Domestic Violence: Questions About Leaving
Victims of domestic violence eventually develop their own tactics to survive. They develop ways to cope and live with the abuse. For them to manage the maltreatment, most victims will deny the occurrence of violence. Some will water it down so it will be easier for them to accept. To deaden the pain, some victims resort to drugs and alcohol. Some take full responsibility for their partner’s abusive behavior. This response is usually egged on by the abuser since once of his manipulative tactics is to blame the victim for provoking him.
There are many other factors on why victims stay in an abusive relationship. It may be the result of an upbringing with rigid religious and cultural constraints. Whatever the reason, it will never validate the existence of an abusive environment. It seems irrational to choose to live with violence but that choice is usually grounded on fear of what happens when and after they leave.
Can I take my children with me when I leave?
- Yes, you can absolutely take your children with you only if you can do it safely. It may be more difficult later for you to protect them when you have already distanced yourself from the abuser.
- Get legal custody of them within a few days. This is of the utmost importance. Many of the groups listed in this book may help you find assistance.
- If you do not have your children with you, it may be difficult filing for temporary custody of your children. The parent who has physical possession of the children may and usually have an advantage of getting temporary custody. As mentioned previously in this handbook, include your children in your safety plan to avoid unnecessary loopholes.
- Your partner may try to kidnap, threaten or harm the children in order to get you to return. It is important to warn your children’s school of who are allowed to pick them up. Inform your neighbors as well that you have already left the abuser and no longer share accommodations with him.
- If you are in immediate danger and cannot take your children, contact the police immediately to arrange for temporary protective custody. (This does not mean you will lose custody. Permanent custody will be decided later by a judge).
Where do I go?
- Stay with a friend or relatives. Now, the abuser will most likely look for you at your family’s home. It is essential for your survival to go to a relative that wholly supports your decision to leave.
- If you are a woman, do not stay with a man unless he is a relative. Living with a man you are not married to could hurt your chances of getting custody of your children and spousal support. The abuser’s legal adviser can use this as an argument at court. It could also cause conflict with your abuser. Living with a man will further infuriate the abuser and will cause severe retaliation.
- Go to a battered women’s shelter with your children. The staff there can help you get legal and financial help as well as provide counseling and emotional support for you and your children.
- Call 911 because it is a good start. The police now have established protocols for domestic abuse calls and will fairly enforce the law against the said violence. Domestic violence is now considered as a serious threat and is recognized by the state of law.
Your life and your safety are most important. Trying to bring your children with you is important. Everything else is secondary.