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Survivor’s Guide Created by Victims for Victims

DV Handbook


Table of Contents Table of Contents .................................................................................................. 2 ………………………..…..........12 VII. Final Words from Our Contributors .........................................................................13

DV Handbook




A victim’s journey to survival takes time and is difficult. This guide is for victims of stalking and abuseseeking input on what to do to make sure their voices are heard. The guide was written by survivors who have lived through the pain staking journey with minimal to no support.


A Note from the Founder of Survivors in Action

“Presently, name changesin some instances may be public records even for victims of crime, including victims of domestic violence, who are at a high risk for stalking, continued harassment or even death”. Alexis A. Moore, Founder of Survivors in Action If you are a victim of crime in need of privacy protection you are not alone. Pleasevisit Survivors in Action at for more information.


Tips on Getting Help from Resources

Maria DiBari, founder of and stated, “Sometimes it’s not as easy as reaching out and receiving help. Many victims are turned away, discouraged, and ignored after many attempts to get the help they need. Victims need to think about and define their “needs” first and then make sure appropriate personnel assist them and get them the help they need”.

1. If you are in immediate danger, pleasecall 911.

2. For help finding a domestic violence advocate, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (800) 799-SAFEor (512) 453-8117; TTY (800) 787-3224

3. Create a NeedsList. A NeedsList will include your needs as a victim.

An example of a NeedsList would be:

1. Domestic Violence Divorce Lawyer 2. Shelter 3. Domestic Violence Advocate

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Defining your needs as a victim will enable you to achieve what you want and remain safe. Make sure to keep the list simple, short, and easy to understand. 4. Keep an updated NeedsList and be sure your needs are being met by the resources you are reaching out to. Always remain focused on getting your needs met becauseonce your needs are met, you will be able to obtain safety and freedom.

5. Keep an updated Resource List on hand. A Resource List should include the following:


email addressesfor key contact people below/phone numbers/and addresses)

All Domestic Violence Shelters in your city

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Your State Domestic Violence Coalition

Crime Victims Compensation in your state

Your local Assembly person/Senator

The District Attorney in your city

Legal Aid/other Legal Assistance Resources

Any other state agency or Domestic Violence agency/group in your area and state.

Use the Domestic Violence Template

1. Reach out to Resourcesthrough email using The “Template” for Victims of Violence :

Dear ______, I am a domestic violence victim in need of help and assistance immediately. I am suffering from chronic pain and in need of more surgeries due to my disability caused by abuse. My children are in trouble and continue to get beaten by my abuser. I can't pay child support because I do not have a job, I do not have the ability to work due to my disability. I am suffering and need help. I need the following, or I face possible jail time because I can't pay child support and cannot get to court:

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1. DV (Domestic Violence) free lawyer 2. Crime Victims Compensation for my medical expenses and surgeries. 3. Child Protective Services to step in and remove the children from the abuser's home. I have already contacted the following with no help: 1. 2. ....etc. Please respond to this email ASAP, I am in need of assistance and have gotten nowhere in my struggle. Maria DiBari Note: this is an actual letter from a victim of domestic violence

2. After completing the template and making your lists, you will send this letter out through email to all of your Resourceson your Resource List (be sure to copy local public officials on emails you send out to resources so that they too can be involved in the processand offer their own solutions). Using this template will save you and the advocate any confusion about your situation and your needs. Becauseyou have bullet-pointed your needs in a clear list, and have also listed the resources that haven’t worked for you, time will be saved and you will obtain the assistance you need without confusion. The key is to avoid being endlessly referred in circles, and if you are clear and your messageis concise, your needs are more likely to be met in a timely manner. 3. Always keep “paper trails” to and from anyone you send these letters to. Keep organized folders in your email account to avoid any confusion. 4. Be sure to follow up with any agency that offers assistance. The main goal is to get YOURNEEDSMET.

Getting an Order of Protection

According to Maria DiBari, “Getting an order of protection to work for you may be more difficult than many victims of abusethink. Very often, victims leave out details of the crime and important evidence. Before filing a petition with the court, victims need to clearly gather

DV Handbook


their data, evidence, important dates and details together in a clear list. This will ensure an accurate, well-thought-out petition”. The Justice Intervention website cites this definition: “An Order for Protection (OFP)is a court order that will help to protect you from domestic abuse. An Order for Protection tells the abuser to stop harming or threatening you. Domestic abuseis defined as any of the following conduct between family or household members: physical harm, injury, assault, rape, terrorist threats, or making a person fearful of harm or injury or assault. Examples include hitting, kicking, pushing, punching, slapping, pulling hair, choking, holding you down, threatening to harm or kill you or the children, forcing sex (even if you are married), or any sexual contact with a child.” Some other Names for Protection Orders Are : • stay away order • order of no contact • injunction for protection • harassment order • restraining order • stalking protection order • orders not to abuse, harass, contact, etc., that are part of bail, probation, or parole conditions • emergency, temporary, or ex parte order What Is “Full Faith and Cr edit”? The full faith and credit provision of the Violence Against Women Act says that a valid protection order must be enforced everywhere throughout the country. This means that if you get a valid protection order, it is good in the community where you received it as well as in all other jurisdictions or places you go in the United States. This includes protection orders issued in: • all 50 states • Indian tribal lands • District of Columbia • U.S. Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, and Guam Practical Tips for You and Your Domestic Violence Advocate • Review your protection order to make sure that it contains the basic elements for effective enforcement • Get certified copies of your protection order and carry at least one copy with you at all times

