Domestic violence affects families of all races and socio-economic groups. But studies show that women react differently depending on their demographic. For example, Black women have been shown to be less likely than White women to report domestic violence. Affluent women and educated women, are more likely to leave their abusers than women who are less affluent and women who are less educated.
Many movies, such as Enough with Jennifer Lopez and The Burning Bed with Farrah Fawcett have brought domestic violence to public awareness, because it is often a hush hush crime. People are embarrassed. They are also protective of their families and even their abusers. They don’t tell until things have escalated often to a dangerous status.
The fact is, if you are in a domestic violence situation, both your life and that of your children could be in danger and you should get out. There are domestic violence shelters all over New York City that you can go to. They offer counseling and shelter for you and your children. It is imperative that you get help right away.
If a spouse has hit you even once, chances are he can and will do it again. One slap is enough for you to get out and seek help. Many women in domestic violence situations want a divorce but they are afraid to get one, or seek one because they fear it will anger their spouse. This is a legitimate concern. You probably should not ask an abuser for a divorce while you are still living in the home. Get out first. Go to a shelter. Then seek a divorce on the basis of cruelty. The fact that you are in a shelter is key evidence to prove a case of domestic violence – especially if the domestic violence shelter has observed that you came in with bruises or injuries. Get hospital records too, if possible. And police records.
One of the first things you are going to need to get is an order of protection. You can get that on your own by going to the family court in the county where you live. They will give you a temporary order of protection. But that may only last a month or so. Then you have to have a hearing to see whether you can prove your case that the order of protection should be extended and for how long.
One caveat: There are some women who try to use the system to untruthfully report domestic violence. Please don’t do this. Don’t accuse your spouse of domestic violence if it is not true, just to get back at him. It dilutes the effectiveness and purpose of the system. And the court can see through you right away. If you are angry at a spouse who has not abused you, find another way to get your pound of flesh. Don’t say he hit you when it is not true. That’s not right.
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