For married domestic violence victims, the first step to freedom is usually a restraining order or an order of protection. And, many DV victims believe the last step is divorce. Indeed, the “just leave” mentality has become so pervasive that even DV victims do not realize that divorce is seldom the end.
Abuse continues after you leave
According to researchers, over 90% of DV victims report ongoing abuse after they leave the abusive relationships. This ongoing abuse can last days, weeks, months, years and even, decades. Of course, the abuse morphs, but it usually, still remains.
If you leave without some sort of protective order in place, you may find that you receive notice of one against you soon after leaving. However, even if you did make a plan with your lawyer, your soon-to-be ex-spouse will still likely make some kind of abuse allegations to authorities. This could be that the abuse between you two was mutual, or that you abused your children. This is an attempt to gain control of the narrative to use against you later with the court system.
These lies will extend much further than the legal system as they will try to change the narrative around your relationship to make it seem like you were the bad guy. You will find rumors swirling throughout your social, family and work life. If you did not change your social media accounts, they often will take those over as well. They will begin posting offensive and reputation-destroying items in your name. Sometimes, they will even begin harassing your boss and coworkers to get you fired.
Harassing your co-workers may be just one part of ongoing financial abuse. Once they get an inclining that you are thinking about leaving, you may find that they take away any economic freedom you may currently possess. They will liquidate accounts, hide valuables, cancel your credit cards, etc. Then, once you leave, they may go further and begin taking out debt in your name solely or jointly. The goal is to make you destitute to force you back to them, or to at least make you suffer.
The key takeaway is to prepare for this ongoing abuse. Plan for it with your Oakland, California, attorney, financial advisor and CPA. Make sure you have resources and a game plan together, but the most important preparation is mental prep for the domestic abuse to continue.