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DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR: Woman in dark room, word survivor written across her image

Domestic Violence: a Societal Ill, An Injustice, a Cultural Failing

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE SURVIVOR: Woman in dark room, word survivor written across her image

 

When I look at myself in the mirror on a good day, I can console myself with the knowledge that I have earned every single wrinkle and bag because I am a survivor. On a bad day, I see my metaphorical scarlet letter, “S” for shame, prominently displayed on my forehead.

Most days, even the word “survivor” doesn’t sit well with me. A survivor implies strength. A survivor implies courage. Can I accept those accolades? How can I feel courageous when I feel as if I am the one to blame?

Like so many survivors of divorce and domestic violence, the fatal allure of self-blame is hard to escape. Despite guidance from my support group and knowing deep down in my heart that it isn’t true, I still hear the nagging whispers of blame and shame. And understandably so.

Domestic Violence: a Societal Ill, An Injustice, a Cultural Failing

This voice developed from the familiar chorus of well-meaning acquaintances, law enforcement, and the legal system. Anthems of “he was such a nice guy,” “why didn’t you see the red flags,” “well, there are 3 sides to every story,” and “both parents have issues” drown out voices of peace and comfort.

And my ex-husband was masterful at finding me guilty for the most absurd infractions, leaving me to wallow alone in my misery.

Blame and shame quickly became my new best friends.

But blame and shame have no room in a life that is repairing, restoring, and reclaiming itself. I reached out to friends and family desperately seeking answers to my questioning of where I went wrong. One response appealed to my rational side.

This came from my uncle who is the closest person, genetically and emotionally, to my own deceased father. It was in one of his text messages that I felt the comforting words that my own father could have said.

He reaffirmed that I had done absolutely nothing to deserve this and that neither misjudgment nor poor self-image brought the abuse upon me. He said the blame rests on the ignorance of male chauvinism that pervades many cultures.

The gravity of this statement did not go unnoticed. This issue was larger than any single relationship. It affected each and every woman. With my uncle’s words, the “S” on my forehead was starting to fade.

My personal shame faded away as incensement rose to the foreground. I realized that all women potentially faced a fate similar to mine, even my young daughter. This was a societal ill, an injustice, a cultural failing that allowed the undercurrent of misogyny to survive.

These beliefs infiltrated our communities, popular culture, and our homes.

I started to finally give myself permission to focus on impacting the future instead of second-guessing the past.

Slowly, the tired phrases of self-blame were replaced with the acknowledgment that I did not make a mistake when I married my ex, that he wasn’t a nice guy, and that in abuse, truth is the only side to the story. I could finally tell myself that this mess was not my fault.

The difference was this time I believed it. The “S” was almost unnoticeable now. As in The Scarlet Letter, “She did not know the weight until she felt her freedom.” I never realized how much shame was holding me back.

We are not drawn to our abusers.

They exist because our current culture makes it very easy for them. And it’s time we make it harder. It’s time we shift our culture from that of a hierarchy to that of equal members of the same team.

It’s time that from an early age, males and females learn to respect each other at home, school, and work. My heart is full of hope for the future, but I understand that it will not come easily. We have a power within us that our abusers underestimated.

But first, we must free ourselves of the burden of shame and realize that we are survivors.

And so, when I look in the mirror today, I see a woman who has triumphed. And my face is not the only reflection I see. I see the millions of women who have suffered and prevailed.

Their story is my story.

Their struggle is your struggle.

And best of all, their victory is for all of us.

The post Domestic Violence: a Societal Ill, An Injustice, a Cultural Failing appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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COVID-19 AND DOMESTIC ABUSE: Woman with black eye holding help sign

Stay-At-Home Orders and COVID-19: A Nightmare For Victims of Domestic Violence

COVID-19 AND DOMESTIC ABUSE: Woman with black eye holding help sign

 

It’s not always obvious that you are in an abusive relationship. Many times in abusive relationships the victim will believe they are to blame or deserve the abuse.

The recent global pandemic has brought couples closer than ever.

Unfortunately, closeness can be a hell behind closed doors for victims of domestic violence.

 “Stay at Home” Orders: A Living Hell For Victims of Domestic Violence

According to Katie Ray-Jones, the CEO of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, perpetrators are threatening to throw their victims out on the street so they get sick. They are also using this time in isolation to withhold financial or medical resources or medical assistance.

Times of social distancing and isolation can be an opportunity for an abuser to unleash violence on their victim. According to recent reports, since the “stay at home” orders have been issued, the YWCA, a non-profit organization for victims of domestic violence, reports that they have seen a 50% increase in calls.

This is an important reminder that not everyone is safer at home.

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

According to the World Health Organization, one in three women will experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime. It can happen in times of peace and stability, but domestic abuse can elevate when crisis strikes.

Abuse can be any action, physical or emotional, that is cruel and violent or intended to cause harm to someone. The first step to seeking help for abuse is knowing what signs to look for.

Jealousy

Jealousy has no place in a healthy relationship. Many times in abusive relationships jealousy will start off as a minor annoyance, but can quickly escalate into a daily problem.

The first signs of jealousy can be to gradually isolate you from family and friends. Jealousy can also include constantly accusing you of cheating or flirting with other people.

Possessiveness and Control 

When possessiveness and control rear its ugly head in a relationship, the outcome can be extremely damaging to a person’s mental health. Constant “check-ins” on your whereabouts and who you are with can be the main sign that your partner is possessive or controlling. In addition, a possessive partner will try to control where you go and who you see.

Signs of Possessive or controlling behavior include:

  • Checking your phone or computer without your permission
  • Constant calling you or texting you and asking who you are with
  • Constantly putting you down
  • Explosive temper
  • Mood swings
  • Gaslighting

Physical Violence

Physical abuse is any intentional forced and unwanted contact with you or something close to you. Sometimes abusive behavior doesn’t cause any pain or cruises, but it can have a lasting emotional impact.

