Escaping Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a problem in Texas, and can affect people of any age, sex, race, religion or financial status.

Getting a divorce is a painful and stressful time for most couples. For those who have experienced domestic abuse, divorce can be a nightmare. Unfortunately, violence in the family is a pervasive problem in Texas. Spouses who abuse their partners are often unwilling to let them go; further exacerbating the problem is the feeling of complete entrapment and helplessness that victims usually develop over the years. However, it's possible to escape from an abuser with careful planning and help from agencies and trusted individuals.

According to the Texas Council on Family Violence, 114 women were killed in family violence incidents in 2012, an increase over the number killed the previous year. However, domestic abuse can affect anyone, including men.

Children Profoundly Affected By Domestic Abuse

Not surprisingly, children who witness and experience violence in their families can suffer the consequences for a lifetime. Safe Horizon says that boys who grow up in such households are likely to become abusers as adults, while girls will often become abuse victims in their adult relationships. To break this cycle, it's crucial to remove children from the situation as soon as possible and to obtain a custody order that protects them from their abusers.

Signs Of Abuse Can Be Subtle

People may think that domestic abuse is restricted to acts of physical violence, but that is not always so, says HelpGuide. In fact, emotional and verbal abuse can be more confusing and just as devastating as physically striking a family member. The signs of emotional abuse often start out small, but gradually increase until the abuser has complete control over his or her victim. These signs include:

  • Mocking, belittling and putting down the other person to make him or her feel unintelligent and worthless.
  • Threatening to take or harm the children or to destroy personal property.
  • Restricting the victim's access to family, friends, communication, money and transportation.
  • Hitting, throwing and/or breaking objects and personal items to increase intimidation and fear.

Some cases of emotional abuse never escalate to physical violence, while others do. It's important to realize that emotional and verbal abuse are as damaging as being physically hurt, and have the same negative long-term effects on children.

To escape, a victim may need to put together a plan and store emergency cash, clothing, documents and other items in a safe place, such as with a trusted friend or family member. It can help to memorize the phone numbers of abuse shelters and police stations. Victims should also document and report any physical injuries and attacks; it may also be extremely beneficial, both from a legal and safety perspective to obtain a protective order from the court.

How An Attorney Can Help

It's not easy to navigate the path to escaping an abusive relationship on your own. A family law attorney and others with experience helping domestic violence victims may be your best allies during this difficult time.

Keywords: domestic violence, divorce, separation