There’s no question about it – divorce can be an extremely emotional time. After all, most couples don’t reach the point where they are ready to end their marriage without some significant amount of animosity and emotional difficulty in their marriage. That’s true of almost every couple going through a divorce. For some couples, however, the situation may be even worse than emotional discomfort and hurt feelings. In some cases, there is true danger present – a situation where one spouse feels genuinely afraid that he or she may be harmed by the other spouse, or that the other spouse may attempt to harm their children.
While this is unfortunate, it is a reality that is all too true for many couples across the country every day. Abuse of all kinds – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual – is far more common than many people realize. Often, victims are silent, either out of fear, or shame, or a combination of both. First and foremost, it is important to know that if you find yourself in this situation, you should never feel shame. What’s happening is not your fault. No one deserves abuse, and no one deserves to live in fear. You deserve a better and brighter future, for yourself, and for your children. The question is – how can you find it? What steps can you take to protect yourself if your spouse, or ex-spouse, threatens you with harm?
Fortunately, there are legal protections available to you – and there are attorneys, friends, and family members out there who will want to help you obtain those protections, and find a way to feel safe and optimistic about the future again. Before taking any legal steps, however, the first and most important thing to do is to seek safety – for yourself, and for those you love. If you are being threatened or physically harmed, find a safe place – whether it be with family or friends, at a hotel, or a shelter. Call the police and remain in a safe location if you can.
Once you are safe and the authorities are notified, your next step should be to let your attorney know what you’re going through. If you don’t have an attorney, you should begin your search for one immediately. It might be particularly helpful to seek out an attorney who has prior experience handling cases involving domestic violence so that he or she can best guide you toward your next chapter as smoothly and safely as possible.
A good attorney will be able to advise you as to what legal measures you might be able to take to protect yourself. Depending upon your circumstances, you may be able to obtain temporary protective and restraining orders from the court. If your spouse is a danger to your children, you may be able to obtain an emergency custody order, ensuring that the children stay safe and in your custody, away from harm. Ultimately, even if you decide not to take these particular steps, an attorney will help you gather and preserve helpful and necessary evidence that you may want to use in a court case on issues that matter – especially child custody issues. Talking this through with knowledgeable and experienced counsel as soon as possible is a valuable and important step that you won’t want to overlook.
Regardless of what legal remedies you might pursue, always seek safety and help for yourself and those you love when it is needed. If you find yourself in a place where you are struggling with depression and fear you may harm yourself or others, or if you are worried that someone else may harm you or those you love, please know that you are not alone. There are resources available all-day, year-round, and there are people ready and waiting to help.
Websites that may provide helpful resources and information include:
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline
- Battered Women’s Justice Project
- Child Welfare League of America
- National Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Important phone numbers that you may need include:
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
- The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
If you find yourself in a place where you or your children are experiencing harm, or feel threatened with harm, don’t hesitate to utilize these resources and any others that may be helpful to you. There is no time like now to take the steps you need to take to protect and preserve your safety.
After you are safe, as you begin to think about moving forward with the divorce process, remember that finding an attorney who knows and understands the law and who can help you to preserve and protect your rights on important issues will be essential. At The Law Office of Dustin McCrary, we are here for you, and we’re ready to help. Call us at any time.