Many women are afraid to talk about domestic violence. Abusive partners gain their power by making their victims feel ashamed or at-fault for what is happening. Abuse victims often stay silent for fear of what will happen if they speak up.
The sad truth is that domestic violence is much more common than many of us realize. According to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 out of every 3 women in the United States has experienced violence at the hands of an intimate partner.
If you're stuck in an abusive marriage, know that you are not alone. There are people and organizations who are here to help you.
If you're leaving your abuser, protect yourself
Divorcing your abuser is a huge step forward, but it can be dangerous. Abusers are likely to lash out when they think their spouse is leaving them.
If at all possible, put a plan in place before you leave. If you need help or don't have somewhere safe to stay, the Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence can help connect you with resources in your area.
It is very common for abusers to monitor their victims' internet activity, and this can give them early signals into your plan to leave. Do your research on a computer your abuser doesn't have access to - for example at the library, at your office, or at a trusted friend's house.
How domestic violence impacts divorce
If you have ever been abused or assaulted by your spouse - even just once - it's important to share this information with your divorce lawyer as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can help you secure a civil protection order (also known as a restraining order) to help protect you from further violence.
If you have kids, your lawyer can also help you ensure that they are kept safe, and that any child custody or visitation arrangement takes your spouse's violent history into account.
Additionally, knowing that your spouse has a propensity for lashing out will help your lawyer plan a strategy that can help maximize your chances for success while minimizing the stress you will have to endure.