Understanding domestic violence and protective orders

Domestic violence is rarely easy to escape from. Those wishing to leave an abusive spouse may need an escape plan and a protective order.

Nobody ever enters a marriage intending to divorce. However, this is how many marriages end up, whether due to infidelity or another reason, such as abuse. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to leave when the other partner is abusive. The following points address some of the questions that people in New York may have when they are preparing to leave an abusive marriage.

How do I recognize domestic violence?

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that over 10 million people are victimized by intimate partners each year. This number includes men as well as women. Domestic abuse can take many forms in addition to physical violence. These include emotional, verbal, sexual and financial abuse. Abusers may not always physically harm their victims, although one who previously had never been violent may become so without warning. They also do not always make it easy to end a marriage. This is why it can be a good idea to create an escape plan before leaving.

What do I need to do before I can leave?

The National Domestic Violence Hotline has provided some tips on creating an escape plan before leaving an abusive partner. These include the following:

• Learn the websites, phone numbers and locations of domestic abuse shelters and police stations.

• Store emergency money, clothing and other belongings somewhere outside the home, preferably with a trusted person who can help.

• Keep a journal detailing instances of abuse and take pictures of any physical injuries.

At this point, it may help to seek a protective order.

How does a protective order work?

Protective orders are legal documents issued by a judge that prohibit the abuser from contacting or approaching his or her victim. The abuser will not be allowed to go to the victim's residence, school or place of employment. He or she will also not be allowed to call, text or try to contact the victim on social media. Violating the terms of a protective order is considered a criminal offense. After a period of time, both spouses will attend a hearing to tell their sides. The judge may decide to extend the protective order.

Leaving an abusive marriage may be an uncertain, stressful and fearful time. During the process, you will need help from numerous entities to keep you as safe as possible. These include law enforcement and abuse counselors in addition to an experienced New York family law attorney. An attorney may be able to direct you to the proper agency, as well as help you take the steps to obtain a protective order.

If any of the issues that are identified in this very brief discussion provoke or stimulate a further need to discuss your individual or particular facts, without delay you should reach out to me by phone or email and I will find time to respond to your time sensitive needs and inquiry.