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• Deliver copies of your protection order to your school, employer, friends or relatives, and any law enforcement agency that may need to enforce your protection order, if appropriate • Get written proof that the order was served on the abuser from either the law enforcement agency that served the order or the court that issued the order • Keep track of, and report, all of the abuser’s violations, including phone calls and messages sent through other people (do this even if you are the only one to witness the violation of the order, since this will establish a “record” and help law enforcement to take steps to protect you) • Find out about procedures you may have to follow to get your protection order enforced in other communities. This is important becauseprocedures vary • Understand the pros and cons of filing or registering your order in other jurisdictions • Make safety plans • Contact the local domestic violence program in any community you may be going to • Go to a shelter, if necessary • Go to a legal services office for help with other legal matters • Contact other resources you may need

Resources and Help

Here are some organizations that can help you and your advocate. Remember that the phone numbers you call may be traced by the abuser. Take care to use a phone that the abuser cannot check.

Information on Full Faith Credit or to Report Enforcement Problems

Full Faith and Credit Project —(800) 256-5883 ext 2 or (202) 265-0967

General Information on Protection Orders

Battered Woman’s Justice Project —(800) 903-0111ext 2 or (717) 671-4767 (Civil)

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(800) 903-0111 ext 1 or (612) 824-8768) (Criminal)

Tribal Issues

Sacred Circle —(877) 733-7623, (877-REDROAD)or (605) 341-2050

Mending the Sacred Hoop —(888) 305-1650 or (218) 722-2781 ext. 207

Custody Issues

Family Violence Department of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges—(800) 527-5223 or (775) 784-6012

Domestic Violence Commission of the American Bar Association —(202) 662-1737

Victims of Domestic Violence must go to their County Court and ask to file a Family Offense Petition with the County Clerk. You can get an Order of Protection from civil (Family Court/Supreme Court) or criminal court. An Order of Protection will not expire if a victim receives the order as part of a divorce settlement in Supreme Court . If you are a victim going through a divorce, be sure to request an Order through your attorney as part of the divorce settlement.

Follow these steps to file a petition…

1. Gather any evidence related to the crime. This includes threats in the form of writing, emails, text, or any phone conversations or instances of domestic abuse. Gather dates and times and be as specific as possible, including as many details as you can remember.

2. Once you have gathered your evidence, write down a timeline of events with all the details gathered. Seethe example below:

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{Example: Jan. 1, 2010-injury to face and body, verbal death threats made. /April 5, 2010-verbal abuse, threatening text messagereceived at 10pm./ June 10, 2010-visit to the ERdue to injury to the abdomen by abuser.}

3. Clearly and thoughtfully follow your timeline of events and composea detailed description of the crimes that took place in the form of a story. If there were many threats made, include all instances of abuseand threats into one petition and remember to be as specific as possible.

4. Bring the timeline and the composition to the County Clerk and make sure the Clerk records your data into the petition so that the petition is a clear and accurate document.

5. Be sure to call your local shelter in advance and ask for a Domestic Violence Advocate to accompany you to court on your court date. Plan to meet with your advocate before court so that you can obtain free legal representation for your court date.

Crime Victim Compensation for Domestic Violence Victims

Each state has organizations designated to provide services for crime victims. For more information and a map to accessstate specific organizations, pleasevisit

New York State Residents

Maria DiBari also states, “Receiving compensation as a victim of domestic violence in NYSafter abuseis often complicated, time consuming, and difficult, and many victims give up during the application process. Before applying for victim compensation, one must realize that NYS Victims Services only provides compensation to victims as a last resort�.

For more information regarding Crime Victim Compensation or if you are eligible as a victim of a crime, pleasevisit for a detailed description on the services offered.