Examples of Physical Abuse:

  • Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking.
  • Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate.
  • Pulling your hair.
  • Pushing or pulling you.
  • Grabbing your clothing.
  • Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or another weapon.
  • Smacking your bottom without your permission or consent.
  • Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act.
  • Grabbing your face to make you look at them.
  • Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.

Sexual Abuse 

Sexual violence refers to crimes like sexual assault, rape, and sexual abuse. Typically, a partner who is physically violent is also sexually abusive. Intimate partner assault and rape are intended to intimidate, control and demean victims of domestic violence.

According to, The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV)’s, “Women who are sexually abused by intimate partners suffer severe and long-lasting physical and mental health problems, similar to those of other rape victims. They have higher rates of depression and anxiety than women who were either raped by a non-intimate partner or physically but not sexually abused by an intimate partner.”

Get Help Immediately 

Toxicity in relationships usually gets worse, if you find yourself in a physically or emotionally abusive relationship, it’s important to know you are not alone.

Domestic violence advocates are urging women who are not in forced quarantine or isolation to seek help immediately. For victims already in isolation, the National Domestic Violence Hotline is rapidly working to develop strategies to help those who are in lockdown.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline via text or call at 1-800-799-7233.

The post Stay-At-Home Orders and COVID-19: A Nightmare For Victims of Domestic Violence appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Domestic Abuse To Rise During Lockdown

Domestic Abuse To Rise During Lockdown

I want to start by saying that when i use the term “domestic abuse” I am not just referring to male to female abuse.  I am talking female to male, sibling to sibling, child to parent and every other abuse that takes place under the family roof.  

 

On Monday 23rd March 2020 the UK Prime Minister announced that we are on lockdown, although Boris was very careful not to use that word.  Essentially meaning that we are to stay home unless in exceptional circumstances.

 

Obviously that in itself is scary enough but for many adults and children there is another layer to this.

 

Domestic abuse at the hands of their family.

 

9 Reasons Why Domestic Abuse Will Rise During Lockdown

 

Isolation

 

Abusive people love to isolate their victims.  They do it covertly and usually over time to avoid suspicion.  But they don’t need to be covert or slow anymore. They have effectively been given permission to isolate their victims (not a criticism of lockdown as I do believe it is necessary) and no-one will see it for what it really is.  It will be swept under the carpet with “social isolation”. Added to that, is the reality that getting out will now be almost impossible. There’s nowhere to go.  

 

Financial and service restrictions

 

With jobs being lost and income restricted, there isn’t the money to escape.  The services which may have supported you in finding shelter and/or accommodation will be limited as well.  You can’t go and stay with relatives due to the risk involved either.  

 

The financial restrictions will increase stress levels in the house as well. Money is already one of the leading reasons for arguments in relationships and losing a job is seen as a crisis.  It is creating a pressure pot for families who now have no way of getting out and letting off steam.  

 

No escape routes

 

With most service industries being closed now (shows, pubs and restaurants) there is no outlet for time away or fun.  Bundling the kids in the car to take them to the park or seaside is off limits as well. Every aspect of life is happening in four walls.  It’s like Big Brother but on steroids! 

 

Lack of purpose

 

We are all better, happier and more balanced people when we have a purpose in our life and for a lot of people that is a job or being a parent.  With few people being able to go to work now this can lead to depression as well as anxiety over what happens next. Negative emotions can spiral and it’s easy to take things out on those closest to you.  

 

As a parent when your kids were at school, you got on with stuff.  Did the housework, saw friends, worked on your business. But now they are around 24/7 and you have way less time to do “your” stuff and that can be really frustrating.  Add to that having to keep them entertained and meltdowns are inevitable.

 

Children are stressful

 

Even the best children can test the patience of a saint at times and so sending them off to school or nursery gives parents the break they need.  Not any more. You get to see them in all their glory and it’s not easy. Giving children attention for long periods of time is also exhausting.  

 

You will also see the difference in parenting styles between you and your partner which can cause arguments.  We all have our own way of doing things and even when we work as a team, we don’t always agree on everything. That’s normal and natural and actually one of the strengths of most couples.  But those differences, in a microsystem like lockdown can become enormous chasms of difference and the arguments can easily get out of hand if they are happening regularly.

 

Controlling contact

 

Abusive people will use this situation to control who gets access to their victims and who doesn’t.  They will interrupt calls, refuse to allow visits to drop off supplies for family members (under the guise of safety of course) and use this as an excuse not to return children after contact (against the advice of the government who state handovers are still permitted).  Again this can cause arguments but also creates a new kind of “normal” which can become the precedent for how your household functions.

 

Awakening versus compliance

 

During this period of lockdown, people will fall into two categories: those who realise what is going on and see the abuse for what it is (awaken) and those who comply.

 

Those who awaken will find it really uncomfortable and perhaps attempt to fight back, refusing to comply.  Those who comply are effectively accepting the behaviours and making it their “norm”. Sadly both are dangerous.  

 

Child neglect

 

Many parents will refuse to adhere to the lockdown and will continue to go about their daily business which can, with the closure of schools, lead to many children being left to fend for themselves and care for their siblings.  With services at a stretch, children may be left alone and in dangerous situations for the duration with no-one to check on them. I have known of young children who have attempted to cook chips in a deep fat fryer for their younger siblings whilst their parents were out at work.  Doing that every day for 3 weeks is an accident waiting to happen.

 

It is important to note that even people who are not abusive will struggle through this period because it is so abnormal and scary.  It has the potential to bring out the worst in us. If you find your family is struggling, do try to reach out to the online services listed below.

 

I sadly don’t have the answers as this has never happened before but my advice to everyone is try to stay positive.  Make little “Peace zones” in your house where possible where people can go for 5 minute peace and quiet if needed. Don’t put pressure on yourself to be a teacher either.  Be their parents and enjoy the time with them. That’s what they really need right now.

 

If you are in danger, support services will still be able to offer support so do use the numbers below.

 

And most of all, take care and be safe everyone.

