You don't deserve to be hurt by your partner

If you are being hit, pushed, slapped, beaten, punched, kicked, or in any way hurt or threatened by your partner, you are not alone. Sadly, many women are abused by a husband, boyfriend, or ex-partner. Abusive partners are usually very jealous. They may try to control what you wear, what you buy, where you go, and whom you visit. Although they may apologize after fits of rage, abusers are likely to hurt you again and again. Over time, the abuse gets worse.

Financial concerns, religious beliefs, children, and both love and fear of the partner are just some of the many things that make it hard to leave an abusive relationship. Even if you are not ready to leave the relationship, start thinking about your safety and what to do in case of an emergency.

The following safety tips can help you.

Let someone know what is happening to you. Abuse is NOT entitled to privacy.
Teach your children to dial 911 during an emergency.
Remove weapons from your home. If a gun must remain in the home, make sure it has a safety lock on it.
Keep a copy of important papers such as rent receipts, birth certificates, insurance policies, and important phone numbers with a friend or family member.
Keep extra items such as clothes for you and your children, car keys, house keys, etc., with a friend or family member.
Memorize or keep available the numbers of local emergency shelter as well as domestic violence and child abuse hotlines.
Notify your children's school about the problem to protect your children's safety.
Hide some money. A woman, for example, can hide money in a tampon container and keep it in her purse.
If possible, open your own bank account. If you need to leave immediately, do whatever you can to take your children with you.
If you cannot remember the phone number of the domestic violence hotline or the nearest shelter, dial 411 for that information.
Avoid drugs and alcohol, which may slow your reflexes and impair your judgment.
If you have visible injuries, show them to a doctor or nurse. He or she can photograph the injuries to provide documentation.
Even if you do not have visible injuries, describe incidents of abuse to your doctor or nurse. A statement in the medical chart will be helpful in the even of a custody battle.
If you have a restraining order, keep it with you at all times.

National Domestic Violence Hotline
(800) 799-SAFE
(800) 787-3224 (TTY)
National Child Abuse Hotline
(800) 422-4453

Source: Janice Asher, MD, Director, Women's Health and Student Health Services Department and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Founder and Director, Physicians' and Nurses' Domestic Abuse program; and Clinical Director, Philadelphia Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Courtesy of Janice Asher, Nancy Sugg, Elba Crespo. Detection and treatment of domestic violence. Contemporary Ob/Gyn 2001;9:62-72.