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Study finds domestic abuse misunderstood among first responders

When people in California call 911 after an incidence of domestic violence, the first responders who arrive may not always have a good understanding of the situation. A study that appeared in the "Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine" found that many EMTs considered victims to be responsible for the violence.

The study surveyed 403 professionals in Florida who had just completed a training session on domestic violence. Almost 75 percent of them had encountered domestic violence on the job. About one-third of them reported a reaction that ranged from neutral to in agreement with the statement that it was normal for domestic violence to happen as a result of daily frustration. Similar numbers said they were dissatisfied with the victim and were neutral or in agreement with the statement that victims are responsible for abuse if they do not leave their abusers. Nearly half ranged from being neutral to agreeing with the statement that they could not help if victims did not admit to abuse, and about one-fifth were neutral or in agreement with the idea that women who were abused secretly wanted to be abused.

Researchers said they were not surprised by the results and that the results reflected public attitudes toward victims of abuse. Furthermore, first responders do not receive mandatory training in domestic violence and do not spend much time with their victims.

People who have been victims of domestic violence might want to speak to an attorney about getting a restraining order. An attorney may be able to explain a person's rights and what they can do to protect any children who are involved. If there is a custody dispute, a protective order may be used as evidence that it is unsafe for the child to remain with the abusive parent. The attorney may also be able to explain how a protective order can be enforced.

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