Holding your abuser accountable for the harm they have caused is an important step towards reclaiming your power and seeking justice in the wake of the abuse you have experienced. While the process can be challenging, there are various steps you can take to hold your abuser accountable and give yourself the closure you need to start truly healing.
To that end, this article will explore what you can do to seek accountability for the harm brought upon you by your abuser – both to bring yourself closure and to ensure they can never do it again.
Ensure Your Safety and Well-Being
Your most important priority in this situation – before even thinking about punishing your abuser – is to ensure that you are safe and looked after. After all, there is no point in seeking justice if it comes at the expense of further harm done to you.
If you are still in immediate danger, remove yourself from the abusive situation and seek shelter in a safe environment. You can contact local authorities or helplines specializing in assisting survivors of abuse for support and guidance in relocating yourself.
Once you are safe and have established a support network, which may include trusted friends, family, or support organizations, then you can move on to the process of making sure your abuser is held responsible.
Document the Abuse
While it might feel awful, taking the time to document the abuse you suffered is an essential step in building a strong case against your abuser. If you can create a detailed record of incidents – including any information you can remember about specific dates, times, locations, and descriptions of the abuse – then you have taken the first step in building the case against your abuser.
If possible, find or take photographs of any physical injuries or other physical evidence of the abuse, as these will help to further document the reality of the harm done to you. Similarly, any written or electronic evidence, such as messages or emails, that can support your case would be useful too.
Consult with a Legal Professional
If you do want to seek legal action against your abuser, then you should seek the advice of an experienced attorney who specializes in cases of abuse. Of course, the specific professional you are going to need will vary on the abuse you have suffered. The expertise of clergy abuse attorneys, for example, is going to be different to that of a domestic abuse attorney.
Regardless, the services of an attorney can be invaluable, as they can guide you through the legal process, help you understand your rights, and provide legal options available to you throughout the entire process.
Report the Abuse
Once you feel ready – and are in a safe situation – contact your local law enforcement agency or a designated hotline for domestic violence or abuse to report the abuse you have suffered. Provide them with a detailed account of the abuse you have written and any supporting evidence you have collected.
This is a vital start to the process of holding your abuser accountable, and seeking legal action against your abuser if that is something that you want to do.