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Neighbors should intervene with domestic violence

Domestic violence is an unfortunate reality in many relationships. A report from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that one out of every four women will at one point or another experience domestic abuse in her lifetime.

The signs of domestic violence are apparent, but many neighbors and people close to the couple choose to turn a blind eye. However, it is good to take action if a situation seems to escalate out of control. People should know when an argument gets out of hand.

What is a person's legal responsibility?

As an example, say a person lives in an apartment complex and shares a wall with a couple who argue all the time. These arguments come at all hours of the night, and they seem serious. Legally speaking, the neighbor has no legal obligation to contact the police. However, it is still good to intervene. Neighbors can make reports anonymously so that the couple has no idea who reported the dispute. 

What are the signs of abuse?

Hearing an argument a single time from a couple may not be too much cause for concern. There are signs that the situation escalated from simply arguing to abuse. They include:

  • Arguments occurring in the middle of the night
  • Seeing the physical signs of abuse, such as bruises or cuts
  • Person attempting to cover up bruises and other wounds with heavy makeup or long-sleeved clothing
  • Neighbor appearing to have very few friends ever come over

Unfortunately, victims rarely come forward to report abuse because they are afraid for their lives. Every year, people die as a result of being in an abusive relationship, so it is certainly better to be overly cautious and contact the police as soon as you hear an intense argument. It may turn out to be an isolated incident, but it never hurts to take precautionary action. 

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