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A New COVID-19 Crisis: Domestic Abuse Rises Worldwide

The most unfortunate part of the coronavirus pandemic has been the deaths associated with people becoming ill. Without a doubt, we have seen some degree of excess death above what we would have come to expect in a “normal” year. it is one thing for us to talk about those deaths as statistics, but it is quite another thing to talk about them if you have a loved one who fell ill and passed away. On behalf of our entire office, if you are a friend or family member of someone who is passed due to the Corona virus our most sincere condolences go out to you and your loved ones. It cannot be easy two here about the deaths associated with the virus especially when you knew one of those people very well. 

Obviously, preventing people from getting sick and dying from coronavirus has been our nation's number one objective since early March. The degree to which we have succeeded at this endeavor has appeared to increase overtime. It seems as though better treatments, more preparation and even a change in the virus itself has contributed to this trend. People are still wisely taking precautions, but my feel is around most places in our area there is not as much trepidation or fear as there was in March or April. It may just be that many of us are just used to the feel of living in a pandemic and are more comfortable going about our lives as normally as possible. 

The deaths associated with the virus are one thing but the collateral damage from the virus is something else altogether. If you look at the group of people , for instance, who suffered the most excess deaths of any age group it has been those between the ages of 25 and 44. You can go to the Center for Disease Control and look at their statistics for excess death and see that this group of young people suffered to such a large extent not necessarily because of the virus directly. Rather, this group suffered what is likely going to be deaths by despair disproportionate to their actual risk of serious illness or death due to the virus itself. 

Different people will classify a death by despair in a different way, but I would tell you that death by despair are deaths related to mental impairments in problems associated with job loss, fear of becoming ill, loneliness, isolation and things of that nature. These are people who lost employment because of the government mandated lockdowns, lost family members and became despondent at the thought of themselves or someone else they know getting sick or people that just were not able to adapt to the rapid changes in society since the beginning of March. These deaths by despair contributed heavily to the overall numbers of people who can be said to have passed away due to this virus. 

Our country in our world was certainly in an unenviable position in the early parts of this year. Government leaders in health officials had to balance the need for society to March on as best possible with the need to protect its citizens especially those who are the most vulnerable to a virus like this. I'm sure if he asked many government leaders, they would change the way they did things from the beginning part of the pandemic until where we are right now. However, they will not be able to go back to change any other actions and the lives that have been lost could be argued as evidence that mistakes were made along the way. 

The harm brought about both by pandemic as well as our response to it ventures well beyond the total number of deaths or excess deaths. In the world of Texas family law, our office in other law practices have seen a dramatic increase in the number of divorces that have been filed. This is true not only in Southeast Texas but across the state, across the country and all over the world. These are divorces that may well have occur at some point in the future but the fact that we have been ordered to remain at home for the most part very much speed up the process by which these divorces were filed in my opinion. People came face to face on a daily basis with the problems in their marriage and many were ill equipped to respond positively to them. 

As a result, more practices such as ours are busier than normal in representing people who are interested in going through a divorce. The courts in Harris County and throughout Texas are largely running at normal processing speeds unlike the beginning parts of this pandemic. In other words, if you want to get a divorce in Texas you can proceed at full steam ahead with few limitations to your ending a marriage. For some of you this may be necessary but for others you may be able to avoid this fate. 

I would like to discuss with you today how domestic violence has become an increasing factor in divorces but to begin with, I would like to discuss how you and your spouse can avoid getting a divorce in the 1st place. If you sense that anger and hostility has become two relevant to your family, then you will especially want to pay close attention to what we discussed today. I would like to think that much of the advice I give to you will be helpful and my moving this sort of hostility in a relationship that can lead to violence and eventually divorce. 

Let me begin by telling you that none of what I tell you today or suggest to you in this blog post takes the place of keeping yourself and your family protected in an immediate sense. Yes, I would like to think that the information I provide is helpful on a general level to helping avoid Inter marriage disputes and problems that can lead to violence, abuse or divorce. However, I'm not operating under the assumption that these words can replace a solid plan to keep your family safe if violence occurs in the home. There are many resources out there for you to take advantage of as far as learning about how to keep your family safe from domestic or family violence. You should make yourself aware of those recommendations and put into place practical measures in your own home to help keep everyone safe during these times. 

Identify problems in a marriage and becoming intentional about solving them 

One thing that I will tell people quite frequently is that it is certainly possible to wander your way into a divorce. This is true whether or not you are the party who actually files for divorce. Either way, an interest in solving the problems of your marriage can lead to you either having to respond to a divorce petition or can lead to you filing for divorce in the 1st place. Either way, you will find that you will need to become intentional at some point in your life when it comes to the problems in your marriage period you can either become intentional about solving those problems before divorce becomes necessary or you will need to become intentional about solving the problems within a divorce so that your marriage can come to an end sooner rather than later. 