 

Useful contact numbers:

Facebook Group Family Lockdown Tips and Ideas www.facebook.com/groups/871176893326326/

Samaritans 116 123

Support for women and children www.womensaid.org.uk/

Support for men www.mankind.org.uk/

Our own 14 Day Social Distancing Survival Kit mailchi.mp/thenurturingcoach.co.uk/survival-kit

The post Domestic Abuse To Rise During Lockdown appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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Texas Court Denies New Qualified Domestic Relations Order More Than 20 Years After Divorce

Texas Court Denies New Qualified Domestic Relations Order More Than 20 Years After Divorce

Originally published by Francesca Blackard.

By

A court generally may not amend or change the property division made in a Texas divorce decree.  The court may issue an order to enforce the property division, but such an order may only clarify the prior order or assist in its implementation.  If a court improperly amends or modifies the substantive property division in the final divorce decree, it is acting beyond its power and that order is unenforceable. Tex. Fam. Code Ann. § 9.007.  Qualified Domestic Relations Orders (QDRO) are separate orders that set forth the distribution of retirement plan assets.  They are considered a type of enforcement or clarification order and cannot change the property division made in the divorce decree.

In a recent case, an ex-wife sought an additional QDRO years after the divorce was finalized.  The couple divorced in 1995, and the parties have been in litigation for the past several years regarding the husband’s retirement accounts.

The divorce decree awarded the ex-wife 50% “of any and all sums … related to any … retirement plan, pension plan, … or other benefit program existing by reason of [ex-husband’s] past, present, or future employment, including without limitation, [ex-husband’s] Retirement Fund, Provident Fund, and SPIF Fund with Shell Oil Company per Qualified Domestic Relations Orders …”  The trial court signed a QDRO awarding the ex-wife half the funds in the ex-husband’s Shell Provident Fund on the date of the divorce.  The court found the total community property interest in the Shell Provident Fund was the total amount of contributions, interest, and earnings made or accrued by or on behalf of the ex-husband into any of the Shell Provident Fund accounts.  The QDRO stated the ex-wife was “divested of all right, title, and interest in and to any balance remaining in any account of the Shell Provident Fund…” and that the fund would be discharged from all obligations to her when full payment was made pursuant to the QDRO.  It also said it would become an integral part of the divorce decree.

 

The ex-wife received the funds from the QDRO.  In 2015, the ex-wife petitioned for another QDRO and the court signed it, with a valuation date of July 15, 2015.  The husband said he was not given notice of the hearing and that neither the petition nor the QDRO were on file with the court before the hearing.

The ex-wife did not receive the funds from the 2015 QDRO.  She filed an amended QDRO in April 2016 with a 2015 valuation date, but the trial court did not sign it.  She filed a petition to enter an amended QDRO the following month, with the 2015 valuation date and amount.

In April 2017, the husband filed a petition for bill of review of the divorce decree.  He asked the court to clarify that the retirement benefits were to be divided as they existed on the date of the divorce.  He argued the court did not have jurisdiction to sign the 2015 QDRO because it conflicted with the divorce decree and the 1995 QDRO. The ex-wife then filed another amended petition to enter a QDRO.  After a hearing, the trial court granted the bill of review, modified the decree, and set aside the 2015 QDRO.

The ex-wife filed a response, arguing the bill of review had been untimely.  The court then signed a “Court’s Rendition,” in which it denied the bill of review, set aside the reformed decree and QDRO, and reinstated the original decree.

The ex-wife then filed another proposed QDRO, but the trial court did not enter it due to a missing signature.  She filed a “Motion to Sign QDRO.” The docket entry indicated that the motion was not properly served, and the hearing was rescheduled.  The husband’s attorney argued the 1995 QDRO divested the ex-wife of all interest in the fund.  The trial court denied the motion, finding the 1995 QDRO awarded the wife half the funds as of the date of divorce and that she was not entitled to anything else from the fund.

The trial court denied the wife’s motion for a new trial. She appealed, arguing the divorce decree had awarded her half of the fund through the ex-husband’s last date of employment.  The ex-husband argued that the proposed QDRO was an impermissible collateral attack on the 1995 QDRO.

The appeals court noted that a QDRO is a final, appealable order.  A party who does not appeal a QDRO may not collaterally attack it through a separate proceeding.  The appeals court found that the ex-wife’s motion to enter a new proposed QDRO filed so many years after the divorce was such a collateral attack.

The court also noted that the 1995 QDRO awarded the ex-wife half of the fund as it was valued on the date of the divorce and divested her of any further interest.  The QDRO she sought to have entered would have awarded her a share of all amounts contributed on behalf of the ex-husband “in the past, present, and future.” The ex-wife received the funds she was awarded in the 1995 QDRO in 1995.  Her proposed QDRO sought to avoid the effect of the decree and the 1995 QDRO, making it a collateral attack.

The appeals court also rejected the ex-wife’s argument that she was entitled to QDROs awarding her half of the ex-husband’s other benefits and employer-based savings plans through his past, present and future employment.  The court found she was also barred from collaterally attacking the division as to these benefits as well.

The appeals court affirmed the trial court’s denial of the motion to sign the QDRO.

Although this case is procedurally complex, it illustrates the importance of addressing issues promptly through the appropriate procedures.  If you think your marriage may be ending, a skilled Texas divorce attorney can help you through the difficult process.  Schedule an appointment with McClure Law Group by calling 214.692.8200.

Curated by Texas Bar Today. Follow us on Twitter @texasbartoday.



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domestic abuse prosecutions

Caroline Flack’s Suicide And What It Has Taught Us About Public Attitudes Towards Domestic Abuse

All suicide is tragic.  And this post is not to pass commentary on the who, why, what’s and wherefore’s of what happened leading up to Caroline Flacks actions on Saturday 15th February 2020.  But rather to highlight the realities of what this can teach us about public opinion of domestic abuse and how that can impact decisions for both parties within an abusive relationship.

