Domestic violence is a major national concern. If you are the victim of domestic violence, there are legal steps you can take to protect yourself and your family. Even though domestic violence charges are often filed as misdemeanors, judges usually treat these cases with more urgency than other crimes. Courts use jail sentences, fines, community service and intensive counseling to punish offenders and hopefully teach them to control their tempers and anger. Many people charged with domestic violence find it hard to obtain release from jail, as judges are concerned that return to the home could result in escalated violence and injury. Victims of domestic violence may be able to get a protective order against the offender as well. Victims should act quickly to protect yourself. Contact a safe house, the police, and social service agencies for information about programs in your area.