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Steps to take when leaving an abusive spouse

Domestic violence in a marriage affects not only the abused partner but also the children and extended family. Domestic violence is too often a chronic pattern of behavior from the abuser that family members learn to tolerate.

Experts estimate that domestic violence affects 10 million Americans each year, and that many more cases go unreported. The abuse can range from physical, psychological, sexual or emotional trauma, to economic hardship. When children witness or are victims of domestic violence, the cycle of abuse can cause lasting emotional scars and carry on into their adult relationships.

Domestic abuse in Kentucky

Domestic or intimate partner violence is not only a common problem nationally, but also in Kentucky. A third of women, and a quarter of men, in the state have been victims of some kind of physical violence from a domestic partner. When firearms are involved, the risk of violence skyrockets. Intimate partner violence is responsible for 15% of all violent crime, and 94% of the victims are women.

When a domestic abuse victim decides to leave a relationship, it is important to know what resources she has to protect both her and her family. If law enforcement has been called in the past, this will help to establish proof of a pattern of domestic violence in the home. Even where there may not be a record of law enforcement stepping in, if the abused spouse has left the home on one or more occasions to stay with supportive loved ones, this establishes a record of domestic abuse.

Protecting victims of domestic violence

The Domestic Violence and Abuse Act allows courts to take immediate action to protect victims through a restraining order. This will prevent the domestic abuser from contacting the victim or disposing of or damaging the victim’s property. The order grants temporary custody of the children to the victim and prohibits the abuser from possessing a firearm.

Oftentimes victims leaving an abusive relationship do not realize that family courts often offer financial assistance to victims of domestic violence. In some cases a court order can order one spouse to pay the other spouse’s attorney fees. Deciding to leave when there is domestic violence can be scary, but it is important to know that there are resources to help victims to save themselves and their children.