Let's approach this issue proactively and create a plan for you to be intentional about saving your marriage. For most of us, the problems in our marriage can be solved with communication. At this point we have to pause and determine the degree to which you are able to communicate with your spouse. Some of the problems in your marriage can be solved by direct communication beginning right now. Ironically, it is possible to feel alone or isolated even when you are married and even when you spend a great deal of physical time with your spouse. If you all are not connecting with one another emotionally then you can feel distant from spouse even if he or she is in the same room as you. 

If this describes your situation then you and your spouse just need to take time out from your day to spend together talking about whatever it is that you are interested in or doing. One thing that marriage counselors will recommend to couples at the beginning of counseling sessions is 2 began to create a household budget or develop projects to complete with your spouse. For instance, if your house has never been on a budget before then you should look into creating one starting now. There will be challenges associated with doing this but in creating a budget you and your spouse are essentially forcing yourselves to work together on a common goal. This can go a long way towards rebuilding a connection that may have been lost overtime. 

Another way to rebuild broken bonds of intimacy with your spouse is to think up a common goal or a project that needs to be completed and then work on creating the steps necessary to achieve that goal. These can be goals to simply organize your home or make a simple repair in the house or can relate to your children. For instance, last year my wife and I had a goal to get our daughter reading by time she turned 4 years old. Her birthday is in December, so in August we began working on a lesson book that was showing her the basics of reading. We were both committed to the project and worked with our daughter on a daily basis to achieve this goal. By time her birthday came around in December our little one could read basic children's story books and she has improved by leaps and bounds throughout this year. 

My point is, you and your spouse do not need to be completely comfortable with talking through your feelings and emotions in order to save your marriage from the brink of divorce. On the contrary, all you need to be able to do is show some willingness to connect with him or her through the completion of a project, a household budget or something similar. These are incredibly practical steps that you can take that will benefit your household and can help you all build strong bonds in your marriage. Of course, you can utile eyes your own experiences in your marriage to build bonds whichever way you see fit. However, patient has to be the first step in that process. 

Learning to communicate with the assistance of a counselor or therapist

On the other hand, your marriage may require more hands-on assistance from someone other than yourself or your spouse. The problems in your marriage may go beyond a loss of communication skills or even ambivalence towards the relationship. You may have experienced some degree of infidelity be it physical or financial or may even have experienced violence within the marriage. These are very serious situations that can certainly lead directly to a divorce. With that said, working with a marriage counselor or therapist may be beneficial on a number of levels. 

As we discussed earlier in today's blog post, one of the side effects of being at home more this year than ever before has been that spouses have nowhere to escape to when problems are ongoing in the marriage. This can be both a good and bad thing. It is a good thing in that you cannot suppress the obvious signs of a problem in a marriage and are therefore more likely to take action to improve your marriage period on the downside, if the problems in your marriage become physical or relate to violence it is more likely that you will become a victim of violence or will perpetrate violence upon your spouse. 

How can you overcome these problems? I am going to write the remaining portion of today's blog post from the perspective of you as the spouse who has been the victim of violence. The reason for this is that I can relate to you what I have learned from other people as far as effective tools to keep yourself in your family safe. This can be step by step instructions and information that will help you to develop a plan to keep yourself safe. From my perspective, it makes more sense to write this way than to attempt to have me analyze the thoughts of an abusive spouse. However, if you are a person who has a history of abusing your spouse That is absolutely something that you need to seek treatment and help for immediately. 

In the event that you become concerned about being abused by your spouse and you should take some immediate precautions to keep yourself safe and perhaps even leave the home if necessary. In the world of Child Protective Services, the state agency and the parents of an abused or neglected child will develop what is called a safety plan. This safety plan will discuss how the parties involved will work to create a safe environment at home for the children in hopes of reunifying them with their parents. For you in an abusive marriage they safety plan most seek to do some of the same things. 

The first thing I would do if you are being abused is to make sure you and your children are safe. Despite the ongoing pandemic there are shelters and other places for you to turn in the event that you need to leave the home. You should have a list of these places ready and have been in contact with them previously about the availability of a place for you and your family stay on a short-term basis. In the alternative, you should make sure that you have people in your life who are aware of your circumstances and who may be willing to lend a hand to provide you shelter and protection on a short-term basis. 

Next, I would always keep a bag of clothes, essentials another personal items ready to go in the event that a situation at home becomes violent. This also means that car keys should be in an obvious place where you can take them any spare set ready if need be. Make sure that your car is always fueled up and that your children are ready to leave at the drop of a hat. If the situation becomes serious enough you should practice leaving the home with your kids just as you would practice leaving the home in the event of a fire. 

Questions about the material contained in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained 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 consultation six days a week in person, over the phone and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as about the services that our office came provide to you as a client of ours. 


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