Domestic violence against you or other family members isn’t something you should allow to continue. Many people stay in chronically abusive relationships because they believe the person harming them can change, or sometimes even that the suffering inflicted on them is deserved. Neither of these beliefs is healthy or even remotely correct.

Domestic abuse perpetrators very rarely change their ways, and you never deserve to be a victim of violence in your own home. As soon as you notice a pattern of abuse beginning to emerge, whether it involves physical violence or not, you need to be prepared to get away from that situation before it becomes worse. There is a long list of murder victims who delayed that decision because they still had hope that things would get better without taking action. It’s a tragic mistake that you must avoid at all costs.

1. When there is an immediate threat to you, direct escape should be your first thought
If the threat to you is imminent and could happen at any moment, you should get out of the house without delay. You can figure out what to do after that. If you wait until you’re injured or if you give your abuser an opportunity to cut off any escape route, the physical danger to you increases drastically.

In this situation, you should not concern yourself with thoughts about protecting your assets or material possessions. Safe-guarding your life is more important. Do not make any verbal threats such as “I’m leaving” or “I’m calling the police”, because these may escalate the situation. Simply leave.

After fleeing the house, you will have to make some quick decisions. If you have a cell phone with you, call the police, report the domestic violence situation, and request help. Do not return to the house or inform the occupant that you have called the police. If you don’t have a phone, get to one. A neighbor or trusted friend will usually be willing to help you, but obviously use some common sense and don’t endanger yourself further by being too trusting of a stranger.

2. If you have physical injuries, seek medical help quickly
Injuries may be more serious than they seem, and if left untreated, they could get worse. Also, if you delay getting medical help, the physical signs of these injuries may fade, which could harm future legal action you may want to take concerning this incident.

3. Get in touch with a domestic violence support agency
There are many different resources available in this category. The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 is one option. Local agencies may be able to respond more quickly, but may not necessarily be available at all hours. Unfortunately it has sometimes happened that men seeking help have experienced discrimination from police or others working with domestic violence issues. This is unlawful, and if it happens to you, you should take note of as much detail as you can, and report it to your lawyer.

4. Get legal assistance
Once you’re safe from any immediate threat to your person, you need to re-establish your rights and take care of any assets you may have. You will almost certainly have a claim to support payments or compensation from the person you are fleeing from, and a restraining order issued by the court is essential.

Leading domestic violence attorneys, Carlsbad based Fischer & Van Thiel, suggest that the sooner you speak with a lawyer, the more chance you have of obtaining a successful outcome. Delays or hesitation in seeking assistance can potentially diminish your legal position and the evidence you can bring to bear against your attacker. Act quickly and decisively, because it’s the only safe option.