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Domestic violence victims may seek help in many ways

Each state and county has a number of outreach programs for those who experience domestic abuse. There are a number of ways in which this issue is being tackled. A growing number of family justice centers across the United States, almost 20 percent of which are in California, have been designed to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to access help from multiple agencies by visiting just one source.

Domestic violence can take many forms. One thinks perhaps of physical violence first; however, it is now recognized that non-verbal, emotional and psychological abuse is equally dangerous. The damage that one person can inflict upon another is so great that it can paralyze a victim with fear to the point that he or she feels defenseless against it. In addition to this, victims have often been isolated by their abuser from friends and family who might provide support or encouragement to leave the relationship, making it harder still to have the courage to approach even one agency for help.

Although each center will have variations, most will have access to a variety of services. It may seem overwhelming at first, but victims do not have to avail themselves of all the services on offer. A person who is traumatized may only wish to seek shelter initially, being too afraid to involve police or talk to counselors. Similarly, they may not yet have the courage to leave the abusive relationship, but they may feel able to discuss the possibility and get advice on the best way for them to proceed.

In California, there are a number of options available to a victim of domestic violence who has summoned the courage to change his or her situation. A restraining order may be one such option, perhaps to provide some breathing space and allow one time to explore further avenues. Seeking appropriate advice and guidance at this time can be an empowering experience, and it may help to boost one's determination to move forward.

Source: bakersfieldcalifornian.com, "Kern seeks to consolidate domestic violence services", Courtenay Edelhart, Sep. 20, 2014

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