There's no question that divorce is hard on anyone, even couples going through the most cooperative of splits. Unfortunately for many couples in Massachusetts, their marriages-and divorces-have been anything but cooperative. Sadly, a large number of people throughout the country are victims of domestic violence every day. This includes men, as well as women and children. Nobody should be treated to either physical or emotional abuse, no matter their gender or age. However, statistics have shown that women are most often the victims in reported cases of adult domestic violence in our state.
According to Jane Doe Inc., almost a third of all women in Massachusetts have experienced rape, physical abuse or stalking by a spouse or intimate partner. Between 2003 and 2012, at least 266 women were victims in murders related to domestic abuse. Getting a divorce from an abusive partner can be very difficult, but may be necessary for victims to protect themselves and their children.
The effects of domestic violence on children
Not surprisingly, being exposed to domestic abuse can have lifelong effects on young ones. Safe Horizon says that boys who grow up in abusive families often abuse their own partners and children, while girls most likely will become victims of abuse in their adult relationships. For this reason, it's imperative that those caring for children obtain custody arrangements that protect them from their abusers.
Not all abusive marriages include physical violence. Emotional and verbal abuse can be just as damaging as physical blows, and even harder to recognize, says HelpGuide. If a person feels intimidated by her spouse or constantly worries that he will "blow up" in anger over trivial things, he may be emotionally abusive. An abuser will often use threats, yelling and manipulation to exert control over his victim. He is likely to restrict his victim's access to transportation, money, communication, family and friends to isolate her and prevent her from getting help.
Escaping an abusive relationship may not be easy, but is possible with the right support and resources. An effective escape plan should include the following:
- Creating an escape plan and rehearsing it with a trusted family member or friend.
- Storing emergency items, such as cash, clothing and documents, in a safe place.
- Memorizing phone numbers and addresses of abuse shelters, police stations and other resources.
- Reporting instances of abuse, including photographing injuries.
Additionally, a victim may protect herself legally by seeking a protective order. Advocacy groups or law enforcement can help with this important step.
Getting help from an attorney
An experienced family law attorney will be a vital factor in getting out of an abusive marriage. A lawyer will know additional resources to help victims receive support and protection, and will be able to take the steps necessary to protect children and help the family start a life free of fear and violence.