 

Caroline was going to face court for assault which was domestic abuse as it was an incident between two people in a relationship.  We don’t and can’t know what happened between them. What we do know is that the CPS felt they had enough evidence to take the case to court and it was in the public interest to do so.  For reasons only Caroline herself knows, she took the decision to end her life before getting a fair trial.

 

What I want to do is to look at the public’s reaction to this event and compare it to what I work with on a daily basis.  I am not writing this post to be controversial or jump on the bandwagon. I simply want to highlight that Caroline’s story is one which I work with on a daily basis and so it would be neglectful of my clients to not be a voice for them here..

 

“Just an argument with her boyfriend” 

 

If a person in the street suddenly punched you in the face how would you feel?  Most of us would take issue. So when a person you love does that, what changes?  This is the reality of domestic violence.

 

Domestic abuse is never to be belittled. More than that we can’t possibly understand the dynamics of their relationship because we are not in it. So many people stay in abusive relationships because they fear not being believed.  This type of statement confirms that fear for them.

 

I also fear that this is indicative of gender differences in terms of how domestic abuse is viewed.  There is still a view that only women can be victims of domestic abuse despite the growing evidence that the number of male victims is increasing year on year. This view does nothing to help either gender and completely ignores the many complex reasons domestic abuse occurs.  Having worked in child protection and with domestic abuse charities as well as having personal experience of domestic abuse and coercive control, I understand that chaotic relationships are never as simple as one bad guy, one good guy. When we make those sorts of assumptions, we are missing out on opportunities to take the time to understand. The view of a drunk husband coming home and battering his wife is outdated and society’s view needs to change too.

 

“ITV didn’t sack Ant McPartlin and Geoffrey Boycott got an OBE”

 

In the interest of a balanced discussion, I do want to address the perceived difference in the treatment Caroline received compared to these male counterparts.  I do think that ITV had a duty to act following her arrest but my understanding is that Caroline herself stepped down. What would have happened had she been found guilty (as McPartlin and Boycott were) we will never know.  However, I would like to make the point that people are more than one act. Ant and Geoffrey are well respected in their fields, they are friends and sons and husbands, and I personally do not feel that one incident detracts from that.  I understand their crimes are serious but if we wrote people off and effectively erased their achievements when they fuck up, are we not sending a clear message that suicide IS the only answer? Perhaps this is how Caroline felt. That this would haunt her forever.  I personally would like to believe that she would have been shown the same amount of forgiveness and acceptance as these men. But we will never know now.

 

What is the right solution in these situations? There is a petition calling for it to be a criminal offence for the British Press to “knowingly and relentlessly bully a person, whether they be in the public eye or not, up to the point that they take their own life” in the wake of this. I do understand why people feel the press played a part but I also think it is important to remember that there are so many different factors involved in why someone takes their own life and it would be almost impossible for it to be proven that the actions of the press “caused” the actions of an individual.  That takes away personal responsibility and choice. The press does have a duty to report and people do read these stories in papers and magazines. It’s hard to argue which came first – the story or the desire of the public to read about it.  

 

Also domestic abuse is a behaviour which has many different causes.  Just as any behaviour does. Is the woman who killed her children because she was mentally ill more or less guilty than the man who killed a child in a hit and run because he was over the legal limit for alcohol but was drinking because he was mentally ill?  Usually when there is socially unacceptable behaviour (murder, rape, domestic abuse, assault) there is some form of mental health issue. Understanding that can help with treatment and more importantly prevention. The same with suicide. If we simplify the reasons for someone taking their lives, we are likely to miss the answer to how to prevent this moving forward.

 

Finally public perception of crime is not always based on fact but on emotion and Caroline’s story is very emotive.  Because you felt like you knew her. But punishment is objective. Based on facts. And we simply do not know all of the facts so therefore it is impossible to propose a punishment.  In many ways, the public change in perception of individuals involved in these cases is a significant punishment in itself. Having people, strangers, making judgements about you, is incredibly painful. On top of that, it changes how they view themselves.  Many abusers exhibit very low self esteem and high self loathing which can cause or exacerbate mental health problems. The same is true for victims.  

 

“Ex has blood on his hands”

 

Again we don’t know what went on but if Lewis Burton was hit on the head during a row he is a victim and blaming the victim for the actions of the perpetrator is unacceptable. So many victims get told that they must have done something to deserve it.  Both by society, friends, professionals and their ex. They are constantly made to feel that they are in some way to blame. If they just hadn’t done or said X, Y or Z. Even if Lewis did do or say something wrong, no-one deserves to be abused. Guilt is often what keeps people in relationships.  Victims can feel like they haven’t done enough to help. That they must be the problem because they aren’t like it with anyone else. “Everyone else thinks they are wonderful so it must be me.” Part of their journey to recovery is accepting that we are all responsible for our own actions. The abuser is responsible for theirs.  Letting go of the need to rescue them and accept all responsibility can be hard. It’s a conditioned behaviour, often from childhood, and many victims believe that in order for them to receive love, they must please others. If someone isn’t pleased, it must be their fault. It’s a vicious cycle but one that can be broken. 

 

The reasons people make these decisions are complex and usually multifaceted. It is impossible to say it was the exes fault, the media’s fault, ITV’s fault or anyone else for that matter.  Only Caroline knows why she felt this was the best option.But she isn’t alone in this. Around one-in-eight of all suicides and suicide attempts by women in the UK are due to domestic abuse according to statistics (The Guardian May 2019).  A Cambridge research programme in A&E found that women who self-harmed were 75 times more likely to have suffered partner abuse  and men who self-harmed were over twice as likely to have suffered partner abuse. The psychological toll of domestic abuse is extremely high. 

 

90% of people who die by suicide have a mental health condition at the time of their death

 

In the work I do, many abusers, particularly those with abandonment issues, use the threat of suicide to keep their victims from leaving.  Suicide can be, and I am not saying it is in this situation, but it can be the ultimate act of control and manipulation. Leaving the victim with the guilt. 

