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risk-free. For example, while there may be risks attached to staying with an abusive partner, there are also risks attached to separating from an abusive partner, such as the risks  of escalated threats and physical violence, continued harassment, and stalking. While calling the police or seeking an order of protection from the courts are options available to battered women, there is also the risk that an abusive partner will attempt to retaliate against the victim for having involved the courts or the criminal justice system.

Seeking help, getting an order of protection, or deciding to leave an abusive partner only makes sense to a woman when, on balance, it reduces the overall risks that she and her children have to deal with. Safety interventions should reflect the reality that there are risks attached to every decision a battered woman makes, and should be designed to evaluate the risks and benefits of different options and to identify ways to reduce the risks.

The interests of victim safety should remain paramount even when there may be a perceived benefit of a program, policy, protocol, or procedure to some other interest. For example, in a mental health setting, it might be perceived that victim reports of violence could be used to more effectively confront the denial of an abuser. The solicitation and/or use of victim reports in intervening with abusers, however, increases the risk of retaliatory violence by the abuser, and should therefore be avoided whenever possible.

The following Guiding Principles aim not only to protect victims from further harm by their abusive partners, but to also protect them from further victimization by "the system." The following principles therefore encourage the development of responses that refrain from explicit or implicit victim blaming, affirm the adult victim's right to self-determination, and set realistic and reasonable expectations of both victims and providers within the relevant systems.

a.The goal of interventions with victims is SAFETY from physical, emotional, financial, and psychological harm, regardless of whether a victim is choosing to continue in a relationship with the abusive partner or not. Leaving an abusive partner may be an option a victim chooses at some point in her safety planning process, but leaving is not the appropriate goal of

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