Many people have a misconception as to what domestic violence is. Domestic violence is more than physical violence. It is any use of force or fear to control another person. Domestic violence includes:
- Throwing things
- Breaking things
- Taking one's cellphone
- Tracking one's movements
- Preventing someone from making a phone call
- Preventing someone from leaving a room
- Preventing someone from leaving the house
- Going through one's purse or wallet
- Going through one's cellphone
- Reading someone's e-mails
- Hacking into someone's e-mail account
- Punching walls
- Keeping someone up at night
- Following someone
- Excessive telephone calls
- Excessive text messages or e-mails
- Refusing to leave someone alone
- Following someone from room to room
- Following someone in his or her vehicle
- Hiding one's personal property
- Using the children to punish the other parent
Tiffany was afraid of Ben, but she was not sure why. He yelled a lot. He threw things and punched the walls when he was mad, but Ben would never hurt her. It was just a way to blow off steam. Ben wouldn't let Tiffany talk on the phone, but that was only because Ben wanted Tiffany to spend time with him. When Ben and Tiffany got into an argument, it always seemed to get out of control. Tiffany would try to leave the room when Ben got that way, but he would follow her from room to room. If Tiffany tried to hide in the bathroom, Ben would break through the locked door.
After Tiffany received a visit from Child Protective Services about Ben's abuse, Tiffany realized she could not continue to raise her daughter in this environment. By the time Tiffany came to this conclusion, she had lost all of her friends and was tired of the constant conflict.
The Cycle of Abuse
•Tension Stage: Before the abuse begins, the abuser is usually critical, bullying, moody and demanding. The victim is made to feel that everything is his or her fault and tries to please the abuser. The victim has to "walk on eggshells" in order to avoid making the abuser angry. The victim believes that if he or she does things better, it will please the abuser.
•Abuse Stage: The tension escalates to emotional or physical abuse. It is usually one extremely stressful or violent event. Many times, the victim provokes the situation to get it over with.
•Honeymoon Stage: The abuser feels sorry, and is especially nice and attentive to the victim. The abuser will usually promise to never do it again. The victim believes that, this time, the abuser will change. The abuser makes the victim feel special and important. The two are especially affectionate and the relationship feels like it is "back on track." This only lasts for a day or two before tension begins to build again.
Breaking up with your significant other is difficult enough, but when domestic violence is involved, it is even more complicated. If you are the victim, you are worried that you will never be safe. Maybe your partner told you that you were crazy. Maybe you know that you are in a bad situation, but you do not know how to get out of it. If you have been accused of domestic violence, maybe the situation was blown out of proportion. Perhaps your significant other is trying to get the upper hand in a custody case. Especially when children are involved, a domestic violence case has serious consequences. It is doubly important to have a skilled litigator and negotiator on your side. Should you try to negotiate a settlement and avoid going to trial? Is trial the best route to take? These are questions you should explore with someone who knows the law.