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Hurricane is especially tough for domestic violence victims

As many readers in New Jersey and the surrounding East Coast are aware, Hurricane Sandy has had a devastating effect on many people's lives. They have been without power, and gas shortages and public transit outages have made it almost impossible to get around. The hurricane also appears to have particularly affected domestic violence survivors. The disruptions that the hurricane caused may force some survivors to feel the need to go back to their abusers.

Domestic violence shelters in New Jersey were hit extremely hard. An executive director for one organization in the area said that their shelter and living facility lost power for 11 days. Even where shelters did not lose power, the effects of the storm made it impossible for many victims to get their jobs or to homes they relocated to in an attempt to escape the abuse. The upheaval from the storm creates uncertainty and may put those victims in danger, because they might not have other friends and family to use for support. Even those that can stay with family might be in danger, as their abusers usually know where they live.

A victim's ability to work is critical to their safety. Not being able to work due to the hurricane's effects puts victims in the difficult situation of feeling like they have to return to their abusers for financial reasons.

Although the hurricane has affected many areas of life, there are still options available to those seeking relief from domestic violence. For example, a victim can obtain a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), where the court essentially orders an abuser to stop the abuse. It usually requires the abuser to stay a certain distance away from the victim, where the victim works or goes to school, the school the victim's children attends, and other places where the victim may spend time.

TROs are usually easy to obtain. The court clerks will often help victims fill out the necessary forms. A TRO can be an effective tool to keep domestic violence victims safe during the trying times caused by Hurricane Sandy.

Source: BuzzFeed "For Domestic Violence Survivors, Hurricane's Impact Is Particularly Severe," Anna North, Nov. 15, 2012

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