Should I report my abuser?

First, take the Danger Assessment Quiz

Someone who observes an abusive relationship without prior experience of physical, mental, financial, emotional, or psychological abuse from a partner would say “yes!” in a heartbeat. After all, the pros outweigh the cons. But do they? 

An outsider’s feelings are understandable. However, as someone going through domestic abuse, you must have thought about this question several times and concluded to give your partner just one more chance. In the end, is it really worth it? This question is up for you to decide after weighing your options and the alternative scenarios if you continue an abusive relationship.

If your life has been difficult, mainly because of a relationship or a person you love, it is normal to feel unsure about the best approach to remedy the situation. Reporting your abuser to the police can be a way to get help in a moment of a crisis – as in Gina’s story. However, it is not always the best response or an option – as in Piepzna-Samarasinha’s story.  

It will interest you to know that calling the police depends on your current circumstances, evidence of abuse you have gathered over time, and the message you want to send to your abuser.

These said, report your abuser to local law enforcement if:

  • Your life or physical wellbeing is in danger
  • Your life or physical wellbeing of a loved one is in danger
  • Your partner has physically hurt you in front of witnesses
  • You want your abuser to face criminal charges for the abuse
  • You are just tired of your abuser and their behavior
  • You have decided to prioritize yourself and your wellbeing

The Pros of Reporting An Abuser

Here are a few reasons you should consider reporting your abuser to law enforcement: 

  • It sends a strong message to your abuser that you are not afraid to send him/her to jail.
  • If you file criminal charges against your abuser, law enforcement and the court of jurisdiction will keep a record of the incident. If he/she is a repeat offender, the court is more likely to imprison your abuser or remand him/her to counseling.
  • Reporting your abuser gives future partners a warning to steer clear.
  • Domestic abusers also face other court-imposed sanctions depending on the circumstances surrounding the case. This includes compelling him/her to a certified batterer’s intervention program.
  • You will need a record of the report to prove abuse in a child custody battle. Having it on record helps your future case.
  • Reporting your abuser may help you get emergency public housing or other benefits, especially if the court convicted your abuser.

Perceived Cons of Reporting An Abuser

Here are a few reasons why many victims fail to report their abusers to law enforcement or seek help: 

  • They figured they are already very much invested in the relationship.
  • They do not want to seek their partners hurt, risk their reputation or jobs.
  • They think that a vindictive abuser who gets out of jail may come after them. 
  • They considered that their partner already controls everything and they may lose the few benefits they have.

These reasons are mostly inaccurate. A victim who seeks professional legal help can easily recover their rightful investment in a relationship. Also, if your partner is violent and vindictive, consider moving away from the same city as your abuser or at least leave the neighborhood. Doing this will help you heal faster and build a healthy relationship with someone who understands and values you.    

Depending on where you live, you can find and call the phone of the local sheriff’s office, police department or dial 9-1-1 on your mobile device.

You may also call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline on all 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). A trained representative will help you handle the situation, get help, and remain safe until the police arrive.

If the situation is dangerous at the time of the call, safeguard yourself by barricading yourself and your loved ones in a room or leave the house immediately. You can find and go to your local domestic shelter.It helps if you have a safety plan in place when you call law enforcement or the Hotline. Nevertheless, this is not a requirement for getting the help you need. Following law enforcement intervention, you can still get a protection order from the local family court or seek other emergency relief such as temporary custody and temporary child support from the court.