 

The point I am making in all of this is that to blame one person (or entity) ignores the many different factors which influence someone’s decision to take their own life.  We don’t know what risk factors Caroline experienced, or understand her view of herself or her resilience or her support networks. There are just too many unknowns to simply say it is down to one thing and one thing alone.  If we hope to prevent suicide, it’s important we understand this.

 

“He didn’t want to pursue the charges” 

 

This is so common because victims are fearful and so they return to the abuser, begging police not to press charges for fear of the repercussions.  It takes a lot of courage to go through with pursuing charges. The victim may not be ready to end the relationship or may feel pressure from family, friends and the abuser to drop the charges.  The reality here is that IF Caroline did abuse Lewis, she was facing losing her career and reputation. The guilt of that could have been too much for Lewis or perhaps Caroline put pressure on him to drop the charges.  We simply do not know. But his behaviour is not uncommon.

 

domestic abuse prosecutions

More than 160,000 victims of domestic violence in England withdrew their support for charges against their abusers in 2016 (The Independent, 2017)

 

(source: The Daily Mail)

 

Lord Ken McDonald, former director of public prosecutions stated:

‘Most of the pressure groups around domestic violence are very voluble in saying the CPS should be building cases that don’t rely just on victim testimony.’ 

 

We could therefore assume that there must have been sufficient evidence from other sources for the CPS to be going ahead with a trial.  If we, as a society, want to tackle domestic abuse, we have to be consistent with our approach.  

 

“Innocent until proven guilty” 

 

I absolutely agree that this should be our stance on issues where we have no first hand experience of what went on.  But the reality is that we live in a society where people need an answer when something they are struggling to comprehend happens.  And the media feeds into that. The truth is we’re not very good at figuring out the causes of other people’s behavior and, as humans, it’s our default to always look for a cause.  Blaming someone else is an easy solution to both of these.  

 

Unless you have witnessed the abuse first hand, it is impossible to know the truth of a situation no matter how much you think you know the person/people involved.  Many abusive people use others to spread the false allegations and, in the work I do, engage police, domestic abuse charities, social services and court to further punish their ex. In my own situation, I only ever talked publicly about the abuse I experienced and reported, not what I was told from others.  As observers, it is easy to get caught up in the experience. Someone tells you their side of the story, encourages you to sympathise with them and before long you are sharing the story with your friends and family.  

 

False allegations are seemingly on the rise and can be incredibly damaging to someone’s life.  Once an allegation is made, it seems to obtain a life of its own, shared amongst family and friends, employers, police, teachers.  With court cases taking months to reach trial, it can put an enormous burden on the individual accused when the allegations are false.  People judging them without knowing the whole story and coming to conclusions about the type of person they must be. When their are children involved, it can lead to them having contact stopped.  So imagine that you had a row with your partner or ex, you find yourself called into the police station being accused of assault or domestic abuse, you try to tell your side of the story but are instead handed a non-molestation order and ordered to stay away from your ex and the children.  Your employer finds out, they suspend you and now you have no income. You could lose your job, your home and your children. Your friends try to be supportive but you can see they are looking at you differently. Your family are getting stick from their neighbours and the community. The children get referred to professionals so they can talk about it.  How would that feel? Seeing your whole life flipped upside down. Cut off from your children and ostracised by your employer, friends and sometimes family. This is parental alienation and it’s easy to see why suicide becomes a valid option.  

 

If one good thing comes out of this tragedy, wouldn’t it be nice if we all were able to respect the “innocent until proven guilty” rhetoric?

 

Final thoughts

 

Everyone views this from a different perspective. Caroline came across as being a “girl next door” kind of character. Everyone appeared to like her and she was very relatable.  Perhaps you could imagine yourself being friends with her or even felt that she was a lot like you. It can be really hard to then accept that she is capable of hurting another person because it would make you question your own view of yourself.  If she can do something like this, could you? It may therefore be easier to minimize the behaviour or even justify it. It’s perfectly natural and is a sign of empathy. However, true empathy is when we can see the situation from all sides and still be compassionate.

 

From another perspective, if you have experienced domestic abuse, you may feel angry with all the sympathy Caroline is receiving.  If you have had allegations made against you which were false, you may feel incredibly sympathetic towards her as you recognise in yourself how close you have come to suicide.  If your family member has chosen to end their life, you may feel guilty and even angry that she didn’t turn to someone for help. 

 

What we can learn

 

Caroline’s story (or what we know) is complex.  Domestic abuse is complex. Mental Health is complex. Suicide is complex. The response to her story is very indicative of many views held by society which is what I was seeking to address.  

 

The key points which I think we can learn are:

 

  1. Domestic abuse is rarely “just an argument” and belittling violence into those terms is dangerous.
  2. Men and women can be victims of domestic abuse – one in four women, one in 6 men are reported to be victims
  3. People are more than their mistakes and if we fail to see that are we advocating for suicide?
  4. The press has a duty to report and the public consumes the information. If you disagree with this type of reporting, think about how you consume information yourself and how you can make changes
  5. Mental health is misunderstood and there is still a stigma around it.  The more we understand it, the better we are equipped to deal with ourselves, others and the inevitable difficulties which crop up in life
  6. Rather than looking to blame anyone, focus on understand the reasons behind it
  7. Victim shaming and blaming is never OK
  8. Mental health, domestic abuse and suicide are inextricably linked.  We need to understand each individually as well as how they impact one another to prevent more tragedies
  9. We need a consistent approach to dealing with domestic abuse
  10. We should all assume innocent until proven guilty, regardless of our feelings on the matter
  11. Empathy and compassion is so important

 

My personal hope is that Caroline’s tragic death has opened the door to having real conversations about domestic abuse in households across the UK and abroad as well as within parliament buildings. This is where change will come and hopefully change lives and opinions. 

 

What’s your thoughts on this situation and domestic abuse? Have you experienced anything similar?

