Tuesday, October 1, 2013

My Husband Just Hit Me

Years ago, a friend of mine who was  going through the divorce process shared a warning from her attorney "at least once during the divorce process the police will be called to your house to settle a dispute." We both laughed at the idea, but eventually, for her, sadly it turned out to be true. Just a few weeks ago another friend called to let me know her husband had spent the night in jail after physically assaulting her.  Both of these women live in my town and present lives that would indicate harmony.  But as they both learned, regardless of the size of your bank account and home, type of car you drive, your academic achievement, zip code or job title - domestic violence can creep into every socioeconomic status level in society today.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I find it sad that we have an entire month dedicated to the violence suffered by some within the confines of their own home. For me this months means providing awareness for those who have been or may be harmed.  Do not try to protect your abuser, your job is to protect you and your children.

So many times I have heard from women:

"He hit me but will lose his job if I call the police."  
"He won't be allowed to coach my daughter's field hockey team"
"He doesn't hit me that often and I know he doesn't mean it."

When you are a victim of domestic violence at the hands of your spouse, it is critical to take action immediately.  Do not wait to see if things calm down and do not assume it is a one time event.  His trigger, whether it be booze, stress, anxiety, etc, will eventually rear its ugly head again and you will probably find yourself the whipping post once more.

If there are children involved, it is your responsibility as a parent to protect them, end of story.  Provide the necessary safety so your sons and daughters do not live in fear that the violence will turn in their directions.  In addition to the fear, do everything in your power to make sure they do not become victims themselves.  Take a stand and put protection in place so that they realize how wrong it is to physically harm those you love.  You do not want your kids to enter adulthood thinking it is ok to harm or be harmed by others.  

So what do you do?
1)  When the abuse first occurs immediately get you and your children to safety.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.  Jump in the car, run across the street to a neighbors...just get away.

2)  Immediately call the police and get the abuser out of your home.

3)  Let the police know you want to immediately file the paperwork for a temporary restraining order.  Some police officers will tell you to file for a restraining order during business hours at your county courthouse.  Don't fall for it, start the process immediately.  You can get a temporary restraining order any time of day or night through a police department.  Do not back down.

4)  Call a lawyer to walk you through the steps of going to court to formalize the restraining order.

Nothing is more important than the safety of you and your children.  Do not feel embarrassed because your spouse or someone you love chooses to hurt you.  Do not think for one minute it is your responsibility to protect your abuser from shame of their actions.  Yes, the protection you need to put in place may hurt his/her career, position within the community, and limit access to your children.  These issues are not your problem to solve.

Once a victim there will always be a bit of fear in you and you will need support.  You may need a new place to live or hide, so please reach out to friends and family to house you and your kids if necessary.  As always, when going through any stressful situation I highly recommend a great therapist to help process your emotions and even plan the next steps for your life so you can move forward.

You and your children deserve a peaceful life filled with people who are worthy of your awesomeness. Demand nothing but the best from those around you.

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