October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but awareness should be year-round. And though most think of a “battered wife” or girlfriend when they think of domestic violence, both men and women, and both same-sex and opposite-sex relationships, can experience domestic violence. And while domestic violence awareness continues to grow in the U.S., the numbers do not seem to be dropping. The National Centers for Disease Control has reported that some 40 percent of physical domestic violence is against men, and 50 percent of assaults that involve deadly weapons are against men. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one woman out of four will experience domestic violence at some point in her life; at least 1.3 million women experience violence every year.
“While October is behind us, domestic violence is a daily concern,” says Lisa McDevitt, Fairfax divorce lawyer. “Anyone who experiences domestic violence, regardless of their gender or the gender of their partner, should speak up.”
If an individual is considering divorce, he or she may wish to take the following steps for protection and to ensure the domestic violence is not downplayed during divorce proceedings:
Domestic violence can include emotional and verbal behavior as well as physical assaults. Individuals can report domestic violence to law enforcement and also inform their divorce attorney of any behavior that should be noted. Other sources for support include local mental health departments, which may provide attorney referrals, counseling, and help locating low-cost or free housing.
There may be mental health issues at play: it may be prudent to work with an attorney to request a psychological evaluation for the spouse. Additionally, it is not suggested at this time that both parties attend joint or family counseling. Those settings can be helpful at other times, but when someone is being victimized, the first step should be protection and identification of issues.
Get Children Help
An attorney may request a custody evaluation for any children, particularly is there is a custody dispute or potential dispute. Have the evaluation done by someone trained in domestic violence evaluations and treatment. Request that each child and each parent is evaluated as well as the relationship between each child and parent.