Abusers do a lot of different things to abuse their victims. Abuse is never ok. You have a right to be safe.
Abuse can be physical or emotional. Not all abuse is against the law, but all abuse is wrong. You can get help and protect yourself if your abuser abuses you physically or physically and emotionally.
It is very hard to get a Relief from Abuse Order if all the abuse is emotional. If this is your situation, check the information under “Getting Help” below.
Here are some examples of physical abuse:
- holding you down
Here are some examples of emotional abuse:
- calling you names
- not letting you go where you want to
- not letting you call or see friends or family
Anyone can be a victim of abuse. It doesn’t matter if you are rich or poor, what race you are, how old you are, what gender you are, or where you live.
You are not alone. You can reach out to people and groups who help victims stay safe. We have a list of these groups in “Getting Help” below.
There are many groups that can help you. There are also laws to protect victims from being abused. First, we list some agencies and groups that can help you. Then we explain the laws that protect victims and how you can use the laws to protect yourself.
Domestic violence groups
There are sixteen domestic violence groups in Vermont. The Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence is a statewide group that works for abuse victims. Find your local domestic violence group here. Or call:
- Vermont Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-228-7395
- Vermont Sexual Violence Hotline: 1-800-489-7273
Domestic violence groups can help you make a safety plan and give you emotional support. Most programs have advocates who can guide you through the Relief from Abuse process and offer emotional support at court. They may be able to give you financial help so you can stay in a motel, pay for day care, pay for transportation, or even pay a security deposit for housing. Each domestic violence group is different. Contact your local group to find out how they can help you.
Police / law enforcement
Nobody has the right to abuse you. You can call the police if someone physically hurts you or tries to hurt you. You don’t have to call the police right when the person hurts you, but it’s best to call as soon as you can. You can call 911 or call your local police station.
Some abuse is a crime. The state may prosecute your abuser in criminal court.
Did someone scare you by what they said or did to you? You can report this to the police. The police may not be able to do anything, but it can be good to tell the police now in case the problem gets worse later.
If you want, get medical care as soon as possible for any injury. Bring copies of your medical records to the court for your final hearing if you ask for a Relief from Abuse Order. Before giving the records to the court, make sure that your Social Security Number is completely crossed out.
You can contact us. Fill out our form and we will call you back. Your information will be sent to Legal Services Vermont, which screens requests for help for both Vermont Legal Aid and Legal Services Vermont. You can also call us at 1-800-889-2047. If your abuser has access to your computer, call us instead of using the online form.
You can view a list of other legal clinics and projects around Vermont on the Vermont Bar Association website. Find the link under Other Resources on this VBA web page.
Adult Protective Services
Are you a senior citizen? Do you have a disability? Are you being abused? Vermont has an agency called Adult Protective Services. It’s their job to protect vulnerable adults from abuse. You may qualify for help from them. They can explain your options and may investigate your abuse.
Elder abuse resources
Adult Protective Services helps seniors who are being abused or exploited. The Vermont Attorney General's Office also has a guide for seniors called “Finding Help: Abuse, Exploitation and Neglect in Later Life.” It describes many help options in Vermont, including helplines, domestic and sexual violence organizations, case managers and social workers, restorative justice centers, healthcare providers, religious leaders and peer support.