Legalese from Attorney Daniele Johnson…Can we talk about Domestic Violence?
Domestic Violence crosses all boundaries of age, race, ethnicity, religion, economic background, physical ability, and sexual orientation. Of course, the definition of Domestic Violence encompasses physical violence inflicted upon one domestic partner by the other.
It is easily recognized by the obvious physical injuries resulting from these assaults, such as bumps, bruises, broken bones, or, in extreme cases, death. However, in my 22 years of family law experiences, only a handful of my family law cases actually involved physical attacks. Instead, the perpetrator is engaged in the more subtle acts of violence.
There are at least 3 other types of domestic violence, for example:
Financial Violence: There is some truth to the sayings “money is the root of all evil”, and “money is power”. Financial violence typically occurs when one partner controls all the money and influences the other partner to comply with his or her demands under threat of withholding funds needed for basic necessities, including, but not limited to, food, clothing, and housing. They may even threaten to withhold financial support for the children if their demands are not met.
Sexual Abuse: This occurs when one partner, through actions or words, influences the other to engage in sexual relations against his or her will. In extreme cases, this could mean an actual physical assault. Yes. A spouse can be charged and convicted of raping his or her own spouse. Other methods of undue influence include, threatening to commit suicide; threatening to tell loved-ones or family members facts about you that you find embarrassing; or simply wearing you down with repeated demands for sex until you acquiesce.
Mental and Emotional Abuse: Being told that you are not good enough; not pretty enough; don’t make enough money; or given the general impression that “you can’t do anything right” is abuse. Having to walk on eggshells when you are around your significant other because you don’t know if the slightest infraction will result in an explosive outburst of verbal or physical attack is abuse. Having to endure the “silent treatment” for days, weeks, or even months is abuse. Constantly being called outside of your name is abuse. Through my clients, I have learned that this form of abuse is far more damaging than physical violence. It is much harder and takes more time to heal from emotional scares than it takes a broken arm to mend.
Often times, victims of domestic violence remain in abusive relationships because they feel, isolated, frightened, and trapped. Many times, however, they remain in these relationships because they don’t realize that they are in a cycle of abuse. If you feel that you are or maybe in this cycle, please know that you deserve better. Your abuser is not going to change. Your abuser will not stop. Most importantly, this is not your fault, you are not alone, and, with an exit plan in place, you can safely leave.
Daniele Johnson is a Family Law Attorney and resides in West Cobb with her family. Daniele is also a Candidate for Cobb County Superior Court.