Breaking Free From Domestic Violence

Authored By: Legal Services Alabama

Nobody has the right to hit you. It is a crime.

Domestic violence is any felony, battery, assault, criminal damage to property, unlawful restraint, or criminal trespass between past and present spouses, parents of the same child, parents and children, stepparents and stepchildren, foster parents and foster children, or other persons living or formerly living in the same household.


Safety First


Plan how to get out of your house safely. Find out where you can go if you need shelter—family, friends or battered women's shelter. Get some money and clothes together and give them to a friend to keep for you. Teach your children to call 911. Ask your neighbors to call the police if they hear violent arguments. Know where important documents are so you can take them with you.


If an argument is unavoidable, try to be in a room that has an exit and is away from where weapons can be found.

When violence occurs, call the police immediately. When they arrive, tell them what happened. Show them any injuries you have and any property that was damaged. Make sure they make a report. They should give you a case number so that you can get a copy of the report. Ask for and write down the names of the officers.

The police may arrest your abuser. If your abuser is taken into custody, use this time to get yourself and your children to a safe place.

Go to a domestic violence shelter. Call the Alabama Statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-650-6522 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to find the nearest shelter. If you are deaf, call the TTY number, 1-800-787-3224. They can help you take legal action, set up a long term safety plan, provide temporary housing and help obtain other community assistance.

If you decide to leave—REMEMBER—Be careful when leaving. It is a dangerous time. Take action to protect yourself by doing things like screening your calls, changing the locks on your home, avoiding being alone, notifying schools and contacts, and varying your routine.

Medical Attention

See a doctor if you have any injuries. Tell the doctor how you were injured. Take pictures of your injuries as bruises may not show for several days. Ask for copies of your medical record.

Legal Action

You have two choices: civil or criminal. You can use both at the same time. Please see the separate fact sheet about legal actions you can take to protect yourself.

Financial Assistance

Money is often the biggest problem for women leaving violent homes. You should look into the following:

Child Support This can be ordered by the Court. You can go to the Office of Child Support Enforcement and ask them to help you get child support. There is a fee if you are not on TANF.

TANF You may be eligible for Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) if you have children. Check with your local DHR office. As a victim of abuse, you may be excused from certain requirements.

Emergency Shelter Family violence shelters may be able to provide temporary shelter for you and your children. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) to find the nearest shelter.

Food Stamps/SNAP You may be eligible for food stamps/SNAP whether or not you have children. Check with the local DHR office.

Medical Assistance You and your children may be eligible for Medicaid. You need to check with DHR. If you earn too much for Medicaid then your children may be eligible for ALLKids.

Public Housing You may be eligible for public housing. If you have been forced out of your home because of family violence you may qualify for emergency consideration. Tell the local housing authority about your situation when you apply.


Domestic violence programs often offer support groups and counseling to help you.

Other Information

Brochures and information on domestic violence, divorce, public benefits, child custody, child support, and landlord-tenant law and consumer rights are available from your local Legal Services office and on

No one deserves to be abused offers legal information, not legal advice. This website provides information on your rights and options. However, the site does not apply the law to your personal facts. For legal advice, you should call a lawyer. To apply for free legal services in Alabama, call the Legal Services Alabama office that is closest to where you live OR call toll-free 1-866-456-4995. You can also apply online HERE.

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