When you’re in an abusive relationship, you may doubt yourself and your own feelings. That’s because abusers attempt to control others by instilling self-doubt, and using emotionally manipulative tactics to supplement their use of physical violence. But how can you identify abusive patterns of behavior, and learn how to find freedom from the cycle of abuse?
At Myers Family Law, our Granite Bay family law attorneys can offer the support you need to pursue claims of domestic violence through the legal system. We know how seriously these claims are treated in the court, and we can help you gather the evidence and documentation you need to protect yourself. In this post, we’ll discuss a few of the most common ways that abusers maintain control, and how you can protect yourself from abuse going forward.
What Are the Signs of Domestic Violence?
Depending on the type of domestic violence you’ve been experiencing, this could look slightly different for you. However, there are a few telltale signs that you are being abused by your partner. Regardless of whether their violence is emotional, physical, or sexual in nature, ultimately all domestic violence cases are united by an underlying fear of the other partner. Tragically, in many cases that fear may prevent victims from seeking the help they need and deserve.
Some of the most common signs of domestic violence include:
- Threatening violence, of any variety
- Hitting, slapping, or choking you regularly
- Hurting your pets or children; ignoring the upset feelings of others in the household
- Repeatedly putting you down and insulting you
- Isolating you from your friends and family members
- Directing anger or aggression towards you, especially when drinking or using substances
- Forcing you to have sex against your will, or using threats to coerce sexual acts
- Showing no regard for your personal space, from stalking to reading personal messages
- Acting in a possessive or jealous manner when you visit other friends
What Tactics Do Abusers Use to Prevent You from Leaving?
Once you’ve identified your relationship as abusive, one of the hardest parts is actually taking those next steps to leave the toxic situation. You may have children or a home with your abuser, and through the years you have most likely developed an emotional bond that is painful to break, even when you’ve been hurt so many times before. To add to the difficulty, you may be physically or emotionally traumatized, and dealing with depression or severe PTSD as a result.
Finally, there could be financial reasons preventing you from leaving. Because the majority of domestic violence victims are women, their male partners may rely on strict gender roles to prevent them from obtaining financial resources – and ultimately leaving them.
Abusers know all this, and may use the following 3 tactics in a cycle to keep you from moving forward:
- Building tension. As the first phase in the emotional abuser playbook, the abuser will try to make you “walk on eggshells,” and react negatively to everything. They will use the sense of impending tension to make you fear the repercussions of even small actions.
- Explosive anger. Finally, the looming feeling of tension erupts into action, and your abuser may enact physical violence or extreme verbal abuse.
- “Honeymoon” phase. After the explosion, your abuser will likely swing in the opposite direction, trying to make you feel safe and comfortable once again. You may receive gifts or sincere-sounding apologies, or promises to never hurt you again. Ultimately, this phase will lead back to Step 1, as tension builds and the cycle repeats itself.
Moving Forward from Abuse: Taking Legal Action
It can seem daunting, but legal action is most likely the next step in your journey to free yourself from the cycle of abuse. Although the seriousness of your situation may range, if any of the previous sections rang true, you may need to pursue legal action. One of the best ways to protect yourself is through a restraining order. In California, a temporary restraining order can last for about a month, whereas a permanent one can last up to 5 years in domestic violence cases.
You may also be able to pursue and Emergency Protective Order, or EPO, if you believe that you are in imminent danger of abuse. Under the California Family Code, section 6250, a law enforcement officer can ask a judge to issue an EPO at any time of day. The only requirement is that you demonstrate the EPO will prevent further violence from happening. This can buy time while you work with a family lawyer to secure a longer restraining order, or to report the abuse through the criminal justice system.
Regardless of your situation, rest assured that you have options and can find freedom from your abuser. Our Granite Bay family law attorneys have worked for decades in the realm of domestic violence, and we can help you protect yourself and your family. Contact Myers Family Law today for a low-cost, 30-minute consultation.