Understanding domestic violence and how to escape

It’s not always easy to escape an abusive situation, but it’s possible with the right help. You may want to form an escape plan and seek a protective order.

The availability of no-fault divorces makes ending a marriage comparatively easy, even though a divorce dispute is almost always difficult. For residents in Arizona who are victims of domestic violence, divorce may be much more difficult. For this reason, those who are suffering from familial abuse may need help from law enforcement, abuse shelters and other advocates to escape a dangerous situation.

Almost 20 people each minute are physically harmed by a romantic partner in this country, states the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Violence against an intimate partner makes up 15 percent of all violent crimes. At some point in their lifetimes, one in three women and one in four men will be victims of domestic violence. Perhaps most upsetting is that one in 15 children will be exposed to domestic violence every year. This is why it is so important to break the cycle of violence by seeking a parenting plan that protects children from their abusers.

What is abuse?

Domestic abuse may take many forms in addition to physical violence. It can also include financial, sexual, emotional and verbal abuse. In most cases, the abuser uses manipulation and fear to exert complete control over his or her victim. Domestic abuse does not necessarily have to include physical attacks. In fact, emotional abuse alone may be just as damaging as physical abuse.

How can one take steps to escape an abusive marriage? One step is obtaining a protective order, states the National Domestic Violence Hotline. A protective order, also known as a restraining order, is a legal document that prohibits an abuser from contacting or approaching the victims for the duration the order is valid. However, a protective order is only as effective as the abuser's willingness to obey its terms, regardless of the threat of jail. It is important, therefore, to take additional steps to leave an abusive partner. These may include the following:

  • Making an escape plan with a trusted family member or friend
  • Storing emergency money, documents, clothing and other important items in a place the abuser does not know about
  • Documenting evidence of physical attacks and reporting them to authorities when possible
  • Learning the phone numbers and addresses of victim shelters and police stations

Planning and executing an escape may seem overwhelming and frightening. It is important to understand that you do not have to attempt this endeavor on your own. In addition to the agencies and other supportive people already listed, you will need to contact an Arizona family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases to protect your rights and your family.