Writing about domestic abuse is extremely difficult to do. From my perspective, it is difficult for a couple of reasons. For one, I have never been involved in a situation involving domestic abuse personally. I don’t know the ends and outs of what plays into a domestic abuse relationship and the difficulties victims face and their families. The other main problem is that the subject matter is stomach-churning and causes a great deal of uneasiness to read and write about the subject. Overall, I can think of few situations involving family law that are worse for the people involved than domestic abuse.
It goes without saying that if you are in an abusive marriage or relationship, then you have options to remove yourself and your children from those scenarios. one of the excellent parts of living in a big, Metropolitan area like Houston is that you have a community in law enforcement resources to assist you from being a continued victim of domestic abuse. I am not naive enough to believe that all it takes is a simple decision to say that you want to remove yourself from a relationship, but I also am aware that there are resources to help you. The decision to no longer be a victim, and two instead creates a new path for yourself is one that you have the power to take. As they say: the first step in a 1000-mile journey is the most difficult.
From an essential safety perspective, you should familiarize yourself with programs, shelters, and other available resources as a victim of domestic abuse. Learning about these resources is not when it is too late or when you need to take advantage of them. The time for you to learn about these resources is now when you have an opportunity and when you are not in immediate harm’s way. Take advantage of whatever opportunities are provided to you to familiarize yourself with places to go when you are in need.
In the short term, catching that may mean looking up resources without using a computer or cell phone. Do not put yourself in a situation where an Internet search can create a history of searches that allows your abusive partner to confront you. Instead, utile eyes phone books color other people in the community, family members or friends, and other methods that your partner will not have ready access to prepare for an exit from your household.
This also means creating a safety plan for yourself and your children. Again, from what I understand after speaking with people involved in abusive relationships, a domestic abuse scenario does not play out as it does in the movies. I envision a situation where a victim can see the abuse coming and has a minute or two to run around the house, collect their belongings and children and then leave. The reality is that if violence occurs in the home, it is much more out of the blue and gives you much less time to prepare for it.
Start by collecting clothes, toiletries, and other essentials for you and your children. Please keep them in a bag hidden from your abusive partner. You should have these items ready to go at a moment’s notice. Thinking that you can collect them on your way out the door in a frantic state is not an intelligent plan. Nobody will blame you for any of the problems you encounter as a victim of domestic abuse. However, that does not mean you bear no responsibility in Devising a plan and sticking to it when it comes to removing yourself and your children from the risk of harm.
The next thing you should do is come up with an exit strategy on how to leave your house quickly and with minimal harm done to you or your children. It’s sad, unfortunate that I even have to talk about this sort of thing in a blog post. However, I have come to find out that abusive relationships necessitate this degree of planning from the partner who is the victim. With that said, you should familiarize yourself with ways to get out of the house and keep yourself from being pinned into a corner or trapped in a room where the harm to you may be its most excellent. From what I have read online and from having spoken to people, you should avoid rooms with multiple complex services, such as your bathroom and the kitchen, which store many sharp objects that can be used as a weapon against you. It is surreal to talk about terrible subjects like this in a family law blog, but this is the reality that some of our friends and neighbors face daily.
Another aspect of this discussion is that the coronavirus pandemic has contributed directly to increases in domestic abuse in households. One of the unintended consequences of these government-led economic shutdowns and stay-at-home orders is that people are forced to be in the home more than ever before. When you live with an abusive partner, this can be especially dangerous. Even if you are not physically being abused every day, you may be the daily victim of verbal and emotional abuse. Over time, emotional and verbal abuse can break a person’s self-esteem and limit your ability to react when the risk of physical abuse confronts you.
I hope this was an informative and reasonably intelligible introduction to today’s blog post. I want to talk about how an abusive spouse or partner may use children as amines to control you in your relationship. Ultimately, what domestic abusers truly seek is to prevent you. Typically, domestic abusers are threatened when their partner shows autonomy concerning their decisions, habits, and thought processes. Violence and abuse is the mechanism by which that partner exerts control over you and your relationship. If you have children, then you can expect that that partner would use those children as a means to control you, even if that doesn’t mean the children will be harmed physically.
How children can be used as a tool to control you in an abusive relationship
As I mentioned a moment ago, what your abusive partner or spouse once to get out of their relationship is control. They likely have significant issues regarding management in their life and wants to feel like they are in charge of everything that is going on. To an extent, many of us feel the need to reach out for control of our circumstances, especially in uncertain times like the ones we are living through right now. However, thankfully very few of us go to the lengths and that abusers do in attempting to control their circumstances.
At this point, when a person is willing to harm you to search for that control physically, they are capable of doing anything that will further that goal. Manipulating you and your children to achieve that level of control is precisely the sort of thing that I believe an abuser would do. For one, if your abuser believes that you are trying to exit their relationship or marriage and physically exit your home, the abuser may tell you that your children will not survive without them. This puts you in a difficult spot because you may not be working and may not be in a position where you can currently provide for your children without the financial assistance of your abusive partner. In this way, the abusive partner keeps you in the relationship and uses your children as a means to do so.
Like I mentioned at the outset of today’s blog post, I understand that there are legitimate reasons why you may have difficulties in trying to exit an abusive relationship. Those difficulties may be emotional or physical. Your passionate desire to maintain stability for your children, even at that stability is to the detriment of your health, is a genuine concern that I believe some people in abusive relationships face. Couple that with the inability to provide for yourself financially due to your status as a stay-at-home parent. You have a recipe for stretching out a dangerous relationship indefinitely.
Parental alienation is also an unfortunate byproduct in many circumstances involving domestic abuse. Suppose the domestic abuse itself wasn’t bad enough. In that case, the domestic abuser may manipulate your children into thinking that you were the parent who was the protagonist in all of the bad behavior. For instance, your partner could repeatedly tell your children that you are selfish or only wanted what was best for yourself and did not consider your children’s needs. Parental alienation can occur in a multitude of different ways; it is not limited to reality. Your abusive partner may attempt to alienate your children from you to restrict your ability to remove them from home with you.
What can you do if your partner is manipulating your children?
Being in an abusive relationship where your partner attempts to use your children to control your relationship while being harsh with you is a bad situation. It would help if you were intentional about how you go about protecting yourself and your children from future harm. It is unrealistic to expect that you will be able to wander your way out of a difficult circumstance like this. However, if you are intentional about devising a plan to remove yourself and your children from a dangerous household, you are more likely to be successful.
The first thing that I would mention to you is to ensure that you maintain your relationship with your children. Your first instinct may be to retreat and do whatever you can to protect yourself during this time in that may actually because you too not engage as fully in your relationship with your children. I think this is a mistake both in the short term and long term. In the short term, it puts your children in a position where they are more likely to be manipulated by an abusive partner. In a long time, if you believe that you are the parent who will have to shoulder most of the responsibilities associated with caring for the child, then you are harming yourself from the perspective that your children may lose trust in you in the long term.
Take advantage of opportunities to be proactive about how you can protect your children and yourself. Do not assume that you have no options or that there are no resources available to you. The fact is that no matter how dire your circumstances are, there are resources available to you, and I can offer assistance. Continue to build your relationship with your kids, help them process information as it comes, and be prepared to execute an exit strategy when and if your circumstances allow it.
Questions about the material presented in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about the material presented in today’s blog post, please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free of charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are an excellent way to learn more about Texas family law in our law office’s services to you as a client. We thank you for your interest in our blog. We hope you will join us again tomorrow as we share more unique and original content regarding Texas family law.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.