In many situations, domestic violence can go on for years. Since many people living in a domestic violence situation begin normalizing the domestic violence and thus, as it is occurring, many victims do not seek to document the violence through calling the police, reaching out to domestic violence shelters or availing themselves of other resources to help a victim escape domestic violence. In many situations, the victim has spent years rationalizing away the abuser’s behavior, making excuses for it and feeling as though the victim has “caused” their aggressor to lash out at him or her. In some situations, the domestic violence incidents are years apart and thus, the victim becomes apathetic to believing the abuser when he or she says that they have made changes and “it will never happen again.” In many situations, sadly, when “physical violence” ceases or temporarily subsides, it is replaced by emotional abuse, financial abuse and threats/use of fear and potential of harm. If domestic violence is fundamentally about the abuser maintaining a power and control dynamic then each time the abuser acts in a manner that makes the victim believe that he or she could harm, lash out or hurt the victim, the victim is going to be “controlled” by the threats and thus, the abuser is engaging in new domestic violence- or coercion by fear to get the victim to do what he or she wants them to do.
Victims of domestic violence often try to address their spouse’s anger management issues and poor temper and impulse control by trying to constantly minimize the likelihood that the spouse will become angered and triggered resulting in him or her acting out. Many victims try to rationalize away the controlling behavior or will feel (or be led to believe) that the domestic violence that they experience is not serious enough to take action (as it does not lead them to hospitalization for example). Other victim spouses are economically dependent on the abusive spouse and they recognize that even if they have a desire to leave the abusive spouse, they do not (believe) they have the means or ability to make a plan to leave the spouse.
For many, many families, long-standing patterns of abuse are not documented through photographs, police reports and the violent episodes almost never happen in the presence or hearing of third-party witnesses. Given these difficult dynamics and the fear that the victim spouse will not be believed in a court process, many clients will consult with us months or even years before they are actually ready to make a move and leave their abuser.
How Do You Gather Evidence to Prove Domestic Violence?
The types of evidence the court will review and use to validate disputed claims of domestic violence often falls into three significant categories:
-Photographs. This may include photos of injuries, broken items, damaged property (such as holes in the wall(s) and other similar pictures of the fallout from domestic violence. I often tell clients a picture is worth a thousand words.
-Documentary items. This is some type of documentation acknowledging or validating the abuse. In some situations this takes the form of text messages, emails or even apology notes, letters or cards from the abuser acknowledging and/or apologizing for the abuse;
-Eyewitness testimony: this only happens in unique situations but in some cases, a friend, family member, neighbor or other individual has actually seen (either intentionally or inadvertently) abuse or even heard screams or conversations validating the abuse;
In many situations with domestic violence, there is not a single occasion where the victim has called the police, the abuser has been arrested, nor is there a prosecution or conviction for domestic violence. Please do not let the lack of reporting incidents to the police stop you from seeking the life you deserve-a life free from abuse and domestic violence.
What Do You Do If There Is No Evidence of the Domestic Violence?
There are some people who have no evidence at all. They’ve never taken a photograph, they’ve never asked for nor saved texts or other letters or documents verifying the abuse and they have no witnesses of the abuse. All hope is not lost. Often when abusive spouses engage in abuse, they end up becoming smug about it or have rationalized it to themselves to a degree that they will readily admit some of the things that they have done- they simply do not view them as abusive or even wrongful.
If you want to proceed with a divorce or other action to separate from your abusive spouse or partner, call our office today to schedule a consultation so we can help you plan for the future. Call Pingel Family at (816) 208-8130.