No one deserves to be a victim of domestic violence or abuse. An abusive partner may try to control you with threats, put-downs, possessiveness, or violence. If you’re experiencing any of these Warning Signs of Abuse in your relationship, it’s time to get help. You may feel like there’s nowhere to turn, but there is hope. No matter how difficult things might seem, you can find a way out of an abusive relationship. Many people and organizations care about your safety and well-being and can offer support.

Consider Speaking to a Domestic Violence Attorney

If you’re not sure whether you’re in an abusive relationship or if you need help figuring out what to do next, talking to an attorney or advocate can be very helpful. Most good domestic violence and abuse attorneys in North Carolina will be able to speak to you about your specific situation, answer your questions and help you understand your options. An advocate can provide support and connect you with resources in your community. When looking for an attorney or advocate, try to find someone who:

  • Has experience with domestic violence cases
  • Understands the local laws and how they apply to your case
  • It will make you feel comfortable and safe discussing your situation
  • Can offer referrals to other services if needed

Prepare for Your Safety When You Leave

Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. If possible, plan and put together a safety plan before you leave. This might include:

  • Packing a bag of clothes and essentials ahead of time and hiding it at a friend or relative’s house
  • Make copies of important documents like your driver’s license, birth certificate, passport, insurance cards, etc.
  • Opening a new bank account in your name only
  • Getting your cell phone that your partner doesn’t know about
  • Telling close friends or relatives about the abuse and asking them for help
  • Creating a code word that you can use with these people to let them know you need help
  • Identifying nearby places you can go if you need to leave quickly

Get Help from the Police

Even if you’re not ready to leave your relationship, the police can still help keep you safe. You can also file for a restraining order, called an order of protection or protective order. This court order requires your abuser to stay away from you, your home, and your workplace. The order can also direct them to stay away from your children’s school or daycare. Restraining orders are free and available to anyone, regardless of their immigration status.

You’ll need to go to your local courthouse and fill out the necessary paperwork to get a restraining order. The forms will ask you to describe the abuse and why you need protection from your abuser. Once you’ve filed the documents, a judge will review them and decide whether or not to issue the restraining order. If the judge grants the order, it will be served to your abuser by the sheriff or police. Once your abuser has been served, they must obey the terms of the restraining order, or they can be arrested.

Seek Support from Friends and Family

Friends and family can be great sources of support when experiencing domestic violence or abuse. They can offer a safe place to stay, help with expenses, child care, and emotional support. If you’re not ready to tell your friends or family about the abuse, you can still talk to them about what’s going on in your life. Let them know if you’re feeling unsafe or scared. You can also ask them to keep an eye out for signs of abuse, like bruises or changes in your behavior.

Seek Help from a Domestic Violence Shelter

Domestic violence shelters offer safe housing for victims of domestic violence and their children. The staff can also provide other services, like legal assistance, counseling, and financial help. If you’re thinking about leaving your relationship, call a domestic violence hotline to find a shelter in your area. The hotline can also provide information about other resources, like legal assistance and counseling.

When you’re ready to leave, try to have a safety plan. This might include arranging for a safe place to stay, getting extra money, and making copies of important documents. Be aware that domestic violence shelters are often full, so you may not be able to get in right away. If this is the case, the hotline can help you find another safe place to stay.


You don’t have to suffer in silence. Many people and organizations can help you if you’re experiencing domestic violence or abuse. Seek out the resources and support you need to keep yourself safe. You can also call a domestic violence hotline to be connected with resources in your area, including counselors who specialize in helping survivors of domestic violence.

Allen Brown

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