Editor: Gregory M. Chase, MS, MSHED, PA-C
The Georgia code defines domestic violence as any felony, battery, simple battery, simple assault, assault, stalking, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint and criminal trespass between past or present spouses, persons who are parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children and persons living or formerly living in the same household. (O.C.G.A. §19-13-1)
Domestic violence is a pattern of battering behavior used to establish power and control over an intimate partner or family member. It not only involves punching or hitting but also can include sexual, psychological, or emotional abuse. One can be a victim without exhibiting any obvious physical injuries.
Domestic Violence in Georgia in 1996: Georgia Family Violence Shelters provided services to a total of 22,682 adults and 14,120 children. Over 52,000 calls were made to crisis lines. 64% of victims are married to the men that abuse them.
Domestic violence tends to follow a cycle of three phases. In the first, tension, arguing, and anger escalates between the couple. In the second, the arguing crosses the line into abuse, which can be physical, sexual or emotional. The aim of the behavior is an attempt by the abuser to gain power and control over the victim. Following the violent episode, the "honeymoon phase" occurs in which the batterer may make excuses for the behavior, promise to change, or apologize. Often the honeymoon phase becomes shorter, and frequently the abuse escalates if the victim attempts to leave the relationship.
Many victims believe the promises made during the honeymoon phase. Often they believe the violence will not occur again, the abuser is capable of changing, or they can somehow alter the abuser's behavior. Many victims are reluctant to seek help for a variety of reasons.
Call the police. Just because you were or are married or living with someone does not give them the right to threaten or abuse you.
Seek medical attention. Go to the emergency room, your doctor or the hospital for treatment, particularly if you have been choked. You could have injuries that you are not aware of.
Leave, if you can. There are Battered Women's shelters available.
What to take with you when you leave:
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