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Let’s talk about domestic violence

Every year, numerous Alaska residents find themselves victims of violence in their own homes, at the hands of a loved one. Every year, many of them suffer in silence because they believe there is no real help out there for them, or they are too scared to ask for it. As October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, it seems an appropriate time to address this topic and let victims of domestic violence know that they are not alone.

Before getting into the help options that are available to domestic violence victims, let’s talk about how prevalent this problem is in Alaska. According to a recently published article, 50% of women living in the state have experienced some form of domestic violence. The belief is that 40% of men have also. The true numbers are likely higher, as many cases go unreported.

What is the state doing to help victims?

There are several services available to domestic violence victims. Some of the most notable include:

  • Phone-in crisis lines
  • Shelters
  • Access to victim advocates

More information about these and the many other help programs can be obtained by contacting a crisis worker or researching local programs on the internet. Legal counsel may also be able to offer information on some of these services.

What can victims do to help themselves?

The first thing you can do if you are a victim of domestic violence is admit there is a problem and recognize that you deserve better, which is not necessarily easy. The next thing you can do is decide to take action and follow through. You can make all the plans in the world, but when threatened and abused, following through is not that simple. The third thing you can do, when ready, is to seek help and protection.

If you have a friend or family member who is a domestic violence victim, you can be a positive support system. You can help them understand that they do not have to put up with the abuse. You can help them understand that they deserve a life without it.

What can legal counsel do for domestic violence victims?

When ready, a family law attorney can assist victims of domestic violence in seeking orders of protection, legal separation or divorce. Your attorney will do everything in his or her power to keep you from having to see or be near your abuser as you take steps to officially end your relationship. If you have children, legal counsel can also help you achieve a custody order that fits your needs and helps keep your kids safe. The sooner you seek help, the better for you and your family.