Develop a plan with your safety and that of your children as your highest priority. In addition to meeting with an attorney at your first opportunity, develop a safety plan in the event you and your children need to escape your home.  A great way to do this is to let in support from an agency that helps victims of domestic violence. Call the Women Against Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the web site at http://www.thehotline.org to get more information about the domestic violence program closest to you. Your risk of harm from an abusive spouse increases when you leave.  For this reason, all actions must be taken with safety as the first concern.

Find a lawyer who understands domestic violence.  Often your local domestic violence agency can help with a referral. Talk to your lawyer about the concerns for your safety and that of your children. Ask your lawyer about a domestic violence restraining order.  This is a court order which may offer a number of protections. These could include granting you temporary custody of your children for up to one year and ordering your spouse to leave the family residence and have no contact with you.

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