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Divorce doesn’t always end domestic violence

We’ve just come to the end of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It doesn’t get as much attention in October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, it’s a problem that needs to be spotlighted and understood because it affects so many people — mostly women. In his proclamation declaring October National Domestic Violence Awareness month, President Obama wrote, in part, “When anyone is targeted by someone they place their trust in, we have a responsibility to speak up.”

We generally associate domestic violence with physical abuse. That is certainly a serious problem, and one that leads to too many deaths every year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one out of every five women has been severely abused by an intimate partner, and every nine seconds, a woman is beaten or assaulted. However, domestic abuse can include emotional and financial abuse.

Domestic abuse, in whatever form it takes, can escalate (or even begin) when a woman files for divorce. Men who feel that they’ve lost control over their wives can retaliate physically, but also financially — particularly if the woman has relied on her husband to be the breadwinner of the family. That’s why it’s essential to work with your attorney to take action to help ensure your physical safety as well as your financial security as the divorce proceeds.

Too many people believe in long-debunked stereotypes that domestic violence is something that happens to “other” people. Therefore, they may be hesitant to admit, even to their lawyer, that it’s happening to them. However, it impacts people of all races, ages, income levels and social classes.

It’s essential to create a safety plan for yourself and your children if you have been abused or are concerned about abuse when you leave your spouse. Your attorney can help by working to secure an order of protection. If you’re concerned that your spouse will drain your bank accounts and/or max out your credit cards, your lawyer can help you work to prevent this.

Leaving an abusive marriage is always wise. However, you may still need to take actions to protect your physical, emotional and financial well-being.

Source: Forbes, “Domestic Violence And Divorce,” Jeff Landers, Oct. 25, 2016

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