Leaving and divorcing an abusive partner is scary and difficult. It can also be deadly. Murder and murder/suicide scenarios are all too common after a divorce or separation. In fact, women are 70 times more likely to be killed by their ex during the two-week period following a break up than they are at any other time. And, unfortunately, children get caught up in the violence as well.
If you're thinking about leaving an abusive partner or if you have recently left an abuser, you have to take steps to protect yourself and your children. Fortunately, there are some practical and legal steps that you can take to remain safe.
Be sure to document each and every instance of verbal and physical abuse leading up to, during, and after your departure. Sometimes it's not enough to tell the courts that your ex is abusive. They want to see proof before giving you and your children protections under the law. If you have any documents, such as police records, letters and statements, or any other type of proof, such as video or audio recordings, be sure to gather these as well.
File Restraining Order
Alert your local police department about the threat and file a restraining order. A restraining order will make it illegal for your ex to contact you or to come near you or your children. While a restraining order is not a physical barrier, it allows you to contact police and get help even if your ex isn't attacking you. They will be in violation simply by being near you or contacting you.
Some courts have domestic violence resources that you can use to make your transition easier and safer. For example, in some states, the court will help you separate from your spouse by making them leave the family home. This is especially helpful if you don't have the financial or physical means to leave.
Hire an Attorney
Child custody and visitation can be tricky even when a violent parent is involved. If you feel that your children are not safe with their other parent, you have to take steps to deny visitation through the court system. And the sooner you get started, the better.
Leaving a violent partner can be scary. However, there are legal protections out there. If you're thinking about or have recently left an abusive partner, be sure to hire an attorney (such as one from Campbell, Dille, Barnett & Smith, P.L.L.C.) and research the resources available in your area.