Domestic violence happens to all kinds of people in North Carolina regardless of culture, class, religion, sexual orientation, marital status, or age. In fact, about 1 in 3 women in America have been physically or sexually abused by their husband or boyfriend at least once in their lives. It doesn’t just happen to “other people.” No one deserves to be abused, but it can happen to anyone.
Emotional Trauma from Domestic Violence
Beyond physical injury or even death, victims of domestic violence can sustain significant emotional trauma, stemming with the feelings of vulnerability and personal violation. As time progresses, a roller coaster of other emotions can manifest, leaving a victim to question his or her own mental stability. These emotions are perfectly normal. In fact, there are seven basic stages of emotions that victims of any type of crime tend to experience.
- Detachment. Though these emotions can come to the surface in any order, the empty feeling of shock and numbness usually occurs in the initial stages.
- Denial. Somewhat similar to detachment, this is the brain’s way of safeguarding you temporarily while you work to fully acknowledge and accept your trauma.
- Fear. When someone has violated your trust and caused you harm, it is a natural reaction for you to feel paranoid and mistrust others as well. With a little time, help from others, and a good plan for personal safety, these feelings will begin to subside.
- Anger. It is natural to want to seek revenge on the person that hurt you. This rage may cause you to lash out at others. Find a safe way to vent like exercising, hitting a punching bag, or even screaming into a pillow.
- Grief/Depression. Suffering abuse can leave you feeling hopeless and disillusioned. You may lose interest in things you used to be passionate about. Grief usually comes on in peaks and valleys. When it comes on strong, don’t run from it. It is part of the healing process.
- Guilt. Being the victim of abuse can often leave you wondering why it happened. In order to make sense of the world, sometimes your brain can come to the conclusion that it was your own fault somehow. No one deserves abuse, and the only person to blame is the perpetrator.
- Acceptance. Acceptance is the emotion that seems impossible at first. When something horrible happens, often the only thing you are capable of feeling is loss. However, there will eventually come a point in time when you realize that many other things remain in your life, and inner peace will make it’s way back in.
Why Don’t People in Abusive Relationships Just Leave?
One of the most common questions people ask about victims of domestic violence is “Why don’t they just leave?” The assumption is that victims are just too pathetic and weak minded to advocate for themselves, but the situation is usually much more complicated than that.
How easy would it be for you to walk out of your house right now and never go back? Do you have several (hidden) suitcases packed up with your necessary belongings? Where are you going to stay? Do you have a new home waiting for you? Can you and your kids stay with a friend or relative indefinitely? Maybe you were a stay at home parent. How will you pay bills? Do you have a new job lined up? Do you have your own car? Is it considered theft to take a car that is in your spouse’s name? Is your abusive partner going to fly off the handle? Is leaving suddenly going to reflect badly on you when it comes to child custody, since you are the one who “abandoned” your family?
These are all frightening questions for the bravest among us to ponder. Now add to it the fact that abusers tend to keep their victims isolated from friends and family and watch over their every move like a hawk, and escaping probably doesn’t seem so easy any more. For those brave enough to leave, the problems have only just begun, but there are resources available to help.
Resources for Domestic Violence Victims
There are a variety of non-profit, for profit, and state run organizations that provide various services to victims of domestic violence. This is not an all-inclusive list, and it should be stated that anyone in immediate danger should call 911 or your local police department.
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP)
The Address Confidentiality Program (ACP) is a free program that can provide confidential address service to victims of domestic abuse and stalking. It is administered by the North Carolina Attorney General’s office. As an ACP participant, you are provided with a substitute address, usually a PO box, free of charge. The ACP forwards all first class, certified, or registered mail to you at your private residential address. Your substitute address becomes the address of public record, which can be used for official government services such as applying for a driver’s license. ACP participants will be given an ACP Authorization Card that can be used when an address is required.
To apply, call the Address Confidentiality Program at (919) 716-6785. You will be referred to a domestic violence program near you, where you will meet with an application assistant and develop an overall safety plan. After completing an application, you should usually receive your ACP Authorization card within 10 business days.
North Carolina Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification (SAVAN)
The North Carolina Statewide Automated Victim Assistance and Notification system is a 24 hour information and notification system governed through the NC Department of Public Safety that provides free offender data to the public. Victims can call 877-NC SAVAN to learn an offender’s status, and learn of important events like if an offender is to be released from prison. With SAVAN you can register to receive automated notifications on an offender’s status by email or telephone, and you can also learn about additional victim assistance resources in the area. Notifications are available in English and Spanish. For more information, visit http://www.ncdps.gov/document/nc-savan-program.
NC Victim Compensation Program
Victims Compensation Services is a program in North Carolina that can reimburse victims of domestic violence or crime for a variety of expenses including:
- medical expenses
- lost wages
The program is a “payer of last resort,” meaning it will help pay for expenses not covered by other sources such as insurance, workers compensation, Medicaid, or restitution. A maximum of $30,000 may be provided for medical expenses, and up to $5,000 may be provided for funeral expenses if the victim dies because of the crime. Pain, suffering, and damaged or stolen property are not covered by the program. For more information, call NC Victims Compensation Services at (800) 826-6200 or (919) 733-7974.
InterAct of Wake County
InterAct began in the 1980’s when three Wake county agencies merged: Rape Crisis Center, Women’s Aid, and Child Abuse Prevention Services. It is a private, non-profit, United Way agency that provides a wide variety of services to survivors of domestic violence including:
- 24 hour crisis lines
- Court advocacy
- Children’s services
- Latino community services
- Community education and outreach
- Youth education services
- Thrift stores
- Hospital response and solace center
The services provided by InterAct are free and confidential. To learn more, visit www.InterActofWake.org or call their main office line at (919) 828-7501.
North Carolina Victim Assistance Network (NC VAN)
The North Carolina Victim Assistance Network is a nonprofit organization that provides support and information for crime victims across NC and advocates for their recovery and fair treatment. They provide info on over 1,500 criminal justice agencies, assistance programs, and advocacy groups. NCVAN links victims to assistance available in their communities, provides information on laws about vicims’ rights, educates the public on crime prevention and intervention, and promotes meaningful change in the criminal justice system. For more information, visit http://nc-van.org or call (800) 348-5068.
Contact a Cary Domestic Violence Attorney
The Cary domestic violence attorneys at Alexander & Doyle, P.A. have been helping people overcome the challenges of domestic violence for over two decades. Call us today at 919-380-1001 or fill out the form below to discuss how we can help you with the obstacles you may face inside and outside of the court room.