Let me begin this by saying that if you or your kids have suffered domestic violence, I am so sorry.
Domestic violence is an incredible violation of trust, and it’s something so difficult to overcome unless you make the right choices. And making the right choices is hard when you’re suffering ongoing abuse.
I’d like to discuss a few options you have to deal with the abuse you’re suffering. There are no cookie-cutter answers here, so take these options and pick which is best for you and your kids in your particular situation.
Option #1: Call the police.
Domestic violence is a crime, and an abuser should answer for his or her crimes.
Calling the cops will start a chain reaction that might well lead to criminal prosecution for anything from a simple misdemeanor to a felony (depending on the severity of the abuse). If the abuse too place in front of the children, it might include multiple counts of domestic violence in the presence of a child. If the kids were direct victims of physical abuse, charges could include a host of felonies.
(Note: as far as I’ve ever seen, emotional abuse will not result in criminal prosecution for domestic violence. Words, while they can hurt terribly, are not violence under the law. Divorce is the way you handle emotional abuse.)
Option #2: File a protective order.
A protective order is meant to keep you safe and keep your abuser away from you. If you’re abuser violates the protective order, that is a crime and you can report your abuser to the police.
Nice thing about the protective order is it can last forever, so it will keep your abuser away for good (hopefully). The not so nice thing about a protective order is your abuser is still on the streets and not answering for his or her crimes.
(Note: you can always call the police then file a protective order. This is what I suggest people do when they’re victims of domestic violence.)
Option #3: File a child protective order.
If your spouse poses an immediate physical danger to your kids, you can file a child protective order. These are designed to keep children safe from physical or sexual abuse.
One of the drawbacks is you have to meet a very high standard to get a child protective order (much higher than a standard protective order), and they only apply to children. That said, they are a very useful when you’re trying to keep your kids safe.
Option #4: Go to a domestic violence shelter.
Around the state, there are centers that will help those suffering from domestic violence. Doesn’t matter if you’re male or female, they will help you and your kids.
At these shelters, you’ll find food and shelter. They will also help you file a protective order if you would like. They are a wonderful resource.
There Are Other Options
We’ve gone over four, but there are many other options for keeping you and your kids safe from domestic violence.
Do what is best for you in your situation. Please, though, don’t go back. Don’t make your kids suffer through an abusive childhood. They (and you) deserve so much better.