Divorce is almost always a heartbreaking and difficult time, but it can be especially challenging for victims of domestic violence. Domestic abuse affects countless families in New Jersey and throughout the country. Ending an abusive marriage can be extremely difficult, because typically abusers want to maintain control over their partners’ lives and are not willing to let them go. Fortunately, by taking the proper precautions and involving a number of supportive agencies and individuals, abuse victims can escape from their situations and find freedom.
Understanding emotional and verbal abuse
It can be difficult to spot the symptoms of domestic abuse. For some victims, abuse might not include physical injuries. However, verbal and emotional abuse can be as damaging as physical violence, according to HelpGuide.org. While physical blows can leave broken bones and bruises, the scars from emotional damage are internal and can take a lifetime of healing. Both types of abuse are serious, and there is no guarantee that an abuser who has never hit a victim before will not become physically violent at some point.
An abusive person will often appear charming at first, but will gradually increase his or her use of intimidation and threats to gain control over his or her partner. The victim may be restricted from using money, transportation or communication, and can be forbidden to see friends or family. Often, the abuser can become enraged at the slightest provocation and may destroy items belonging to the victim. Victims of verbal, emotional and physical abuse may feel as if they are constantly “walking on eggshells” to avoid angering the abuser.
Creating an escape plan
It is important to get help from abuse agencies and law enforcement when planning to escape a violent relationship. Often, one of the first steps in an escape plan involves obtaining a Temporary Restraining Order to prevent the abuser from making physical contact with victims. Other steps to get away from an abuser include:
- Memorizing the phone numbers and addresses of victim shelters, support agencies and police stations
- Documenting instances of abuse, including taking pictures of physical injuries
- Storing emergency cash, clothing, documents and other belongings in a safe place
- Creating a plan for escape and sharing with a trusted family member or friend
Ending an abusive marriage is important not only for the person who is being abused, but for children as well. According to Safe Horizon, children are profoundly affected by growing up in households where there is domestic violence. Boys will often grow up to abuse their own spouses and children, while girls are more likely to become victims of abuse. Getting children out of these situations and finding help are crucial to ending this cycle of violence.
Getting help from an attorney
If you’re ready to leave an abusive marriage, this is probably a confusing and frightening time. It is important to get in touch with a family law attorney who has experience with domestic violence situations. An attorney can not only ensure your rights are protected, but can help you with invaluable resources and agencies for you and your children to find freedom and peace.