Domestic violence is on the rise, especially with people losing their jobs, losing their incomes, and facing a drastic reduction in lifestyle as is happening too frequently in ‘09. The following are nine issues to consider with regard to domestic violence:
9. Domestic violence consists of physical abuse, and if there is physical abuse, call the police at once.
8. Domestic violence includes using economic abuse. This can include preventing someone from getting, keeping, or leaving a job, damaging someone’s credit rating, making a spouse ask for money, destroying checkbooks, credit cards, money or property, giving a spouse an allowance. Domestic violence can include using coercion or threats. Threats are statements which promise negative consequences for certain behaviors or actions; for example, I’ll kill you if you ever leave me.”
7. Using intimidation. Making a spouse or significant other afraid by using looks, actions, gestures, intoxication, silent treatment, smashing things, destroying property, harming pets, displaying weapons, yelling, stalking, slamming doors, driving recklessly, acting crazy, invincible, or like I have nothing to lose.
6. Using emotional abuse. Putting someone down, making someone feel bad about themself, calling someone names, making someone think she’s crazy, playing mind games, humiliating someone, making her feel guilty, using things that matter to her against her, negatively comparing her to others, expecting perfection, unreasonable demands or expectations.
5. Using others. Using the children to relay messages. Using visitation to harass someone. Threatening to take the children away. Using custody of the children as leverage. Abusing the children. Sexual abuse of the children. Kidnapping the children. Degrading the spouse or significant other about her relationships. Using your job, friends, family, religion as leverage.
4. Using isolation. Controlling someone’s access to resources such as birth control, reproductive choice, medical attention, money, education, employment opportunities, family, friends, transportation, phone use. Using jealousy to justify actions. Embarrassing her in front of others. Kidnapping her. Convincing her that seeing her family or friends is harmful to the relationship.
3. If any of these occur, even when there is no police involvement, seek domestic violence counseling. There are domestic violence counselors and counseling agencies throughout the United States. There are hotlines to handle crisis calls.
2. Obtain a personal protection order. Laws in Michigan and many other states include personal protection orders that can be obtained if you are fearful of physical violence from someone and have a factual basis with previous incidents for your concerns. A personal protection order is a court order prohibiting a person from any, some, or all of the following, including: assaulting, stalking, following, entering the property, removing minor children, threatening to kill or physically injure someone, interfering with someone at his or her place of employment, purchasing or owning a fire arm.
1. Talk to an attorney at once. Find out what your legal rights are, and find out what you can do to protect yourself. If there is a need for a divorce, make sure that you are fully protected because a divorce where there is domestic violence is handled in a much more discreet and careful manner than a normal divorce where everyone is on the same page. Over the years in my career, I have had people murdered and horribly, physically and emotionally abused, based upon domestic violence. I take it very seriously. Make sure that your attorney not only has a background in family law, but is also familiar with issues in domestic violence.