Domestic Violence - Safety Plans

As a victim of domestic violence, a safety plan is essential. What is yours or your friend's?

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How is intimate partner violence treated?

Getting and keeping the victim of domestic violence safe is an essential part of treating domestic abuse. Many legal and mental-health professionals who work with victims recommend the development of safety plans, both for home and in the workplace. Such a plan includes encouraging the victim to keep a charged cell phone in his or her possession at all times, maintaining active peace, protective, or restraining orders against the batterer, keeping a copy of the order at all times, along with distributing copies of the order to the victim's supervisor, workplace reception area, and security, as well as to schools and day-care providers for children. It is important for battered men and women to realize that abusers sometimes escalate in their abusiveness when first served with a protective order and to take appropriately heightened safety precautions. Other elements of a safety plan may include the victim changing his or her work site, parking, or work schedule, having an emergency contact person, and establishing danger signals to alert neighbors or coworkers that the victim is in immediate danger.

One well-known approach to treating domestic abuse families is the Duluth Model. It is also called the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project (DAIP) and focuses on women as the victims and men as the perpetrators of intimate partner violence. This treatment model takes the approach of empowering women by providing them information, resources, and support, which has been found to significantly decrease the violence in victims' lives over time. It also uses legal resources as a means of keeping women safe and giving consequences to male batterers. Regarding specific treatment for batterers, compliance with multiple treatment sessions may decrease the likelihood that domestic violence perpetrators repeat the behavior but these results continue to require study due to the small numbers of perpetrators studied so far.

Having professionals provide victims of domestic violence with information about domestic-violence shelters and other housing, financial, and other service supports in the community has been found to greatly decrease the amount of violence that victims of intimate partner abuse experience after leaving the abuser. For couples with whom alcoholism or other excessive alcohol use is an issue, marital therapy that has alcoholism as a focus has also been found to be effective.

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