Often, when one thinks of victims associated with domestic violence, an image of a “battered woman” or an “abusive husband” first comes to mind. However, it is important that people become more educated on what domestic violence really is—on its broad-sweeping effects and on the many forms that domestic violence can take.
One of the greater misconceptions associated with domestic violence is that it is limited to physical acts of violence only. This is not the case. The law holds that even those who are not actually being abused physically can be victims of domestic violence.
Domestic violence is a systematic pattern of coercive, controlling behavior. While true, this type of coercive behavior can include physical abuse, it can also include emotional, psychological, sexual and/or financial abuse (e.g. using money as a tool to exercise control). Those involved in advancing family law proceedings must be mindful of keeping their emotions in check—failure to think before acting can create grave, long-term consequences in the way of restraining orders for example, which can last up to four years with the potential for renewal. For more on the definition of domestic violence, visit the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website at http://ccadv.org/find-help/frequently-asked-questions/.
Another common misconception surrounding domestic violence is its association with having female victims only. In reality, domestic violence affects individuals in every community—gender, age, economic status, sexual orientation, race, religion, and nationality aside. The disturbing physical, emotional, and mental consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and last a lifetime.
Detecting the early or even more developed stages of domestic violence is not always easy. Domestic violence often intensifies over time. Initially abusers may seem wonderful, but then progressively become more hostile and controlling as the relationship ensues. For example, what may start out as something that appears to be harmless (e.g., wanting the victim to spend all of their time only with them) can then escalate into acute abusive control (e.g., threatening to kill or harm the victim or their loved ones if the victim speaks to certain individuals).
While only the abuser can truly put an end to the violent behavior, a victim of domestic violence can try and take measures to best address their situation, whether they’re thinking of staying or leaving. For example, survivors may consider utilizing a support group or placing anonymous calls to their local domestic violence program to seek help. Victims of domestic violence may also consider obtaining a protection order or staying in a shelter.
In any case, it is important a victim remembers the abuse is not their fault and that support is available for themselves and their loved ones. If you are in danger of domestic violence, please call 911 or a local or national hotline.
Get in touch with Feldmann Nagel for any family law-related matters you may be experiencing.