How to divorce an abusive spouse

Getting a divorce can seem like a nightmare for any couple in Kentucky, but for victims of domestic violence, the nightmare is real and even dangerous. It may take a victim years before building up the courage to leave, but even then, outside resources and help will be needed in order to make a clean break.

Escaping an abusive relationship is often extremely difficult. Abusers have usually developed a measure of control and intimidation over their victims that is hard to break free from. This tragically results in many victims not getting the help they need to escape. Fortunately, there are methods of help that are available for those who are ready to leave an abusive marriage.

Abuse affects children for a lifetime, but abuse not always easy to recognize

For those with children, it's imperative to get them away from the abuser and to secure a custody plan that protects them from further damage. According to Safe Horizon, children who are exposed to abuse while growing up can be profoundly affected. Boys who grow up with abuse are more likely to abuse their own partners and children as adults. On the other hand, girls will often become the victims of abuse in their adult relationships. Getting out early and getting children the help they need can break this cycle of violence.

However, it can be difficult to recognize some of the signs of an abusive relationship. Many forms of abuse are more subtle than physical violence, but can be just as damaging. For example, verbal and emotional abuse can wear down the victim's self-esteem until he or she is completely dependent on the abuser and less likely to leave. Emotional abuse can even escalate into physical violence at any point.

It's not uncommon for an abuser to seem charming at the beginning of a relationship, but gradually increase his or her use of control, intimidation, threats and fear. An abuser will often restrict the victim's access to money, family and friends, transportation and communication.

To escape from an abusive situation, a person needs to take several important steps. These include:

  • Creating an escape plan and, if possible, sharing it with someone who can be trusted.
  • Gathering emergency cash, documents, clothing and other belongings and storing them in a safe place.
  • Memorizing the phone numbers and addresses of shelters and police stations.

It can also help to document and report physical attacks, including taking pictures of any injuries. Law enforcement or local abuse shelters can help with getting a protective order if needed.

Contacting an attorney

During this difficult time, you will need resources on your side in your fight to make a safe and thorough break from your abuser. A family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases can help.