How to Prove the Extent of Your Abuse

If you have been beaten or threatened, call the police or sheriff’s department as soon as you can safely do so. Ask the officer to make a report and take pictures if you have injuries. Write down the officer’s name and badge number so you know who to call as a witness in a civil or criminal action.

When the officer arrives, give him or her any evidence you have of the abuse (such as torn or bloody clothing). Give the officer names and phone numbers of witnesses if there are any. If you have a protective order or other legal agreement or order (separation, divorce or custody), give the officer copies. If there have been prior incidents of domestic violence against you, be sure to give the officer the dates and describe those incidents so they will be included in the report.

The officer should take pictures of your injuries but you should always take your own pictures as well. While it doesn’t usually happen, there have been cases in which the pictures were lost or misplaced by law enforcement – and in domestic violence cases, pictures really are “worth a thousand words.”

Another reason to take your own pictures is that bruises do not always show up right away. Take pictures whenever marks or bruises appear. You can use them later in court as proof of the abuse. Get medical treatment for any physical injuries; medical records provide good evidence in any legal action.