Dealing with domestic violence is never easy and for many victims, believe it or not, the hardest part of their journey out of an abusive situation is dealing with the legal issues that arise when charges are brought against their abuser. If you have brought charges against an abuser and are facing a legal battle, here are some tips that you can use to help you get through the process.
1. Find A Personal Advocate
Find someone that you can trust and on whom you can lean. Having a friend and advocate by your side will make your journey a lot easier and it will reduce your chances of second guessing yourself and going back to your abuser. The Deseret News recently reported that women who have some type of advocate or mentor are more likely to leave an abusive situation and not return to it. Having someone by your side will help you stay strong for yourself and for any children you might be taking with you.
2. Hire a Lawyer
Even if you currently do not think you want to bring charges against your abuser, having a lawyer on your side is important. Your lawyer can help you protect your finances, draw up restraining orders and represent you if you do wind up having to go to court. Moreover, hiring a lawyer helps you make sure that you are doing everything legally and by the book. You cannot control your abuser or force him/her to live by the law, but you can control your own.
Note: in some states, once charges are filed against an abuser, the entire case gets turned over to the state. According to Boston Lawyers EKG Law; in the state of Massecusets, “the district attorney’s office has control of a case once a person has been arrested and brought before a court for arraignment.” This means that once you file, you don’t get to decide whether or not the case gets dropped.
In some instances this is good because it means you can’t chicken out and will be forced to follow through. At the same time, it can be harrowing because not being able to change your mind can make you feel even more powerless than you did before.
3. Stay Away
One of the hardest things for victims of domestic violence to do is stay away from their abusers. Often this is because the abuser insists on pursuing them. Sometimes, though, it is the victim’s decision to make contact. If you are the victim of domestic abuse, try to resist this urge. You are more likely to enter back into an abusive situation if you have contact with your abuser. You are also more likely to accidentally throw a monkey wrench into the works of any legal action being brought against him/her.
If you are afraid for your safety, you can ask that an order of “No Contact” be issued against your abuser to keep that person from even texting you.
For many victims, it is the “No Contact” rule that helps them really start to heal. This is because; in addition to being a legal precedent, “no contact” is also a psychological tool that many therapists encourage their patients to use to help them break abusive and damaging cycles.
Remember: it takes time to get a domestic violence case through court. During that time, lean on your advocates and follow your attorney’s directions and instructions. Stay away from your abuser and try to stay strong. Try to remember that you’re doing what is best for you (and your kids). Ending a cycle of abuse is scary but you’ll be so glad that you did it. Trust us on that.