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Victims can easily print the application off the website or go to their local police station or Domestic Violence Shelter and fill out an application with an officer or advocate. The application for compensation can be found here:

Follow these steps for filling out the application and submitting requests…

1. Fill the application out as best you can.

2. For question 3 on the application, be sure to type or hand write a detailed description of all the crimes that have taken place with all details included in a long summary, much like your Family Offense Petition. Details and timelines, submission of all police reports, and copies of restraining orders and court documents are very important in this section, so be sure to submit a separate sheet of paper for this question with all the details written out neatly. If there were multiple crimes, or instances of abuse, mention all dates of crime in the appropriate space, and be sure to include what injury goes with what date. This is IMPORTANTwhen filing a claim. 3. Make copies of everything and mail your claim to the addresson the application. Waiting for a claim number will take some time, so be sure to call the Additional Medical Unit at 1-800-247-8035 and inquire about the status of your claim and claim number every month.

4. Once you have received a claim number from the NYSVictim Services, you will start to receive “requests” in the mail. Victims must stay persistent, organized, and focused on receiving compensation throughout this time and be sure to stay in contact with the Additional Medical Unit. For each date of crime, collect explanation of benefits for all doctor visits, hospital stays, emergency room visits, and counseling appointments for abuseyou may have received and paid for out of pocket. Collect all receipts from these visits, as well as doctor’s notes describing the abuse, injury and relation to the crime and crime date from all medical institutions. Collect itemized bills from all institutions for any medical expenses/property damage related to the crime. Make copies for yourself and submit paperwork with your claim number on every page to the NYSVictim Services in a neat packet.

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5. Request “Medical Assessment Forms” for every medical institution you were treated at/or will be treated at and are trying to receive compensation for. Personally mail or deliver the forms to all offices that have treated you for domestic abuseand have your doctor’s fill out the assessment form and mail the form back to NYSVictim Services directly, along with any other requested information.

6. Stay neat, very organized, and always make copies of anything you submit to NYS Victim Services for you own personal files. This processcan be long and time consuming, but if you need compensation for a crime, it is well worth the wait and paperwork. The above steps will get you through the whole application processand beyond.

Safety Steps for a Victim of Domestic Violence

In any emergency, pleasecall 911.

Ms. DiBari found, “In many instances, victims feel trapped, unprotected, and unsure of how to protect themselves when living with an abuser. Victims should always have a safety plan ready and trails of evidence of the abuse that is taking place in order to protect them in any situation.”

Follow these steps for self-protection…

1. Create trails of evidence. Write a detailed statement outlining the abuse, the times and dates of the abuse, and sign and date it. Keep this in a safe place where only you know where it is in caseof an emergency. Once you have your personal statement ready, if there is a situation where law enforcement is called to the home and you are afraid to speak out, you are ready with a written statement instead.

DV Handbook


2. Tell a family member or friend. Give a copy of your written statement to someone you trust (a family friend, coworker, or relative) in caseof an emergency. 3. In New York caseswhere there is an arrest made, pleaseregister with V.I.N.E. (victim notification and information everyday). Call 1-888-VINE-4NY now and protect yourself. This is a service that will notify you upon the releaseof the violent offender. Information can be found on the back of every Domestic Incidence Report. For more information on this state-wide service pleasevisit,


Privacy Protection for Victims of Abuse/Stalking

Privacy Protection Steps … 1. Do not answer the phone relying upon “Caller Id” . “Caller ID spoofing” is a common practice used by high-tech cyber stalkers to program the Caller ID to reveal any name and number of their choice. Stalkers often use telephone numbers known by the victim in order to trick and deceive an unsuspecting victim in to answering the phone. Screen your phone calls. Allow the answering machine to pick up first and then answer. By allowing the answering machine to pick up the stalker may leave a message,which could later be used as evidence in a civil or criminal proceeding. If it’s an important call, the calling party will leave a message! You are in control of your safety and security. 2. Password-protect all accounts, including utilities. Besidesadding a password to your accounts, request to have the agency/entity contact you if there are any changesmade to your accounts including requests for account closures, electronic funds transfers or account cancellations. It is not uncommon for stalkers/abusers, to cancel their victim’s utilities, telephones, make electronic funds transfers from their bank accounts or close/cancel credit cards. 3. Notify Family, Friends & Co-workers not to divulge personal information about you to any third party. Stalkers/Abusers utilizing Caller Id spoof and various other means may contact third parties under false pretensesto obtain vital information pertaining to victim’s activities and whereabouts. In some casespredators use the ruse of being members of law enforcement to obtain information. It is important for all third parties close to the victim to be cautious and alert so that they will not fall prey to these methods. Request call back phone numbers to verify the caller’s identity and always err on the side of safety and privacy first. A good motto is always “less information is best”! 4. Maintain old email accounts and phone numbers and create new ones. When under attack by an abuser/high-tech stalker, it is a good idea to keep old cell phone and email

DV Handbook


addressesactive. A victim of stalking should use their old cell phone number, since their stalker may have accessto their current phone records and email accounts. To thwart a stalker, call and e-mail contacts that you don’t do businesswith, make appointments by phone with doctor’s offices you won’t be treated by, and attorneys you won’t be consulting with. Use this method to keep your stalker or a potential cyber-stalker one step behind you. An evasive cyber-stalker will try to learn their victim’s activities and schedule, including appointments to manipulate and harass their victims. You are you own best privacy advocate. 5. Victims should contact the three national credit bureaus Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union and place a security freeze on their credit accounts. Contact Equifax, Experian, and Trans Union directly for their particular policies and procedures. Placing a security freeze on their credit savesvictims and potential victims of cyber-stalking endless hours that are often required to repair their credit if the stalker attempts to tamper with it. An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure! Today, without an identity change, it is often impossible for victims to protect their credit and personal information from attack by a vicious abuser/high-tech stalker. Stalkers will fraudulently apply for credit using the victims name hoping to damage their credit rating.


