Domestic violence incidences rising in California

Every day in the U.S., hundreds of people become victims of domestic violence. According to Safe Horizon, one out of every four women will experience domestic abuse at some point. This number is higher in California, showing how domestic abuse is a problem in our state. About 40 percent of all women in California will become a victim of domestic violence during her lifetime, says the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence. In 2011, there were 147 domestic abuse fatalities in the state, a number that increased 30 percent since 2008.

Victims of abuse may desperately wish to get out of their relationships, especially if there are children involved. However, it can be extremely difficult to escape from an abusive marriage. Even recognizing the signs of abuse can be hard for many victims. Those who are planning to leave an abusive relationship will need support and help from trusted family members, friends and professionals.

Recognizing the early warning signs of abuse

Abusers usually don't start out a relationship being physically violent. They often start by gradually increasing their intimidation and threats until the victim feels entirely controlled. An abuser will often belittle and shame their victims, restrict their car or cell phone use, destroy their belongings and threaten to harm the kids. According to HelpGuide, emotional and verbal abuse can be even more confusing than physical violence.

It's important to realize that abuse is happening, and to take the steps to get out before it's too late. Victims should never justify the abuser's behavior or accept it as normal.

How abuse affects children

Unsurprisingly, children are affected for the rest of their lives by the way they grew up. Girls who grew up in abusive households risk becoming abuse victims as adults, while boys will may grow up to abuse their own spouses and children. This is why it's so crucial to get out before long-lasting damage can occur. In many cases, a parent will need legal help getting custody of the kids to protect them from the abusive parent.

Victims will need to prepare for getting out of an abusive marriage by:

  • Getting together documents, clothing, belongings and emergency cash and storing them in a safe place, such as with relatives or friends.
  • Creating an escape plan to safely get away from the abusive spouse.
  • Memorizing crisis hotline numbers, emergency shelters and their websites.
  • Documenting each instance of abuse, including taking pictures of injuries.

When possible, a protective order against the abusive spouse should be obtained, which can provide additional legal protection. There are many community resources, such as domestic violence shelters or support groups that can help with the first steps toward getting free.

Contacting an attorney

To protect your interests and your children, it's important to contact an experienced divorce attorney right away if you're attempting to escape an abusive situation. An attorney will be your best advocate and will also be able to point you toward other resources that can help you start a new life.