Behind closed doors, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. If you're married to your abuser, taking the steps below can be overwhelming, but it's also vital to your physical, mental, and emotional well being.
Get to a Place of Physical and Emotional Safety
If you are currently going through divorce and your spouse gets abusive, you need to be safe. While it's commonly said that you should never leave your home during divorce proceedings, the safety and well being of you and your children is of utmost importance. If you're in immediate danger, it's time to take action as quickly as possible, even if it means leaving behind your home and your belongings.
This first step can be the most difficult, which is why physical and emotional support are important. Having a strong family support can help, but it's possible to get out of a bad situation even without such supports in place. A local women's shelter may be able to offer you the safety and security you need while figuring out your next steps. Only once you've gotten to a safe, secure space should you pursue legal action.
Disclose the Abuse to Your Lawyer
It's vital that you find an attorney who you feel can best represent your case, which is why disclosing the abuse to your attorney is the first thing you should do. It's natural to want to cover up the abuse, but doing so can lead to further harm. While disclosing to your attorney isn't easy, it can be the most important thing you'll ever do during the divorce proceedings.
While many states won't allow you to name an at-fault party during the divorce proceedings, a history of domestic abuse can still play a large role in the distribution of property and belongings, as well as when reaching a child custody agreement. When you disclose the abuse to your attorney, they're better able to provide you with the services and protections you need, as well as provide you with the most relevant legal advice possible.
Seek the Help of a Counselor
While your attorney can provide you with all necessary legal counsel pertaining to your divorce, emotional counsel and support from a certified counselor is highly recommended.
Leaving an abusive marriage is a huge, disorienting step. A mental health counselor who specializes in abusive relationships and divorce can help you through this difficult time and provide you with the support you need to keep going. Domestic violence can have long lasting and debilitating effects on its victims. If you're struggling to overcome the abuse you've suffered, seeking professional help is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, seeking help for the pain you're going through is a sign of inner strength and a will to fight.
If you're being abused by your partner, it's time to seek out the help you need. While legal representation before, during, and after divorce proceedings is important, your safety and that of your children's must come first. To learn more about the services and resources available to you, call the national domestic abuse hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
For more information about divorce attorneys, contact a firm like the Law office of Kristine A. Michael, P.C.