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Domestic Violence: Resources in the United States

This is a guest post by Ann Hemmens, a senior legal reference librarian with the Law Library of Congress.

We recently received a question concerning resources available for victims of domestic violence. During this coronavirus pandemic we are seeing news articles about the increased reporting of domestic violence, also called intimate partner violence. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “[i]ntimate partner violence (IPV) is abuse or aggression that occurs in a close relationship. ‘Intimate partner’ refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners.”

This blog post focuses specifically on resources available, at the national and local level, within the U.S., for individuals seeking assistance regarding domestic violence or intimate partner violence. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides referrals to agencies in all 50 U.S. states, the District of ColumbiaPuerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The hotline is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They can be reached via phone [1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or (206) 518-9361 (video phone only for deaf callers)] or by texting LOVEIS to 22522 or online through the website. On the website homepage you will find a section titled “Staying Safe During COVID-19.”

Several federal government websites provide comprehensive collections of resources available at the state and national level:

Resources by State on Violence Against Women, from the Office of Women’s Health within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Family Violence Prevention and Services Resource Centers, from the Family and Youth Services Bureau, within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
Watch for Warning Signs of Relationship Violence, from My Healthfinder, within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Domestic Violence, from the Office on Violence Against Women, within the U.S. Department of Justice
Intimate Partner Violence, from the Injury Center, within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Many state and local governments (cities, municipalities, and counties) also provide resources. For example, the state of Massachusetts has information on sexual and domestic violence prevention and services. The Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice posts information on domestic violence resources available. The Phoenix Police Department has posted information online on how to get help. The Oregon Judicial Branch has information on domestic violence resources, including crisis help, financial assistance, legal assistance, protective (restraining) orders and more.

To locate federal legislation proposing to address domestic violence during this public health emergency of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can conduct a keyword search, limited to the current 116th Congress, in Congress.gov. You might use search terms such as “domestic violence,” “intimate partner violence,” or “violence against women act.” For guidance on constructing a search, see the Help page.

Libraries in your area, including public, academic, and law libraries, may have posted guides online for local resources and assistance. Here are a few examples:
• Wisconsin State Law Library has posted information on domestic abuse, including services, reporting, laws, and more
• San Diego Law Library has posted a Civil Harassment and Domestic Violence Actions guide
• San Antonio Public Library has posted a COVID-19 guide with a section on domestic violence resources
• Cornell Library has posted a Domestic Violence Awareness Month guide, focused on print and electronic resources

If you have research questions, please submit a request online through our Ask-A-Librarian service.

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