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 and I don't know the ends and outs of what plays into a domestic abuse relationship and the difficulties that victims face, and their families face as well. The other main difficulty is that the subject matter is stomach churning and causes a great deal of uneasiness to both read and write about the subject. Overall, I can think of few situations involving family law that are worse for the people involved then 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 nice parts about living in a big, Metropolitan area like Houston is that you have 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 a basic safety perspective, you should familiarize yourself with programs, shelters, and any other resources that are available to you as a victim of domestic abuse. The time to learn about these resources is not when it is too late or when you actually 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 so that you can Familiarize yourself with places to go when you are in need.
In the short-term caught that may mean looking up resources without even having use of 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. Rather, 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 in order 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 having spoken with people that have been involved in abusive relationships a domestic abuse scenario does not play out like it does in the movies. I'm envisioning 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. I think 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. 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 a smart plan. Nobody is going to 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 that 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, truly sad, 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 to keep yourself from being pinned into a corner or trapped in a room where the harm to you may be its greatest. From what I have read online and from having spoken to people you should avoid rooms with multiple hard services, such as your bathroom, and also the kitchen which stores 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 on a daily basis.
Another aspect to this entire 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 so than ever before. When you are living with an abusive partner this can be especially dangerous and period even if you are not physically being abused every day, you may be the victim of verbal and emotional abuse on a daily basis. Over the course of time emotional and verbal abuse can break a person's self-esteem and limit your ability to react when you are confronted by the risk of physical abuse.
I hope this was an informative and reasonably intelligible introduction to today's blog post. What I would like to talk about specifically is 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 control you. Typically, domestic abusers are threatened when their partner shows autonomy in regard to 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 actually 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. He or she very likely has significant issues regarding control in their life and wants to feel like he or she is 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 physically harm you in order to search for that control, he or she is capable of doing anything that will further that goal. Manipulating you and your children in order to achieve that level of control is exactly 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 be able to survive without him or her. 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 in nature. Your emotional desire to maintain stability for your children, even at that stability is to the detriment of your health, is a real 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 and you have a recipe for stretching out a dangerous relationship indefinitely.
Parental alienation is also an unfortunate byproduct in many circumstances involving domestic abuse. If the domestic abuse itself weren't bad enough, the domestic abuser may actually be able to manipulate your children into thinking that you were the parent who where is the protagonist in all of the bad behavior. For instance, your partner could tell your children on a repeated basis that you or selfish, or only wanted what was best for yourself and did not consider the needs of your children. In fact, 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 in order to limit your ability to remove them from the home with you.
What can you do if your partner is manipulating your children?
Being in an abusive relationship where your partner is attempting to use your children to control your relationship while also being abusive with you is a bad situation all around. You need to be 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 then you are more likely to be successful.
The first thing that I would mention to you is to make sure that you are maintaining 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 the 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 the long term, 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 bad your circumstances are there are resources available to you and I can offer assistance. Continue to build your relationship with your kids, help them to process information as it comes and be prepared to execute an exit strategy when and if your circumstances allow for it.
Questions about the material presented in today's blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
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