Few topics in family law (and criminal law) are as socially uncomfortable as domestic violence. It is a problem that impacts millions of families, yet talking about it feels taboo to most people. Unfortunately, silence around the issue of domestic violence allows it to continue.
In a recent news article, National Public Radio interviewed two victim advocates who shared some truths about domestic violence, those who perpetrate it and those it impacts. We'll discuss some of those findings in today's post.
Why doesn’t she/he just leave?
From the outside, this is a reasonable question. One of the reasons why abuse victims don’t leave is that abuse is an escalating process. Things may be great at first, but the physical, emotional and psychological violence slowly begin to get worse. By the time it gets really bad, the couple may have children together, commingled finances and other situational entanglements that make it hard to leave.
Eventually, many abuse victims are able to get out of these relationships. But leaving also tends to be a process. It may take time and a lot of support from the outside.
Changing Her/his story
After the police or courts have gotten involved, it is very common for victims to recant their testimonies. It happens in as many as 70 to 80 percent of cases. Unless the allegations were flimsy to begin with (which they sometimes are), recanting usually happens because the victim fears her abuser. She knows that she’ll have to deal with him again, and worries about what will happen if she doesn’t change her testimony.
This is why it is so important for victims to seek protective orders and work with an attorney who can advocate strongly for them throughout the process.
Narcissism often drives abusers, not just anger
Many abusers are not simply normal people with hair-trigger tempers. In fact, it is common for abusers to be socially gregarious and charming. Underneath that façade, however, is the need for power and control, as well as a sense of entitlement about what a spouse or significant other owes to them.
Narcissism is a disorder that, unchecked, can make a person dangerous even to members of their own family. If and when a couple gets divorced, evidence of this disorder should be a factor in any child custody proceedings.
Domestic violence creates a toxic, dangerous family dynamic, which is why it is so often a factor in divorce and custody cases. If you are a victim of domestic violence and are seeking a new beginning, please discuss your concerns with a family law attorney who is highly knowledgeable about domestic violence and will advocate for you and your children.