Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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Navigating the Systems

Working with systems can be confusing for anyone, but if you are a victim of domestic violence, it can be even trickier to navigate. Below are some basics about the systems you may need to work with. A domestic violence advocate can help you navigate these systems step by step.

Child Protective Services and Foster Care Services

If you are a victim of domestic violence and involved with Child Protective Services or the Foster Care System:

If you feel you are not being treated fairly by any system or professional, you have the right to contact that worker’s supervisor.


The job of the police officer responding to domestic violence incidents is to:

If the police are called for a domestic violence incident, they must respond even if you or someone else calls back to cancel. The police should:

It is important to remember that filing charges or getting an order of protection may not end the abuse. Only the abusive partner can make you safe by stopping their behavior.

Community Corrections

If the abusive person in your relationship is on parole or probation, you can provide a confidential report about the abuser’s behaviors to the parole or probation officer. It is helpful to have a domestic violence advocate with you.

If police have been called, the probation or parole office should be aware of it, because the police are required by law to send it to them.

When you speak with the officers, ask them what information they would be able to keep confidential. They may need to report information if there are safety concerns. Make it clear that it is very important for your safety that they do not let your abuser know that the information came from you.

Parole and Probation officers have the power to conduct random, unannounced home visits and office appointments to monitor offenders under their supervision.

Officers can to do a random visit trying to "find" the information you provided (e.g. weapons, drugs, etc.). If the officer finds the necessary evidence, they can file a violation of probation or parole without connecting it to you.

Parolees/probationers know from the beginning that these random visits will be happening throughout their supervision term. The abusive person in your relationship may not necessarily know that you went to their probation or parole officer.

Department of Social Services

If you are a victim of domestic violence and are struggling financially, you can go to your local DSS office for help with a variety of needs. Some services include:

There are requirements and programs that you will be asked to participant in. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please let the worker know right away. You should be given a screening form when you apply for cash assistance. It is important to ask to speak to the Domestic Violence Liaison (DVL) who can assist you with your case and talk about your options.

If you need services but cannot comply with DSS requirements:

Medical Facilities

Domestic violence harms your health. If you are a victim of domestic violence, please share that information with your health care provider. Your health care provider may be able to help you. You have a right to be healthy and safe.