 

The post Caroline Flack’s Suicide And What It Has Taught Us About Public Attitudes Towards Domestic Abuse appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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5 Truths About Domestic Violence And Abusive Relationships

truths about domestic violence

 

Domestic violence and abuse are becoming an epidemic in today’s culture. It is estimated that 38,028,000 women will experience physical intimate partner violence at some point during their lives.

Men can fall victim to abusive relationships as well. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 10 American men have experienced physical violence, stalking, or rape inflicted by a partner. Another 1 in 7 men will be the victims of severe physical abuse at the hand of a romantic partner.

Whether the perpetrator is male or female, studies show that abusers often share the same traits of aggression, mood swings, no self-control, severe jealousy, and high rates of suspicion.

Are you or someone you know experiencing domestic violence and abuse? Here are 5 sobering facts about abusive relationships and what you can do to help.

5 Truths About Domestic Violence

TRUTH #1. It’s More Common Than We Think

Many people have a caricatured version of who they believe to be in an abusive relationship and that the abusive is obvious. That one spouse will be constantly yelling at their partner, or that bruises or other signs of physical abuse are apparent.

Perhaps they believe people in abusive relationships are from a lower socioeconomic background. But this simply isn’t true.

One sad truth about domestic violence and abuse is that they are much more common than one might think. It happens to children, teenagers, and adults, with nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experiencing physical abuse from a romantic partner each and every year.

It is estimated that 11,766 American women are killed every year by their husbands or boyfriends, which is more than the war in Afghanistan and Iraq combined.

Abusive relationships are common and it’s time to shed some light on the truth.

TRUTH #2. Your Spouse Becomes Extremely Possessive and Controlling

As mentioned at the onset, jealousy is a common trait of abusive relationships. Partners seek to control their spouse to prevent them from cheating. Abusers may use the following tactics to control their spouse:

  • Isolating spouse from friends and family in fear that close associates will help the victim leave the toxic relationship.
  • Threatening self-harm if a partner says they are ending the relationship
  • Resorting to physical violence to prevent a partner from socializing
  • Forcing a partner to quit their job so that they are financially reliant on the abuser

Such behavior can be traumatizing to the victim. It is estimated that 81% of women experiencing stalking, physical violence, or rape by an intimate partner will end up being injured physically or will develop some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

TRUTH #3. Abuse is More than Physical Violence

Physical abuse is clear to define. It occurs when one partner acts violently toward the other. Slapping, kicking, grabbing, pushing, beating, or using a weapon against a partner is clear-cut, unacceptable behavior.

But one truth about abusive relationships is that abuse hardly ends with physical violence.

Emotional abuse is a common method of control done by an abuser. Emotional abuse can take the form of insults, demeaning speech, making a partner feel crazy or stupid, bipolar mood swings, blaming a partner for poor behavior, and using religion or guilt to force a partner to stay.

Statistics show that 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men have been raped in their lifetime. This is a facet of an abusive relationship.

Sexual abuse is marked by any unwanted sexual advances or forced intercourse. Sexual control is another form of abuse, perhaps making a partner watch adult films or participate in sexual acts they are uncomfortable with. Refusing to allow a partner to practice safe sex or sexually humiliating or degrading a partner also fall under sexual abuse.

Domestic violence and abuse can also involve withholding food, shelter, and finances from a spouse.

TRUTH #4. Not all Abusive Relationships are Obvious

While it’s true that some abusers may be negative, controlling, uncaring people, many have positive qualities that draw victims in.

Abusers are commonly charming, loving individuals who will apologize for their bad behavior only to repeat it time and again. In some cases, the abuse may not start for some time. It may even be years. An abusive relationship may start off as loving and wonderful as the start of any normal relationship. This is what makes abusers so hard to spot.

TRUTH #5. Leaving Is Hard

Often, when one hears the intimate details of an abusive relationship they will ask “Why didn’t he/she just leave?”

The truth is, abusers, do not make it easy for their partners to leave the relationship. They have physically or mentally beaten down the victim until their self-esteem is nonexistent.

A spouse may feel they are not capable of leaving. Their abuser has told them that this is the best they will ever be able to do in life or may withhold finances, their children, or other provisions to prevent a separation from occurring.

It is also common for an abuser to enter a honeymoon phase after abuse has occurred. They may be on their best behavior for a time, apologizing to the wounded spouse and promising to change their ways.

A victim’s forgiving nature or love for their spouse may compel them to stay and help their partner.

Research indicates that a victim will attempt to leave an abusive relationship 7 times before leaving for good.

Leaving an abusive situation can be very dangerous, especially for women, with most violence and deaths occurring during an attempt to leave.

Visit the Domestic Violence Intervention Program for an extensive checklist for leaving an abusive relationship in the safest way possible.

Has your relationship turned toxic? It may be in your best interest to consider separation in marriage. Put the safety of you or your children first by getting out of an aggressive and unhealthy home. If you need help getting out of an abusive situation, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or text 1-800-787-3224

The post 5 Truths About Domestic Violence And Abusive Relationships appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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The Surprising Truth About Male Victims Of Domestic Violence

male victims of domestic violence

Domestic violence — and allegations of violence — can be one of the most toxic issues in contested divorces. Too often, rightly or wrongly, they are likely to result in fathers getting shut out of their children’s lives and men having to make larger child support and alimony payments.

The
standard scenario — from courtrooms to movies — is that the husband has been
physically and verbally abusive, scaring and hurting his wife, often in front
of their children. He’s the goon, and his wife deserves to be rid of him.

Certainly,
many women do tragically end up victims of domestic violence, but there are two
other scenarios that can be just as true, yet receive little attention.

The first is that allegations of domestic violence are what some family law attorneys call “the nuclear option.” Lawyers tell their clients to file papers to get an order of protection if they say they feel fear, and as a way to strengthen their case.

Similarly,
if their husband raises his voice — no matter who started the fight — divorcing
might call the police. Within minutes, a squad car will show up and, without
listening to both parties, an officer will tell the husband to get his shaving
kit and clothes and then escort him off the property.

