How can I leave an abusive spouse?

On Behalf of | Oct 21, 2020 | Domestic abuse

Domestic abuse, whether of a spouse, an intimate partner, grandparents or children is painful and scarring. In a marriage, it affects not only the abused partner but also the children. Domestic violence can be either or both an act of violence and a threat, and includes sexual, psychological and verbal abuse.

Domestic abuse affects 10 million Americans each year, with many cases never being reported. Domestic abuse is often a chronic behavior pattern that over time family members learn to tolerate as normal. Where there are children involved, the trauma can follow into adulthood and create a continued cycle of abuse in their adult relationships.

Is domestic abuse common in Kentucky?

Domestic abuse is often not reported and happens more often than might be expected. In Kentucky, 37.5% of women, and 31% of men, have experienced physical violence in some form in an intimate relationship, including intimate partner rape. On any given day, domestic abuse hotlines field 21,000 calls—that’s 15 calls per minute.

The presence of firearms can lead to much worse. In 2014, a full 72% of all murder-suicides involved a spouse or intimate partner, and 94% of the victims were women. Intimate partner violence was also responsible for 15% of all violent crime that year.

How can I get protection?

Under the federal Domestic Violence and Abuse Act, the courts may issue an emergency protective order (EPO) or a domestic violence order (DVO) that immediately:

  • Prevents all contact with the victim
  • Prohibits continued acts of domestic violence
  • Bars the abuser from entering or damaging the family home
  • Grants temporary custody of children to the victim
  • Prohibits the abuser from possessing a firearm

In addition, under the Kentucky Crime Victim’s Bill of Rights, victims have access to the services of qualified victim’s advocates. These advocates may accompany victims to all court proceedings, offering information about court proceeding and providing emotional support.

How difficult will custody and divorce be?

The first step is to leave an abusive situation and get help. Every case is different, and in situations of domestic abuse it is best to seek legal advice on how to work through the complexities of custody and divorce. Know that there are laws and support services that can help victims of domestic violence leave a bad relationship.