Domestic Violence: This Changes Everything

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Word cloud for domestic violence with words about the issueDomestic violence is a difficult topic to discuss.

Yet it must be asked about when a marriage is ending because, if it exists in the relationship, it complicates the divorce process.

This post highlights what needs to be considered.

How to Stay Safe While Visiting This or Other Sites for Domestic Abuse Help

There are links in this post to organizations working to end domestic violence and provide help. When you click on them, they will open in a separate window in your browser.

If someone comes near you while reading this information and you don’t want them to see it, quickly close both this page’s browser tab and any similar ones you have open. Several of the sites also allow you to close their window by clicking a special big “X,” the words “Quick Escape,” or pressing the Esc key. Be aware, however, computer use can be monitored and is impossible to completely clear.

Definition of Domestic Violence

This definition comes from the National Domestic Violence Hotline:

“Domestic violence (also called intimate partner violence (IPV), domestic abuse, or relationship abuse) is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.

“Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, living together, or who are dating. It affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels.”

As shown in statistics about domestic violence from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. Note that the violence can take emotional, psychological, and financial as well as physical form.

Domestic Violence and Divorce: A Potentially Dangerous Mix

Whether you work with an attorney or a mediator, the abuser is likely to hear things that may trigger an event. There is a significant debate whether mediation can be used if domestic violence is a factor. Of course, personal safety is the highest priority, and honesty without fear of consequences is essential. However, in my experience, mediation can be successful and may actually minimize angry retaliations that can occur with escalating attorney involvement.

If there are already court orders precluding contact or other restrictions, they can often be removed to allow for mediation appointments. In some cases, attorneys may be needed to provide clients the necessary insulation and separation from each other.

How Victims of Domestic Violence Can Afford Transitional Housing

First, read this comprehensive article on preparing for and moving to a safe place away from the abuser. It provides a detailed, practical guide for assessing your situation, developing your plan, financing your move, and securing housing.

At the end, the article lists ways to keep your information private on your phone. Emailing and texting are a great way to communicate with those who are helping you. If you think your abuser is going through your phone, you may be hesitant to reach out in fear of retaliation. Your line of communication to the outside world doesn’t have to be cut off.

How to Start the Divorce Process If Domestic Violence Is a Factor

Before you initiate a conversation with your abusive spouse about ending your marriage, it’s essential that you seek professional advice and a strategy for your safety. If you are in a potentially violent situation with your spouse, or if the violence has already started—whether it includes physical assault, verbal abuse, excessive financial control, or a combination—your safety is more important than papers and records.

An abuser will use violence, name calling, insults and other verbal abuse to make their partner feel hopeless, weak, and helpless. This kind of controlling behavior can make you believe that there is no way out of the relationship. Intimidation, threats, isolating the victim from family and friends, withholding money, using the children against you, and then minimizing the violence and blaming you for “making” them lash out are all methods of violence and domination.

You do not have to live with this.

If any of this is happening to you, take these steps to protect yourself and your children.

  • Get away from the abuser. Friends or family are most likely to help you, but if you can’t reach them or they are reluctant to get involved, call the domestic violence hotline in your area. See Resources below for local (Rochester / Monroe County NY), state, and federal help.
  • Take your children to a neutral place. Your parents or grandparents may be the right environment, or a friend who has children of about the same age as your own may provide a place where your children can be comfortable. A shelter may be able to keep your children’s location secret. Also check with your local services as some domestic violence shelters now take in pets as well (see Rochester Resources below).
  • Don’t destroy or throw out anything. The property in your home is marital property, and it will have to be divided equitably. If you deliberately destroy or hide something, your spouse may see that as an act of violence on your part.
  • Start working with a divorce mediator or attorney. Not only may you need a temporary restraining order or Order of Protection to keep yourself and your children safe, but you will want to move on to divorce as soon as possible. If you hope to salvage a cordial relationship with your spouse, look for a mediator with experience in dealing with domestic violence cases.
  • If more violence occurs, call the police. Your safety is the top priority. Be willing to move ahead with charges against your abusive spouse. Studies show that when the victim of abuse first tries to leave the abuser, this can be the most dangerous time in the relationship.
  • Once you are safe, contact the domestic violence relief agency in your county. The domestic violence hotlines listed below can help you find the protection you need, and law enforcement will have information about shelters and other safety measures.

If you are in danger because of the way your spouse treats you, there is no choice—you must separate from that person as quickly as possible. There are many people and organizations who are ready to help you.

Rochester NY / Monroe County Area Domestic Violence Resources

  • Emergency Help: Willow Domestic Violence Center. Hotline 585-222-7233 (24/7). All services are free and confidential. Willow also has a Pet Program that allows you to bring your pet(s) with you.
  • Emergency Help: **Call 911**
  • Town of Greece NY Police Department: Victim’s Assistance: Phone (may not be a 24/7 hotline): 585-720-0822
  • Transitional Housing: Sojourner Home, phone (may not be a 24/7 hotline): (585) 436-7100. YWCA, phone (may not be a 24/7 hotline): (585) 546-5820.
  • Elder Abuse: Lifespan.

New York State Domestic Violence Resources

New Yorkers seeking help can call 1-800-942-6906, text 844-997-2121, or chat on this confidential domestic abuse website. The text and online services are staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with NY Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) staff who are experts in the area of domestic violence. The chat is takes place in a private chat room.

Deaf or Hard of Hearing: Call 711.

All calls, texts, and chats are secure and confidential.

This NYS Domestic Violence Program Directory organizes domestic violence programs by county in New York State.

National Domestic Violence Resources

The National Domestic Violence Hotline, or their Spanish website, any time day or night:

  • Use their online chat function.
  • Call 800-799-7233.
  • Text LOVEIS to 22522.
  • Hearing- or speech-impaired individuals, call 800-787-3224 TTY.

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Photo credit: © Can Stock Photo / robwilson39

This blog and its materials have been prepared by BJ Mediation Services for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, are not, and should not be regarded as legal, financial, or tax advice. Blog subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.

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