It has been estimated that 85 percent of protective orders are entered against men, with most being used tactically to get the upper hand in a divorce. Aside from the effect that these orders can have on child custody, property division, and payments to an ex-wife, men who are innocent are stigmatized and records of these orders can be found by employers or when looking for a job.

But
it’s the second scenario that is the least discussed. This is when the wife is
the abusive or violent spouse, hitting their husbands, throwing things at them,
destroying their belongings, spewing so many four-letter words that a hardened
criminal would blush, and even pulling weapons on them. 

One in four men (compared to one in seven women) experience “severe physical intimate partner violence,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And this doesn’t include verbal or other forms of abusive behavior. The Mayo Clinic has also written about domestic violence against men.

While interviewing men for my book, “Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life,” I heard many disturbing stories. A mother told me that her son had almost been killed by his ex-wife and fled to her house. One man recalled how his wife threw glasses and plates at him and was verbally abusive to his son from his first marriage; then, if it weren’t so troubling it would be funny, she smashed the cat’s water bowl by using it as a weapon.

Why
don’t we hear more about men who are victims — either in court or in the media?

There are a number of reasons: 1) Men are more likely to commit the most heinous acts. 2) Most advocates against domestic violence have been women’s groups. 3) Centuries of storytelling, from Othello to Hannibal Lecter, have reinforced the narrative that men are the attackers and women are the victims. 4) Law enforcement almost automatically makes this assumption. 5) Many a man feels like a “sissy” to report that the bruise on his face came from a punch by his wife, which also suggests that the CDC data may underestimate the real toll.

So,
what should men do? First, don’t be afraid to report to the police any
incidents or patterns of violence and abuse by your wife toward you or your
children.

Collect
evidence: Take photos of a bruise or scratch, a punched-in wall, or broken
glass. If possible, record the audio on your smart phone.

If
there are witnesses, ask them if they can describe what they have seen or heard
to the police or your lawyer. Write down in detail what happened (or has been
happening).

Get
your own protective order. If your children have been abused, gather any
evidence you can and protect your kids.

Evidence
is especially important since police and courts often disbelieve men who say
that they have been victimized by their wives. Tell your attorney, who can use
this information to help your case. 

Although
no man or woman should be a victim of violence or other abusive behavior, if it
happens to you, documenting and reporting it can be critically important to
your divorce case and can make a big difference when it comes to custody and
financial matters.

Andrew L. Yarrow, a former New York Times reporter and history professor, discusses these and related issues in his recent book, Man Out: Men on the Sidelines of American Life.

The post The Surprising Truth About Male Victims Of Domestic Violence appeared first on Dads Divorce.

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Domestic Violence And Children: What Is The Impact?

domestic violence and children

 

Domestic Violence should never be taken lightly. While the severity may range, it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the situation. The way victims choose to respond varies as well. Some victims wait before seeking help, others may immediately look for guidance, and unfortunately, some may never even report the incident(s). It’s important to let those victims know though that there is support out there.

By allowing an abusive relationship to continue, you could be putting yourself and your family in an even worse position. When victims opt to not ask for help, it not only puts them in a bad situation but their children as well. We don’t always acknowledge how children tend to be indirect victims when it comes to domestic violence. Even if the kids aren’t the target for physical or abusive behavior in the home, they can still suffer socially and psychologically.

If you or someone you know is suffering through domestic violence with kids at home, it’s important to know there are people ready to help. Taking legal action can only benefit you and your kids when it comes to escaping the cruelties of domestic violence in the home.

Domestic Violence and Children Who Witness It

While victims of domestic violence take the brunt of the abuse, kids living in the home will suffer also. This is why getting in touch with a divorce lawyer is extremely important. While it may not always be physical, just being present during a negative situation can lead to problems in the future. The effect of observing domestic violence has on kids ranges. If your kids are living in a home with domestic violence, they may end up with some of the following issues:

  • They could develop their own violent tendencies
    • To others or even themselves
  • Experience feelings of anxiety and depression
  • Displaying delinquent behavior
    • Such as aggression towards their peers and family members
  • Struggle developing social skills
  • Stunted development of their motor and cognitive skills
  • Delays in speech development

While it may not be apparent to your child what’s actually going on, it will eventually begin to impact them negatively. Which will lead them to struggle in their adult lives. Issues the involve feeling safe or even forming relationships may arise as they grow up. They could also end up in abusive relationships themselves, due to the secrets and hush tendencies they witnessed in their homes throughout their adolescence.

The age difference:

Keep in mind that the negative effects we previously discussed may not always occur, depending on the age of your child. The stage of life your child is experiencing or witnessing abuse can lead to different issues or needs. For example, an infant who is present during an episode of domestic violence may experience attachment issues. This could lead to excessive crying as well as eating and sleeping difficulties.

Whereas a preschool-aged child may experience different effects after being present during episodes of domestic violence. At this stage of the child’s life, they are in need of protection and stability, which normally would be provided by their parent. Unfortunately though, when they live in a home where domestic violence is common, these needs become disrupted causing further emotional and physical outbursts.

Contact a lawyer:

In most cases of domestic abuse, there are legitimate grounds for divorce, especially if there are children are involved. As long as the victim(s) are actively reporting the incidents, they’ll have the right to leave the violent offender. By contacting a lawyer, you’ll obtain full custody of your children or child.

If you, or someone you know, is a married victim of domestic violence, with children there is a team of attorneys ready to help. A qualified professional can help you take action towards ending the abuse going on in your home by initiating the divorce process in a safe manner.

The post Domestic Violence And Children: What Is The Impact? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How Should Domestic Abuse Victims Handle Divorce?

domestic abuse victim

 

Domestic abuse typically occurs behind closed doors. If you have experienced continued emotional or physical abuse from your partner, do not remain silent any longer. It’s time for you to experience a sense of calmness and security; it’s time for a divorce.

If you are a domestic abuse victim seeking a divorce, you will need a compassionate yet professional lawyer by your side, every step of the way. They can help protect your rights as well as help you feel safe in your life even after the divorce has been settled.

