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What to Do When Love Turns Violent

What to Do When Love Turns Violent

by Marian Betancourt, Robert E. McAfee (Introduction)
In this country, a woman is physically abused every nine seconds. One in four women is battered by a husband or boyfriend. One third of all female homicide victims are killed by their domestic partners. These are only some of the shocking statistics that led the American Medical Association to proclaim domestic violence a public health issue as well as lend their


In this country, a woman is physically abused every nine seconds. One in four women is battered by a husband or boyfriend. One third of all female homicide victims are killed by their domestic partners. These are only some of the shocking statistics that led the American Medical Association to proclaim domestic violence a public health issue as well as lend their imprimatur to this book.

What to Do When Love Turns Violent    is a guide to help women break free from violence. Much has been published on the psychological and social ramifications of domestic violence but until now there has been nothing available to help women conquer the immediate obstacle of getting out and staying out of danger. What to Do When Love Turns Violent is a source of hard facts to help women seek protection through law enforcement and the justice system, get assistance from the healthcare system and find answers to their questions. It details what they may expect at each step as they devise their "exit plan."

As the issue of domestic violence finally gets the attention it deserves, more and more women will seek solutions. Consulting this sourcebook is their crucial first step.

If you are an abused woman or know someone who is, What to Do When Love Turns Violent   is the most practical, indispensable resource for you to end the abuse. Coming from someone who has been there and survived, this book arms you with everything you need to know to make the right choices. The first part spells out an action plan to get out of danger and find immediate help

—Making a protective order work

— Calling thepolice

— Finding safe shelter

— Seeking medicalattention

— Pressing charges

—Getting financial assistance

The secondpart details how to stay safe and regain control over your life

— Preparing for safety at home and on the job

— Protecting your children

— Ending the relationship

— Rebuilding your life

For quick reference, What to Do When Love Turns Violent  includes a state-by-state directory of domestic violence hot lines and a listing of the national organizations devoted to helping victims of domestic violence. Consulting this sourcebook is the crucial first step tobreaking the cycle of domestic violence. There is help out there, and What to Do WhenLove Turns Violent  empowers you to find it and take back your life.

Marian Betancourt was married to an abusive man but broke free from the violence. She has been a professional writer for more than 20 years and is the co-author of several books about women's health issues, including What to Do If You Get Breast Cancer.

Author Biography: Marian Betancourt has written several books about women's health and is the author of What to Do When Love Turns Violent (HarperCollins, 1997), which The New York Times called "the single best resource on the subject." She lectures on domestic violence and has appeared on radio and television shows including the Oprah Winfrey Show. A new edition of the book will be published in 1999. Her other books include What to Do If You Get Breast Cancer (Little, Brown, 1995), Chronic Illness and the Family (Adams, 1996), What to Do If You Get Colon Cancer (Wiley, 1997), and The Prostate Cancer Sourcebook (Wiley, 1998). She is a member of the Author's Guild and the American Society of Journalists and Authors. She is a native New Yorker and lives in Brooklyn.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.34(w) x 8.01(h) x 0.69(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Domestic violence is a federal crime. As new laws are more consistently applied, this fact will sink into society's consciousness, although it may take a bit longer before men shake the belief that they are entitled to push women around and get away with it. Nevertheless, the law is now on our side, and there is an ever-widening network of help available: police, courts, hospitals, and domestic violence shelters. For most women the way into that network begins with the police. Calling 911 sets the criminal justice system in motion when you are assaulted, terrorized, or stalked by your abusive intimate partner.

Emerging Police Protocols
As a result of the 1994 federal anticrime bill, which included the Violence Against Women Act, most police and sheriff's departments now have written protocols for domestic violence. Law-enforcement officers are required to keep you safe if you are being abused by your intimate partner and to act as liaisons in a network of interventions to help you get away from the abuse. And now in most states they must arrest your abusive partner.
If police fail to keep you safe, they are liable. This liability grew out of a class-action suit in California in 1977 in which three female attorneys sued the Oakland Police Department and the city of Oakland on behalf of women abused by violent men. This suit, the first in the domestic violence movement, resulted in new police procedures, police training, and city funding for local domestic violence shelters. In 1985 a woman in Torrington, Connecticut, won a $2-million settlement from the city for failure of the police department to protect her from her husband'sviolence. This case, the first tried in federal court, was a catalyst in Connecticut's passage of the 1986 Family Violence and Response Act, which now mandates arrest in domestic violence cases when probable cause exists.
The 1994 Violence Against Women Act resulted from years of persistent lobbying by women's groups. Its passage created Justice Department funding to local communities to train the police and the courts in the realities of domestic violence, and to coordinate efforts to help women to safety. It also provided for the national domestic violence hot line, launched in 1996, so that a woman anywhere in the United States can be connected to the resources she needs to get away from a violent partner.

A New Police Sensitivity
Federal funds have helped develop domestic violence protocols in about half the nation's police departments and sheriff's offices. In large metropolitan areas, police department specialists in community affairs and crime prevention have been joined by domestic violence officers, whose job is to help you get the social and human services you need. However, in some communities these officers are not always on duty at night or on weekends, when many domestic violence incidents take place. (Sunday night is the most common time for domestic violence according to a study of their state by the New Jersey Coalition for Battered Women.)
In many communities where police have taken domestic violence seriously, their response has generally been applauded. In their first year of operation--with the help of federal grants--the Domestic Violence Unit of the Metro Nashville Police Department investigated eighteen thousand domestic violence calls and reduced Nashville's domestic homicide rate by 71 percent. In the New York City Police Department, a domestic violence police program began in 1983, but it was not until 1994--eleven years later--that all precincts were required to have a domestic violence officer. Whether or not there are domestic violence specialists in your community, all officers must follow the new rules.
In rural areas the reality may be different. While police may be just as concerned and cooperative, their availability might be limited by the great distances and isolation. You might be served by a single county sheriff or deputy, or have to rely on state police. If you live in a remote corner of a districtwith only one officer and another crime is happening at the same time, you may never get emergency help when you need it. It is therefore essential to develop a safety plan and be connected to a network of advocates who can help.

What to Tell the Police When You Call
If you are in immediate danger, always call 911 and try to give as much information as you can. The more the police know before they arrive, the more effective they will be. In a handful of communities, the police dispatcher can run a computer background check immediately in order to let the responding officers know whether there have been similar calls to your address in the past, if an order of protection is in effect, or if a gun is registered to anyone. Although police computer networks are improving--in Hawaii there is a model plan to have computers in the police cars--most background checking goes through channels at the police station or the state capital or a central registry during normal business hours.
Most of this information is determined later, after the police have filed a report at the station house, so the more information you can provide, the better they can help you.
Try to tell them
*if you and your abuser are at the same location
*if you are being threatened with a weapon
*if there are children present
*if the assault is still in progress
*if a protective order exists
*if anyone has been using drugs or drinking
*how badly you or anyone else is injured
*if you are disabled

What People are Saying About This

Peter Glick
"This book should be in every library and a part of everyone's consciousness."
Jane E. Brody
"Possible the single best resource....provides detailed advice and helpful sources to aid in every aspect of escape."

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