If you are a victim of domestic violence, you need to understand what types of legal protections exist for you. In many cases, the only way to break the cycle of abuse will also involve ending the relationship. This means that if you are married to someone who is engaging in threatening or physically abusive behavior, you should consider talking with a family law attorney about your options for divorce.
The decision of whether to end a marriage or not is a very personal one, and it is up to you whether you believe that you can make the marriage work even if there is a history of domestic violence. However, you need to carefully consider the downsides of staying with someone who is engaging in a pattern of abusive behavior.
Should You Get a Divorce if You Are a Domestic Violence Victim?
In many cases, getting a divorce is the best option for victims of domestic violence. There are important reasons why ending a marriage may be the best solution for you and your family:
- Domestic violence is likely to be a repeat problem. According to the American Bar Association, 41 percent of respondents to a survey of female domestic violence victims indicated that the men who abused them re-assaulted them within 30-months of an act of abuse. Almost 2/3 of the first time re-assaults occurred within six months of the initial incident. Another study on rearrests for domestic violence found that 62 percent of defendants were re-arrested for repeated acts of violence against partners.
- Children who are exposed to domestic violence can be harmed. Even if the abuser is not hurting the children, children in homes where domestic violence is occurring still experience problems including post-traumatic stress disorder, bed wedding, and nightmares. Allergies, asthma, headaches, flu, and gastrointestinal problems are also more likely to affect children who live in homes where domestic violence is happening. Children who witness domestic violence in the home are also more likely to develop and act out violent tendencies themselves, especially as they reach their teenage years.
In some cases, domestic violence escalates when you announce your intent to separate or when you initiate divorce proceedings. You should talk with a family law attorney about protective orders and other legal tools designed to help you stay safe when you leave someone who is abusing you. Your lawyer can help you through the process of divorce so you can end your marriage as quickly as possible and so you can argue for custody of your children. Your lawyer can also help you to try to find the resources necessary to stay safe from threats and acts of violence.