Different types of abuse:

Abuse has been defined as a pattern of behavior displayed by one person in an effort to gain and maintain control over another. Take note that when we say a pattern of behavior, we mean that this is something that is occurring more than once. While it is easy to assume physical or violent behaviors when talking about abuse, it is important to know there are many different ways your partner can be abusing you.

You may not even realize that you have been experiencing abuse in your relationship if you only consider physical or violent behavior as abuse.

Below we’re going to discuss some of the behaviors your partner may be exhibiting that fall under the term abuse:

  • Physical Abuse – This can include punching, hitting, slapping, kicking, strangling, physically restraining someone against their will, driving recklessly with your partner in the car, or in general making someone feel physically unsafe.
  • Sexual Abuse – While sexual abuse can be physical, it can also be non-physical as well. This can include rape, forced sexual acts, withholding sex, using sex as a weapon or even to pass judgment or assign value. Not only can sexual abuse have an effect on your body, but it can take a huge toll on your emotions and mental state.
  • Verbal/Emotional Abuse – These types of abuse may be harder to spot, but using words against your partner can cause severe emotional damage that can take a long time to recover from. This can include spreading lies, calling someone stupid or ugly, or even talking down to your partner.
  • Mental Psychological – In this case, your partner is likely abusing you through actions or words that have been attacking your sense of mental health and wellbeing.
  • Financial/Economic – Abusers will find any way possible to maintain their control, this can include controlling your households budgeting, not allowing you to have access to accounts, withholding spending money, preventing you from having a job or earning your own money.
  • Cultural/Identity – You partner may be using your identity or cultural beliefs as a way to cause you to suffer or control you. This can include not allowing you to follow dietary customs, preventing you from dressing accordingly to your beliefs, using racial slurs, threating to out them to their friends and family.

How Should Domestic Abuse Victims Handle Divorce?

Where do I start?

If you are a victim of domestic violence, you need to find the courage within yourself to advocate for your own rights and happiness. The first thing to ask yourself is if you feel physically safe in the environment in which you live. If you live with your spouse and feel threatened by potential violence from your spouse, you must seek safety before anything else. You may wish to call the police. It is only after you feel safe that you should look into legal matters.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Once you are in a safe environment, it is best to begin your search for a lawyer as soon as possible. Seeking assistance quickly regarding divorce can help you battle legal matters and gain freedom in your life. You’ll be able to sort through the following topics:

  • Child Custody – It is likely that if someone is abusing their partner, they will potentially abuse their child sometime in their life. A lawyer can make sure both you and your child/children are protected from the abuser.
  • Division of Marital Property – In some cases, the behavior of the abuser can impact the outcome of how the property is divided, giving the victim the larger share.
  • Order of Protection – A lawyer can help you file for an order of protection against your abuser. It will state that your abuser cannot have contact with you. Having an order of protection can help you feel safe during and after the divorce process.

Seek Assistance:

Do not feel trapped in an unhealthy, abusive marriage. Muster up the courage to find a lawyer who supports you throughout the entire legal process in order to end your unhappiness and worry. Going through the court system can be an effective way to end your marriage as well as feeling like someone has your back during this time. Find the strength to save yourself from domestic violence and live the life you want.

It’s time to take action. If you or someone you know is caught up in an abusive relationship, know there is a way out. Asking for help shouldn’t be something you are afraid of. Get in touch with a legal team who cares about you, and your well being.

The post How Should Domestic Abuse Victims Handle Divorce? appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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Domestic Abuse Victim? Where To Find Help

domestic abuse victim

 

There is help if you are a victim of domestic violence!

“Look at this food you have fixed for me! Do you call this dinner? I wouldn’t even feed this to a dog!” he screams as he swings his lengthy arm across the table knocking the food onto the floor.

Quickly she kneels to the floor. Her eyes dare not to look at him for she knows what will happen. She picks up the broken plates with her shaking hands and holds back the tears until she is alone.

Suddenly, a blow to the back of her head causes her to fall unconscious to the floor. The room is dark. There are faint cries in the background. It is her youngest son. She knows she must get up. If she does not, she fears his anger will be redirected to her son. She struggles to open her eyes, but she cannot. She tries to move her arms, but they will not move. She wants to cry out to her son to comfort him, but the words will not come. Slowly her son’s cries become more distant and then…nothing.

Every three minute a woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend.

More women die from domestic violence than heart failure. Most abusive men have grown up in an abusive household.

Domestic violence happens every day. You are not alone. There is help out there.

Choosing to escape a violent relationship is scary. There are so many reasons you think of to stay. He might change or is just having a bad day. Maybe I should have done something better. Maybe it is all my fault. No one deserves to be abused in any form whether it is verbal or physical. And, statistics show that without help, an abuser will not stop and will only become more violent.

So you may be wondering how you will live. I do not know if I can afford it on my own. There are many sources out there willing to help you to get back on your feet in a safe environment.

Where will I go where he will not find me? He swore if I ever leave him he will kill me. You do not have to live in fear. There are many resources online, and you can find a local number to a crisis center in your phone book.

The first thing you need to do is to realize you are a domestic abuse victim.

Once you have done that then you need to make a plan.

When you get a chance to be alone, you can call the domestic violence helpline. They will offer you suggestions on what to do next. If you are in immediate danger call 911. If he is only in jail for a few hours then pack a bag and run to a shelter.

If that is not an option and you have the time to plan your escape then here are some suggestions to help you when you are ready. Pack a suitcase and hide it in a bus station or a friend’s house. Get a cell phone. A pre-paid cell has no contract, so there will not be any bill sent to your home. If you can stash a little money back if it means you have to tell him that you spent more at the store than you did.

Find a friend that you can trust. Whether it be a family friend or someone from the crisis center. Let them know of your plan and let them help you to make your getaway.

There are many support groups and advocate agencies out there. It is up to you to make the first step.

The post Domestic Abuse Victim? Where To Find Help appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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