When a marriage fails, it can be devastating for everyone involved. The aftermath of a divorce can be difficult to adjust to, especially when you’re recovering from a tumultuous relationship.
Statistics by National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reveal that an average of 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. This type of abuse often leads to divorce. However, it is crucial to note that getting a divorce doesn’t mean the abuse will automatically end. This is especially true when kids are involved, as ongoing contact is required for the sake of co-parenting and the physical exchange of the kids.
How, then, can you minimize the risk of ongoing domestic violence after a divorce? The trick is to understand the legal resources that are available to you and make the best use of them. In this article, you’re going to find a few ways that you can protect yourself from domestic violence after divorce.
How to Protect Yourself From Domestic Violence After Divorce
Create a Safety Plan
A study by the University of Arizona found that couples that had a history of domestic violence before divorce were more likely to have more violence occur in the first three to twelve months after separation. Taking these findings into consideration, you should seriously think about devising a safety plan which outlines ways you can protect yourself from domestic violence after divorce.
When putting together your plan, be sure that it consists of ways to get out of the house safely in case of an emergency. Another idea is putting together code words you can share with family and friends in a situation where you’re at risk. If you have children, incorporate them into your safety plan too by identifying a safe room for them or teaching them how to call 911.
If you’re still experiencing abuse despite taking necessary precautions, think about hiring a security team. Not only can they help protect you, but they’d also be able to provide evidence to prove your case in court. Having them present during drop-offs and visits for the kids may be a good idea if you fear your children’s safety is at risk. Having said that, a safety plan is something worth taking seriously as domestic violence could end in death. In 2012, a Global Study on Homicide found that an estimated half of the victims that were victims of homicide were killed by intimate partners or family members.
Domestic violence isn’t only limited to physical assault. It comes in different forms, and one of them happens to be stalking. Examples of stalking to be aware of include your abuser calling you too often, spying on you, lurking around on your social media accounts, or hacking your emails.
If your ex-partner is harassing you over the phone, a practical solution would be to block them, change your number, or even destroy your cell phone in an extreme case. It’s important that you protect your privacy as stalking can make you feel unsafe and trigger feelings of anxiety.
If you have to keep in contact because of your kids, see if you can communicate using a co-parenting app instead of your personal line. A good co-parenting app to try is WeParent, which helps you manage events, appointments, documents, custody schedules, and expenses. There is also OurFamilyWizard which makes it possible to add mediators, extended family and any other third-party needed to make communication as harmonious as possible.
Leave Town Temporarily
It is possible that the tension between yourself and your ex could get to a boiling point. If this occurs, leaving town while your abuser cools off may be a viable and safe option. This is more applicable to those without children, as if you do have dependents, you could be breaking custody laws by traveling.
If you do decide to leave town temporarily, take a look at the pros and cons of traveling child-free. You need somewhere that will help you relax and unwind after going through such traumatic experiences, and these communities could be perfect. During the time that you’re away, you may also be able to have legal action taken against your ex. For instance, you could protect your personal safety by filing for a temporary restraining order at your local family court or municipal court until you can take more permanent legal action. By taking such steps, hopefully, by the time you get back, you’ll feel safer.
If you can’t afford to go anywhere far, you could always go and spend some time with a close friend or family member. This gives you a chance to change your environment and spend time with someone you feel comfortable around. Whatever the case, some time away could go a long way for your mental health and well being.
Life often takes a turn of unfortunate events and many are beyond our control. However, you should always remember that there are things that you can control. In the case of domestic abuse, your safety is one of them. As difficult as it may seem for you to reach out for help, know that there are people who are ready to give you the support you need to ensure a safe landing.