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Is someone you know going through a divorce, child custody dispute or another family law matter? Is that person potentially in an abusive relationship? If so, she or he probably needs a little more help and a little more understanding from others.

A recent article discusses how certain myths many of us have regarding domestic violence are damaging to those who suffer from abuse.

  • Domestic violence includes emotional and verbal abuse. Just because friends or family don’t see bruises, it does not mean that abuse is not happening. Coercion, threats, isolation, destruction of personal items and keeping you in the dark about financial matters can all be forms of abuse.
  • Women and children are not the only victims. Abused men are entitled to the same protection as other abuse victims. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that 14 to 29 percent of men in the U.S. (gay and heterosexual) have been victims of “severe physical violence by an intimate partner.”
  • It is not easy for victims to leave. Many do not feel they have a choice because they will not leave their children, cannot afford to leave or are afraid to leave because of threats. In fact, the most dangerous and deadly time for abuse victims is in the days, weeks and months after leaving their abusers.
  • Domestic violence occurs in all social groups. Income, race, religious affiliation nor education level matter. White House staffers, neighbors, doctors, educators and successful and unsuccessful people from all walks of life are capable of horrible actions.
  • Domestic violence is not caused by problems with alcohol, drug or mental health. While these issues can be factors, they are not the cause. Abuse of a child, spouse, partner or another family member is often a learned behavior.

Domestic violence is not the fault of the victim. If you are facing a family law dispute — be it a divorce, separation, child custody or support issue — and your partner has been verbally or physically abusive in the past, seek the assistance of a professional who will help you get safely through this process.