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Dealing with Domestic Abuse

Dealing with Domestic Abuse | Divorce Strategies NW

Domestic Abuse: Getting Out and Healing

Domestic Abuse takes on many forms. The ugly secrets often hide in the shadows and behind closed doors, but the lasting scars are real, for both adults and children. Understanding abuse and admitting you are a victim can be a daunting process predicated by shame and fear. The tremendous courage it takes to leave an abusive situation is validated with freedom, but this takes time, tenacity and support to achieve.

If you are managing a situation that is threatening, violent, or abusive, the process of divorce can be even more daunting to consider, fathom and endure. Change is scary— it can be overwhelming even knowing where or how to begin. Emotions, habits, and fear can take over, sending you back to the pattern of abuse. Our team can help you begin the process to escape this unhealthy cycle.

The fear of the unknown causes many people to stay in abusive situations. There are resources available for someone considering leaving, and for those who are unsure of their options. We understand the fear, hurt and shame you may experience if you have a spouse who has become threatening, abusive or violent, during the process of divorce. In most cases, the abuse is not new but may become exacerbated, when the relationship is changing.

A key reality to internalize is that nothing you do warrants abusive behavior of any kind.

The fear of retaliatory abuse can be overwhelming, as you consider your personal safety today, tomorrow and in the future. If you have minor children to protect, the fear and anxieties are compounded, as you worry and wonder about what divorce will look like, with an abusive ex-spouse. We are sensitive to how painful and intensely private these issues can be, and we can relate to the conflicted feelings and fear you may have. Living with habitual abuse is unhealthy for everyone, even those around you (similar to how secondhand smokers suffer).

A life of freedom awaits you— we can help!

Support and Guidance

Our team provides resources, experience, and confidential leadership, during this emotional time of uncertainty. Our team will help you understand your situation, assist you with requesting protection for you and your children, seek restraining order(s) (if needed), and carefully help you find the right support for you and your family. This can be a traumatic, intimidating process. You are valuable and we are here for you.

Seeking professional therapy is an essential part of understanding and healing from domestic abuse. We have researched and compiled a cadre of local resources focused on a variety of specialties, styles and costs. Most therapy is covered by health insurance, at least in part. Our network of local providers accepts health insurance, to help defray costs and maximize your healing. We work closely with our clients to find the professional support they need.

Additional Resources

Domestic violence often brings legal concerns into survivors’ lives. For the first time, an individual may need to figure out how to secure an order of protection, navigate child custody and divorce, understand criminal charges, property rights, or file legal motions regarding employers and housing. It can be overwhelming. 

The Syms Legal Momentum Helpline is a unique resource for anyone looking for legal help, focusing on gender-based discrimination and violence in education, employment and the home. Individuals facing legal issues, including survivors, as well as attorneys, can contact the Helpline via email, an online web form or phone. When prompted, callers provide a brief summary of their issue and submit a request for legal assistance. The Helpline is not a live service like a hotline, but will return inquiries within two business days.

Each year, Legal Momentum takes on a handful of groundbreaking cases themselves. Additionally, they provide hundreds of people with referrals, informal advocacy and information. They aim to provide callers with a referral to an organization in their county or state that can provide legal help to survivors seeking supportive services such as creating a safety plan, finding transitional housing, securing an order of protection or obtaining representation for a divorce or child custody hearing involving a domestic violence situation. 

As part of this referral process, they often provide informal advocacy. For instance, they may look at the details of the case and provide information about laws and rights, which may help survivors advocate for themselves. Their perspectives can help survivors know what kind of lawyer they need and the best course of action for their case. 

Hiring a lawyer is expensive, and it can be hard to know whom to trust. A survivor may wonder:

As an example, a survivor may be thinking about an order of protection only when they could also consider filing criminal charges or protecting child custody or property rights. The helpline can also let survivors know about their rights as an employee facing domestic violence.

She mentions that while the organization gears its advocacy and services to women and girls, they “focus on issues involving gender-based discrimination. This means that if a man calls seeking assistance on a relevant case, for example, he was retaliated against or terminated or prevented from taking parental leave by his employer, we would certainly assist him.” 

