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Domestic Violence Consequences: Part 2

Domestic Violence Consequences: Part 2
Domestic Violence Consequences: Part 2

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Battered womanIn part 1, I described a victim of domestic violence I met while I was in graduate school and how her story intrigued me. I outlined the effects of domestic violence.

You are an attorney who is representing a woman in a personal injury suit. When she comes to her appointment, she has a black eye and a fractured jaw. She tells you, not meeting your eyes, that she walked into a door. As she takes off her coat, you see fading bruises on her arms. You sense she is frightened and ashamed. You wonder, “Why did she stay in this situation?” Here are some reasons.

  • She has no financial resources of her own. She has almost no money, no skills with which to teach her living and no opportunity in the marriage to acquire them.
  • She is protecting her children. She has no means of supporting them if she lives with them, but she is afraid to go without them lest her husband maltreat them or demand custody.
  • She is isolated. Her husband has criticized her friends, family, and coworkers and tells her she does not need anyone else in her life except him. He controls the money, car keys, and email.
  • Contacting the police may make her situation worse than better. The threat of more violence from her spouse is more powerful than legal action. Police sometimes view intimate partner violence as a family squabble – one that is often dangerous to the safety of the police who respond to the scene.
  • Her own background of abuse. There is a higher chance the woman came from a family in which abuse was common. Someone with no prior exposure to violence is more likely to leave and seek resolution of the problem.

battered womanWhat Questions do you Ask as an Attorney to Uncover Abuse?

Be aware that a victim will need to talk to you in private and not in front of the person who may be the abuser. Be calm, gentle and sensitive.

Don’t be judgmental in any way and especially don’t chide the victim for allowing herself to be hurt. Take the time to listen.

Here are some questions you can ask. They are the ones healthcare professionals are supposed to ask.

  • Have you been hit, kicked, punched, otherwise hurt by someone within the past year? If so, by whom?
  • Do you feel safe in your current relationship?
  • Is there a partner from a previous relationship who is making you feel unsafe now?
  • Have you ever been pushed or slapped by a partner?
  • Has any partner ever threatened you with violence?
  • Has any partner ever thrown, broken, or punched things?
  • Have you ever been physically hurt or threatened?
  • Do you have concerns for your safety when you leave this office?
  • Do you feel that you have been or at risk of becoming a victim of physical or sexual abuse or exploitation?
  • Do you feel that someone has taken or may take advantage of (exploit) you financially?

It takes a lot of courage for a battered woman to share her secret. You could save a life by asking these questions. Refer the victim to the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE.

Domestic violence is a personal issue with me. After I wrote my article on battered women, I did not think much about the subject. My mother was a nurse who earned a master’s degree in guidance and counseling. She counseled couples in need of therapy. Her husband began throwing objects at the bedroom door when he got angry and then started cutting up her clothes to punish her.

One day he hit her. She went to the emergency department, had pictures taken of her bruised face, and came home to tell him that he had one day to move out. They worked out the terms of the divorce.

When I found out about this, I asked her why she did not say anything about his violent tendencies. she said she was afraid if her grown sons knew about her husband’s behavior, she was afraid of what they would do to him.

My mother was able to get out of this marriage because she had courage, good self-esteem, documentation of her injuries and the ability to earn a living. Not all women are so blessed.

Med League provides medical expert witnesses to trial lawyers. Please call us at (908)788-8227 or contact us today to discuss your next case.

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