Domestic violence covers all forms of violence which may occur in the home. This may include verbal, physical, financial, mental, and/or sexual abuse that a family member inflicts on another. Its traumatizing effects can take a toll on a family member’s overall health and risks having a long-lasting impact on the victim. It may also determine whether a person chooses to seek help – to speak to family or friends – to seek law enforcement or to hire a lawyer.
Violence in the home may be a family member abusing their partner, both parents abusing their child/ren, or a partner abusing both their partner and their child/ren. When a partner is being abused, they often feel helpless, isolated and unable to safely remove themselves from the relationship. If the couple has children, the children may develop protective instincts when they witness a family member being abused and will then try to protect them. The exposure to violence is incredibly damaging to a child’s understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like. The unfortunate reality as states by Justice Perry W. Schulmand, “Children’s early observations of violence among people they love plant the seeds of acceptance of the violence that all too often emerges years later in their own lives”. Even when a child is not the direct target of the violence, their exposure indirectly affects the way they view relationships.
Additionally, when a child is being abused, they often don’t know better and therefore it is uncommon that they will speak up because they don’t see it as abuse, rather than their norm, it may even be perceived by the child as the way their parent shows love. In general children or their parents may be more inclined to accept that type of behavior from a future partner. Often the child is silenced because they grow up idolizing their parents. If a parent threatens or manipulates their child, the child will listen to them, either out of fear or the belief that they are protecting their family. Despite recurring patterns of behavior in abused children or children exposed to abuse, their reaction often varies based on their age which can make it difficult to identify.
One of the most prominent differences between a couple with an abuser and a couple who has alternative reasons for wanting a separation or divorce, is that the victim of domestic violence is less likely to get a divorce out of fear. The last thing they want is something that will upset their partner and make them act out, which is why it takes a lot of courage to make the decision to leave. More often than not, the victim will create a safety plan prior to leaving so that when they file for divorce, they are out of immediate danger. The overall process can be very difficult both emotionally and often financially for the victim, however it is the first step to living a better life, free from violence.
Since the New Divorce Act took effect on March 1, 2021, the courts are required to consider domestic violence when deciding the parenting arrangements for the children. The Divorce Act acknowledges a significant range of behaviors and actions that are considered domestic violence. This allows the courts to make a large interpretation of the facts presented. The changes also provide judges with discretion and it also requires them to make a decision that respects any restraining orders that are in place between the parties.
When a person suffering from domestic violence reaches out for help, it is critical to listen and empathize with them; they are scared. If you or a loved one is in a situation similar to this, or if you would like to read more about how to protect someone suffering from domestic violence, we highly recommend reading the article at the link below: https://www.helpguide.org/articles/abuse/getting-out-of-an-abusive-relationship.htm. It provides extremely helpful information regarding how to protect yourself and what to do when a victim decides to leave.
If you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us, we are here to help.