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How to recognize domestic violence and where you can get help

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, you need to know is that there are ways to get help - and you are never alone.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Editor's Note: The above video is from 2019.

As many as 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men are victims of domestic violence every year, according to data from the National Institutes of Health.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic violence situation, the first thing you need to know is that there are ways to get help - you are never alone.

How to recognize signs of domestic abuse

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell what qualifies as domestic abuse. The legal definition covers many types of acts committed by current or former intimate partners against another or within a family, according to the Office of the Attorney General for Kentucky

The National Center for Biotechnology Information breaks violence abuse down into eight types:

  1. Stalking 
  2. Economic 
  3. Emotional 
  4. Psychological 
  5. Sexual 
  6. Neglect 
  7. Munchausen by proxy 
  8. Physical 

Domestic violence can also include threats, such as threatening to commit suicide or take children away from you.

What can I do?

If you are in a domestic violence situation and you cannot immediately remove yourself from it, you need to have a plan in place to reduce the chance of harm to yourself or your loved ones. Or, if you do have an opportunity to leave, you need to make sure that you have what you need to live apart from your abuser.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information and the National Domestic Violence Hotline (through the National Center for Victims of Crime) have resources on creating a safety plan. Here are some of their suggestions:

  • Avoid arguments in small rooms or rooms without access to an outside door.    
  • Ask friends/neighbors to call the police if they hear suspicious noises. 
  • Keep weapons like guns and knives locked away and as inaccessible as possible.  
  • Install safety devices, such as security cameras, extra locks, and smoke detectors, in your home. 
  • Develop escape routes through doors, windows, and fire escapes and practice those routes when you are able. 
  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse, including taking pictures of injuries. 
  • Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events, and threats made.

There are also resources for children and pets - those are available here.

Once you are in a safe place, you can file a criminal complaint or a civil complaint. 

According to the NCFBI, 40% of domestic violence victims never contact police. Without treatment, that violence usually recurs and escalates.

Kentucky has a mandatory information and referral provision, meaning that a professional can contact law enforcement if you ask them to. You can also contact law enforcement if you believe that you are in a dangerous situation.

Click here for more information on how to file a complaint in Kentucky.

Where can I go?

If you need immediate help with a domestic violence situation, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800-799-SAFE) at any time or call the police. 

In Kentucky and Indiana, there are plenty of places where you can get help. 

Center for Women and Families: 1-844-237-2331 (24-hour hotline) 

  • Locations list
  • Louisville: 502-581-7200 (business line) 502-581-7222 (crisis line) 
  • New Albany: 812-944-6743 (business line); 812-944-6743 (crisis line) 

Domestic violence shelters in Kentucky (through Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence)

Crisis Connection (Jasper, IN)

Turning Point (Columbus, IN)

KY Domestic Violence Association - 502-209-5382 

KY Coalition Against Domestic Violence - 502-209-5382 

KY Cabinet for Health and Family Services

  • Child/Adult Protective Services Reporting System: 1-877-597-2331 
  • Adult Abuse Hot Line (toll-free) 1-800-752-6200 or 1-877-597-2331 

KY Association of Sexual Assault Programs - (866) 375-2727 

Indiana State Hotline1-800-332-7385

National resources:

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) 

National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-8255 

National Sexual Assault Hotline - 1-800-656-4673 

National Child Abuse Hotline 1-800-422-4453 

National Organization for Victim’s Assistance 800-TRY-NOVA 

National Resource Center on Domestic Violence - 800-799-7233 

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