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Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Planning Is Key To Getting Out Safely

October 28, 2008

Nashville, TN – Planning is the key to getting out of an abusive relationship safely. During "Domestic Violence Awareness Month," experts say the most dangerous time to leave is in the midst of a violent episode, when emotions are running high.

Vice President of Programs Pamela Sessions, with the YWCA of Middle Tennessee, says statistics show more people are killed by their abusers when they try to flee without having a safety plan.

"They want to leave the relationship, but they're not ready at the time. So, this will give us an opportunity to help them do that safety planning so we can decrease the danger of the situation at the time they're trying to leave."

Child advocates say helping children in violent home situations can also be difficult. In the United States, between 10 and 20 percent of children are exposed to adult domestic violence; however, helping them often includes separating them, even from the nonviolent parent. Beth Davis-Pratt, on the Child Welfare and Mental Health Team of the Children's Defense Fund, says separating the family members is not always in a youngster's best interest.

"It's a better situation when it's safe to enable the child to not have to be removed from the parent, to keep them out of the unnecessary foster care, but ensure that they're getting the proper therapy and services."

People who want to leave violent relationships should seek the help of professionals, adds Sessions. She says it's important for friends and loved ones to simply listen and be supportive.

Barbara Dab/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - TN