Domestic violence in a marriage will affect not only the abused partner but also the children and extended family. It can be a physical act or a threat of violence, and it can be sexual, psychological and verbal abuse as well as economic deprivation.
Domestic violence it too often a pattern of behavior that family members learn to tolerate. For children who witness or experience chronic patterns of abuse, it often causes lasting emotional scars that they may carry into their adult relationships.
Domestic and family violence affects an estimated 10 million Americans each year, and as many as 25% of women and one in nine men have been victims. Domestic violence degrades not only the victims’ quality of life, but also their physical and mental health.
Deciding to leave
The first step to leaving an abusive relationship for the victim is to get help to protect both her and her family. If law enforcement has been called in the past, this will help in establishing a pattern of domestic violence in the home. Even if no such record of police involvement exists, if the victim has had to leave the home on one or more occasions to stay with supportive loved ones, this also establishes a record of domestic abuse.
Under the federal Domestic Violence and Abuse Act, the courts can issue an emergency protective order (EPO) or a domestic violence order (DVO) that will:
- prevent all contact with the victim
- prohibit continued acts of violence
- forbid the abuser from entering or damaging the home
- grant temporary custody of the children to the victim
- prohibit the abuser from possessing a firearm
In addition, under Nebraska state laws, victims of domestic abuse have the right to protection from threats or harm during a criminal proceeding. There are also many support services throughout the state and in Douglas County that provide hotlines, legal aid and other support.
Divorce and custody
A single event may be the catalyst for change, or a series of incidents over time can lead to a decision to leave an abusive relationship. Because every situation is different, it is best to seek legal advice on how to work through the complexities of divorce and custody. Deciding to leave a bad relationship can be scary, but it can also help to know that resources are available to help victims.