Recognizing and Responding to Domestic Violence in Divorce Proceedings

While many survivors of domestic violence are able to leave their abusive relationships, others find it impossible. This is often because their abusers are so powerful that they manipulate and intimidate victims into believing that they can be abused without consequence.

One of the most important things a survivor can do is report her partner’s abusive behavior to authorities. Law enforcement can provide an order of protection, arrest the abuser, and connect victims with resources that can help them move on after their relationship has ended. Unfortunately, however, only a fraction of domestic violence survivors ever come forward and report their abuse.

During a divorce, family law attorneys need to be familiar with the ways that domestic violence can affect their clients’ cases. These effects are not limited to the victim, as they also impact the children in a family.

1. Injuries

Sadly, the most common form of domestic violence is physical abuse. This can include hitting, pushing, or any other form of force that inflicts harm on a victim. It can also include taking away food, water, or sleep; forcing victims to take drugs or alcohol; or denying them medical treatment.

2. Isolation

Survivors of domestic violence are typically isolated from their communities and friends, often in fear of their partners returning to the home. This can make it difficult for them to get support and counseling, which can be crucial in helping them recover from their trauma.

3. Size and Strength

Abusers tend to be large and strong. Abusers often use their height to intimidate their victims or to control them. In some cases, they may pretend to be afraid of their partner, but this is usually just a mask for manipulation and not real fear.

4. Who Is the Primary Parent?

DV often impacts custody disputes. In most cases, an abuser wants to deny a mother of her child care, or he is demanding she pay him for his share of the children’s time. These are easy to recognize, but court professionals often ignore these warning signs because of their heavy caseloads.

5. Isolation and Control

Despite their efforts to hide these behaviors, DV is a pattern of abuse that can continue until the victim decides to leave. It can include stalking, harassment, controlling who the victim talks to, and threatening them via phone, text message, and email.

6. Financial Control

During the course of a divorce, a lawyer may need to help their client negotiate a property settlement that includes assets and alimony from their abuser. This can be particularly challenging if the abuser has hidden his or her assets to avoid sharing them with the victim.

7. Sexual Abuse

Survivors of domestic violence are also susceptible to sexual assault. They can be raped or whipped by their spouses, or forced to perform sexual acts they do not want.

As a victim of domestic violence, you need to seek legal advice from a domestic violence attorney immediately after an incident occurs. This will help you ensure that you have the proper documentation to support your claims in court, and protect you from future assaults by your spouse. For more details on Miami domestic violence law visit