Giving Domestic Abuse Victims the Power to Start Anew

You have had enough. For two decades, you have tolerated domestic abuse from your spouse. You chose to overlook every previous incident for the sake of keeping the family together as well as keeping up appearances with neighbors, friends and relatives. But one too many unexplained bruises was enough for them to figure out what was happening.

The last straw occurred when your spouse threw a full can of beer in your direction after vehemently complaining about a recent shopping purchase you made. It is time to move on, and it is time to protect yourself. And the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to make matters worse. Being in close quarters with your spouse magnified every disagreement.

Secure a protective order

Violence between intimate partners is not uncommon. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25% of U.S. women and 10% of U.S. men have been victims of sexual and physical violence as well as stalking from a spouse or partner during their lifetime. In addition, 43 million women and nearly 38 million men reported some form of psychological aggression.

If you are the victim of domestic abuse, here are some critical steps you need to do to protect yourself:

  • Get help right away. Escape to the home of a friend, family member or emergency shelter. These represent temporary places to stay until you can find a safe and permanent home. And do not let your estranged and abusive spouse or partner know where you are.
  • Secure a family violence protective order against your spouse or partner. This legal document protects you in many ways. It will give you possession of the house and force your spouse or partner to vacate. He or she cannot contact, harass or harm you under the threat of immediate punishment and incarceration. The order also gives you temporary spousal and child support.
  • Do not return to your abuser. This person may sweet-talk you and make a number of promises, which will not be kept.
  • Get legal help from an empathetic and understanding attorney who will advocate for you at every step.

It is sad that your relationship has come to this. But, then again, you have tolerated domestic violence and abusive behavior all these years. It is time to end this pattern of abuse, and it is time to begin a new life.