support orders, protection from abuse orders, health insurance cards, vaccination records, banking information, leases or deeds, and vehicle titles and insurance cards
- Address book and/or list of emergency contacts
- Copies of keys to your home, vehicles, and safety deposit box
- Cash, credit cards, ATM cards, and checkbook
- Items of value if you don’t have access to cash or bank accounts
- Medications and prescriptions
- Family photos, keepsakes, children’s toys, and other items that give you comfort
Don’t Hesitate to Lean on Loved Ones
Friends and family who are aware of the situation or have observed the abuse can provide valuable witness testimony in domestic violence cases, so don’t hesitate to confide in someone you trust. You may also want to ask a reliable loved one if you can stay with them when you leave.
Sadly, it’s not uncommon for abusers to isolate their victims. If you don’t have anyone close to you who can offer a helping hand, make sure to look into domestic violence resources such as shelters and victims’ services. Your divorce attorney or child support lawyer can also provide compassionate support and help you find resources to make a safe, clean break from an abusive relationship.