Abuse After Separation
For some victims of domestic abuse, the act of separation or divorce promises resolution and relief from an abusive relationship. Unfortunately for others, distancing themselves from an abusive partner can result in the abuser losing power and control causing him or her to ramp up their methods of abuse. This comes in the form of financial abuse, stalking, harassment, and threats. Financial or paper abuse refers to an assailant using the legal system to cause further harm to a victim.
By trying to control the victim’s time and tapping out their financial resources, the abuser maintains power and control. Attorney fees and divorce filings can cost between $8000-$13,000 leaving some victims financially unable to keep up. Domesticshelters.org suggests maintaining a separate bank account, signing a prenuptial agreement to protect assets, and gathering as much information as possible to prepare for court. Using a lawyer trained in domestic violence after divorce is a wise option. Seeking out attorneys that do legal work pro bono is also advised if the victim can’t afford the legal costs.
In cases where children are involved, the abuser may use them as leverage to remain in control. Filing family law claims, making false allegations regarding child welfare, and mandated visitations present opportunities for further harassment and verbal abuse. Parental rights make it difficult for victims to cut ties with their abuser out of fear of losing their children.
Are there legal actions or changes occurring to shed light on this problem? Some states allow for victims to utilize the Family Medical Leave Act to address the abuse and violence in their lives. This helps the victim to maintain employment throughout the legal process of separating from an abuser. Navigating the judicial system can be difficult and costly, but most states offer advocates to assist victims in understanding their legal rights and responsibilities.
Here are some products PSA offers to help spread awareness and provide support for victims after separation.
Post-Separation Abuse of Women and their Children: Boundary-setting and Family Court Utilization among Victimized Mothers
After Abuse, a High-Priced Divorce Is the Next Trauma