Most people feel overwhelmed when they are facing legal challenges. Speaking with someone who understands their situation and can orient them seems to make all the difference in the world. They usually are not sure about their options or even—sometimes—what kind of lawyer they need. We can help. 

Below, find additional resources to help with legal dilemmas related to domestic violence.

More Resources for Legal Help

  • Avvo.com has online guides to various aspect of domestic violence including information on custody, orders of protection, and filing criminal charges. (Be aware that attorneys pay for their listings on Avvo.com).
  • The Battered Women’s Justice Project website contains tremendous information and resources for survivors and their attorneys concerning every imaginable aspect of domestic violence. Although the name of the project has the word “women” in it, the materials are relevant to all who are impacted by domestic violence (including trafficking and coercive control). 
  • FreeFrom is a national organization that aims to “dismantle the nexus between intimate partner violence and financial insecurity.” The primary service they offer survivors, at this point, is their Compensation Compass, which survivors can log into to find financial support. 
  • The National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project website has numerous resources, trainings, frequently asked questions, and the text of federal and state laws related to immigrant women. Here, immigrant women can learn how to apply for a U visa, and much more.
  • The Victims of Crime Resource Center website contains a range of resources related to victims of domestic violence (as well as sexual assault, child abuse, etc.). They offer state-by-state information about relevant laws and a toll-free number and a live chat for additional help.
  • WomensLaw, a website of the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), has a list of state laws, local organizations, and even court forms that may be able to help you with your specific concerns. Their motto: “Plain language legal information for victims of abuse.

Your community domestic violence agency can also probably make a solid local referral, including, sometimes, lawyers who will work with you for free (“pro bono”) on your domestic violence-related case. Search for a domestic violence program in your area here. But sometimes, survivors will still struggle to find help. 

This link will provide you with even more resources for legal assistance. Most survivors tangle with the legal system for the first time when they are trying to break away from a domestic abuser. Please know, you do not have to do it alone—there are people out there who can help.

Let us help you!

If you need help, please feel free to contact us. We will get back to you within one business day. If you prefer to talk, please feel free to call us.
Call : 425.329.6579

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Dealing with Domestic Abuse | Divorce Strategies NW

When the Need Is Immediate

Domestic abuse is traumatic, emotional and confusing. You may feel desperate to get out, but fearful to leave. The decisions are complex, the future is uncertain and the pain is real. When the dynamic begins to change at home, your spouse’s abusive behavior may escalate and they may become “unhinged”. There are many options to support those managing an unpredictable and volatile situation. You are not alone!

The time of separation can be a dangerous time for victims of domestic abuse. There is key information that is important to know, as you work to extricate safely from an abusive relationship.

  • If you feel afraid for your personal safety, or that of your children, 911 should be your first call— this includes verbal threats. There is no shame in calling the police.

  • Make local law enforcement aware of your current situation. During the day, visit your local police precinct. Share with an officer the location of your home, describe your current situation, provide the history of violence and/or threats, physical description of your spouse, vehicle(s) and any/all weapon(s)— details, current photos are helpful.

  • Try to minimize contact with your spouse, via text/phone and in person. Ongoing communication incites increased tension, and provides opportunities for more abuse to occur. Don’t engage…. short, factual communication with no emotion is best. Minimal contact regarding logistics should be the only reason for communication during this tenuous time. 

  • If your spouse has a history of abuse (verbal or physical), try not to be alone with them. If you have shared custody, try to have a friend, neighbor or family member with you during times of transition. This takes advance planning, but can decrease the trauma on you and your family, as assaults (verbal or physical) are less likely to occur when an adult witness is present.

  • Helpful resources for acute support:

  • National resources for specific needs:

WA Listens is a statewide support program implemented due to the impacts of COVID-19. Anyone feeling stressed, anxious and/or lonely can call WA Listens at (833) 681-0211 to speak with a support specialist or visit https://www.walistens.org

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