For Mothers Who Are In A Domestic Violence Situation, What Protections Are Available Before And After Filing For A Divorce?
Physical violence tends to escalate, which is a part of a phenomenon referred to as the cycle of domestic violence. There might be verbal or emotional abuse, and then things will return to normal or be even better than they were. The good feelings associated with the good times in the relationship are what keep domestic violence victims in their abusive relationships, and in some ways, it is like an addiction; they keep coming back to the relationship and seeking those good feelings, but end up feeling like they’re walking on eggshells because they don’t know what’s going to set the other person off.
Once there is physical violence, the police can arrest the abuser, but oftentimes, that’s not what the victim wants. The feeling of getting someone in trouble causes a lot of conflict for victims, especially since the person getting in trouble is a person the victim loves. There can be the sentiment of “snitches get stitches,” judgement from other family members, and even assertions that the victim should endure the abuse for one reason or another. This can be a very difficult process for people to go through.
In some cases, the abuse goes both ways. For instance, both parties might be physically violent towards each other, and both will feel badly about what they’ve done. Often, this dynamic evolves in long-term relationships, wherein each partner learns how to aggravate and push the other’s buttons, which can lead to all kinds of behaviors. One study showed that with an increase in domestic violence arrests, the only statistic that decreased was the number of abusers who were killed by their victims. Domestic violence situations involve a lot of different factors and emotions.
Even if a situation doesn’t rise to the level of one partner pressing charges against the other, there are domestic abuse advocates who can walk people through the process that may or may not involve an arrest, but that will help the individual make decisions about the relationship whether that involves leaving the relationship right away, or later. The goal of the advocate should be to help victims become survivors. Often, this involves helping the victim first recognize that they are in an abusive relationship, and then obtaining resources for getting out it. Such resources might involve shelter, food, and guidance through the legal system.
Advocates can also help survivors get a restraining order. The survivor might want the abuser to be kept away from the home, or might want temporary custody of the child and child support. However, it is important for people considering a restraining order to understand that if they request custody and/or child support, the abuser will be entitled to a hearing. As a result, the individual will need to consider how willing they are to attend a hearing with their abuser in order to obtain these things. For some people, it’s absolutely worth it, and for others it isn’t.
If the victim does not ask for custody or child support, then the court will make decisions on the matter based only on the facts of the case presented to the court by the victim. For this reason, it is imperative that all relevant information is provided to the court. If the facts do meet the standard for issuing the order without a hearing and the court grants the order, then a hearing will only be held if the abuser requests one, and the abuser does have the right to request a hearing.
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