Updated: Nov 8, 2022
Post-Separation abuse is real. It is incorrect to assume that problems with domestic violence disappear once separation occurs. Abuse generally intensifies in the face of separation, making separation a hazardous time for victims. Nearly half (49%) of all spousal homicides occur within two months after separation, and 32% occur two to twelve months after separation. Victims will likely contact the judicial system during this time and maybe hire a lawyer. We know that post-separation abuse occurs not just at the time of separation but can last for years. Co-parenting with an abuser provides ample opportunities to continue domestic violence in all its forms, physical and beyond.
Domestic violence is rarely "incident" based. It is power and control based. Viewing domestic violence as incidents or episodes measured by overt behaviour misses the devastating effect of ongoing patterns of control. Lack of physical violence does not mean the abuser is any less dangerous to the victim and children, nor does it mean the abuse any less traps the victim.
The view that abuse is "historic" negates the impact on the victim or children. The effects of domestic violence are anything but historical. Fear of family law processes that require the victim to "negotiate" with their abuser lives in the now. Fear of backlash for exposing the abuser's behaviour in affidavits lives in the now. Fear that the abuser may follow through with their threats lives in the now. Trauma reactions and flashbacks are not historical. They live in the now.
Ongoing trauma can significantly impact a parent's ability to retain legal information and concepts, provide effective testimony, negotiate effectively, and make critical decisions that will affect them and their children for years.
"Historical" abuse matters because it is rarely historical, and the cumulative and interlinked effects of abuse often live in the now.
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