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I'm in an abusive relationship. What are my options?

The ideal relationship is built on love and respect for one another, but unfortunately, many Georgia residents have experienced partnerships where they have feared for their lives. Many domestic violence victims are afraid to report incidents because they don't want the authorities involved in their personal lives. However, it's important for victims to understand their options so they can protect themselves and their children.

It's always a good idea to call 911 if the safety of yourself or your loved ones is in danger. You can make the call even if the abuser hasn't harmed you, but is threatening to do so. If police come to the home, the abuser could be arrested and face other punishment for his or her actions. If in doubt, it may be better to call - as it's better to be safe than sorry.

If you need to leave the environment immediately, see if you can stay with family or close friends. If you have none in the area, try contacting a domestic violence agency in your area. They should be able to help you find a shelter, motel room or other place to stay temporarily. If the situation is not dire, you may want to start planning ahead. You can start by creating a safety plan. Call National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for assistance.

Once you leave the situation, you might find that your abuser is still trying to locate you or harass you. A restraining order can keep him or her away from you and offer some peace of mind. If you are being abused, it's important take immediate action and take the steps necessary for protection. Don't delay - after all, serious cases of physical abuse could be a matter of life and death. However, domestic violence can also involve emotional abuse, sexual abuse or stalking. An Atlanta family lawyer can offer guidance to families affected by domestic violence.

Source: FindLaw, "How to stop domestic violence," accessed July 4, 2015

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