Helping Children/Adolescents of Domestic Violence

Alyssa Kogon, recognizing the need for domestic violence reform, teamed with Maria DiBari to propose Linda’s Law in 2010, a law that will be used to reform domestic violence. She is also an educator and music/art therapy provider to the developmentally challenged community. Ms. Kogan suggests: “If children are our most precious assets, then they must be protected from the violence of domestic abuse. Unfortunately, children often go forgotten as the system they are caught in focuseson other social issues. Caregivers may go into denial mode or put their own needs first. Specific therapies and safety nets should and must be put into place to stop the cyclic nature of the beast of Domestic Violence.” More than half of school aged children in domestic shelters show signs of anxiety and severe stress. Counseling and or simply talking out the situation can be of great help to the child. Children of domestic violence are at a much greater risk of juvenile delinquency, substance abuse, relationship disorders, and dropping out of school, they cannot be ignored. The child should be immediately enrolled into counseling, either private or through their school. Family counseling, outside of the school, should also be implemented as soon as possible. Girls in particular, often withdraw from social life and become the forgotten victims of domestic violence. It is up to the caregiver to make sure their children are getting the services that they need to break the cycle of domestic violence. The caregiver can also help the school by giving them a list of important phone numbers, such as that of the child's therapist. The caregiver can check in with the school on a regular basis to seeif

DV Handbook


their child is exhibiting negative behavior problems or social anxiety. When leaving an abusive situation, younger children often feel security from a stuffed toy or familiar clothing. By keeping a box of security items with a friend or in the trunk of the car, the child will have some comfort in having these items nearby. A list of phone numbers of the child's friends can also be helpful in keeping the child comforted. If they are unable to see their friends, at least they can speak with them on the phone. Keeping strong ties with family and friends is very supportive for young victims. All children that witness domestic violence are being abused. It is up to the caregiver to acknowledge the violence and talk to the children about the feelings they are experiencing. Children must be reassured that the violence is not their fault. Children will feel more secure with one parent in a stable environment than in a two parent home that is unstable and violent. Denial is never the route to take when discussing the violence, being truthful, even with the youngest of children, is best. Children should never be the hidden victims of domestic violence.


Identity Change for Victims of Abuse/Stalking

Survivors in Action continues to receive thousands of requests from domestic violence victims

from across the nation desperate to find the "magic bullet" to get the Social Security Administration to accept their application for social security number change. Victims continue to rely upon volunteer victim advocates with Survivors in Action along with public officials to help cut through the red tape when requesting a social security number change.

“The majority of the requests that are sent in to the Social Security Administration by abuseand stalking victims requesting a social security number change are denied on the same basis, ‘not enough evidence of ongoing abuse’ ”. Alexis A. Moore, Founder of Survivors in Action

Identity Change Steps…

1. Obtain letters from your local public officials in support of your social security number change. A simple statement from your Assemblyman or local Senator can make a big difference in cutting through the Social Security Administration “red tape”.

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2. Obtain letters from lawyers, victim advocates, family members, co-workers or any member of law enforcement or individual that will oblige your request to write a support letter on your behalf.

3. Find an advocate at your local domestic violence shelter or reach out to Survivors in Action for any support you may need.

4. Go to The Official Site of the U.S. Social Security Administration: for more information.


Final Words from Our Contributors

Note to all victims, soon to be survivors This guide was developed for victims by victims. The contributors used their personal experiences coupled with their experience assisting victims in their journeys to survival to create an easy to read reference guide that is a tool to be added to a victim “survival tool kit”. Every victim’s journey is going to be different and full of unique challenges and difficulties. Although your specific situation may not be addressedin this guide or any other for that matter, this guide provides the tools, tips, and tricks for you to get the attention of those in power, and the right attention of the influential decision makers to help you find the help and resources that you need to become a survivor. Like all guides and references, this resource will need to change and evolve over time. This is no different from any road map or reference material available today, and it is our pledge to do that every year to ensure that we have provided the most up-to-date information available for victims to help add to their “survival tool kits” from across the United States.

DV Handbook


Survivor's Guide  

a guide for domestic violence and stalking victims

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