Domestic Violence

Defining Domestic Violence

Domestic violence occurs when a person attempts to maintain power and control over a current or former intimate partner. Abusers commonly use physical, sexual and emotional abuse. They may limit access to money or use verbal insults, isolation, or threats to gain power over their partners. 

You Are Not Alone

Unfortunately, domestic violence is very common. Domestic violence does not go away on its own. The violence tends to get worse over time. It's not your fault, don't blame yourself. There are individuals and organizations that can help you.


Call the Police

  • Contact Community Overcoming Relationship Abuse (CORA), the only agency in San Mateo County solely dedicated to helping those affected by domestic violence. From counseling to emergency housing, to legal assistance, their services are designed to provide safety, support and healing.
  • If it's an emergency, call the police (9-1-1) for help. If it's not an emergency, call your local police department. When the police arrive, tell them what the abuser did. Ask the police to file a report and ask for a report number.
  • You may ask the police to arrest the abuser. If they refuse, you may ask to make a citizen's arrest.
  • You may ask the police to give you an Emergency Protective Order, requiring the abuser to stay away from you. These orders usually expire within five to seven days, however, so you should apply for a civil restraining order for extended protection.

Form a Safety Plan

  • If you are hurt, go to the hospital. Ask the doctor or nurse to document your injuries.
  • If you leave home, take your children with you, if you can. Take your keys, money, passport, visas, and other important documents. If you have no place to go, call a shelter for survivors of domestic violence.
  • If you stay at home, tell your neighbors to call the police if they hear future disturbances from your home. Develop an exit plan or strategy.
  • Teach your children to call the police, family, or friends if they are snatched or if the abuser becomes violent.
  • Try to find a safe place, leave home, or ask a friend to stay with you.

Legal Options

Restraining Orders

Restraining orders will:

  • Help you get back any medical bills, lost wages or property that was destroyed as a result of the violence.
  • Order the abuser not to hit, follow, call, or have any contact with you.
  • Order the abuser to move out of your home.
  • Order the abuser to stay away from you, your home, your place of employment, and other places (usually 100 yards).
  • Order child custody, visitation and support.

Child Custody & Visitation Orders

Since abusers often use the children to control you, court orders with detailed custody and visitation plans can increase you and your children's safety. You may be able to get an order for supervised visitation or exchange of the children or other orders, which will help protect you and your children from violence.