Divorce Manual: DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

A. Definitions

Domestic violence includes beatings, threats, stalking, other forms of intimidation, harassment, neglect, and physical, emotional, and sexual abuse. Domestic violence may include any act by one family member that causes physical or emotional harm to another family member.

B. The Harmful Effects of Domestic Violence

In addition to the obvious immediate trauma caused by violence, domestic violence has long-term, far-reaching harmful effects on all members of the family. The lifetime harm to children is well-known.

Even when you decide to get help, being involved in domestic violence can make it harder for you to relate to your lawyer or others who might be able to help you. Domestic violence has long been considered a private matter, not to be discussed outside the family. Reluctance to talk about these problems is a direct result of the feelings of guilt and fear experienced by members of families marked by violence. It is ironic that even the victims of domestic violence, who have done nothing wrong, feel guilty about it.

In some states, domestic violence may be a ground of fault in the divorce proceeding. In others it affects only child custody and visitation.

The two most important points to remember about domestic violence are:

If you are committing it, stop!

If you are a victim of it, get help!

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