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Some common and dangerous myths about kids and domestic violence

If you’re a parent in an abusive relationship, you may believe that by leaving your abuser, you’ll spare your children from further harm. While leaving an abusive relationship is certainly crucial to your safety and that of your children, it’s not necessarily the end of your problems. There are some common, and potentially dangerous, myths about domestic violence, its impact on children and even on how it affects custody decisions.

Many parents believe that any emotional damage to children from witnessing one parent abuse the other will heal once the abusive parent is no longer around. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that people who grew up in homes with domestic violence, whether they were the direct victims or not, are at greater risk for physical and mental health problems as adults and more likely to act out violently themselves. That’s why it’s essential to get your children the psychological help they need to process what they’ve witnessed, even if it’s no longer occurring.

Partners of an abuser generally believe their children are safer once the abuser is out of the home. However, in the aftermath of a separation, abusers often become more violent because they feel like they’ve lost control — taking out their anger on the spouse and/or children. It’s important to ask your attorney to seek a protective order if you believe you may need one to keep your family safe.

If a child doesn’t seem afraid of the abusive parent, particularly if the abuse didn’t involve the child, parents may think it’s safe to allow unsupervised visitation. However, children don’t always recognize hostile or even abusive behavior when they experience it. As noted before, psychological guidance is often key to getting to the truth of what a child is experiencing or feeling.

It’s often assumed the abusive parent won’t get custody of the kids. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Some domestic violence victims are so traumatized and lacking in self-esteem that they actually come off worse in court than their abusers, who may be able to put on a veneer of calm and rationality. It’s essential to work closely with your attorney to seek the outcomes that are best for your own physical and emotional safety and that of your children.

Source: Ionia Sentinel-Standard, “Let’s Talk About It: 5 myths about child custody and domestic violence,” accessed Oct. 27, 2016

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