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Protecting yourself and your children from domestic violence

Domestic violence affects millions of people across the country. An escape plan and protective order are some ways to protect against an abuser.

Many couples end up unhappy during their marriages for a variety of reasons. For countless people in Connecticut and across the country, that reason is domestic abuse. Sadly, domestic violence affects millions of people each year. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about one out of every three women will have been victimized by an intimate partner at some point during her life. Domestic violence against a romantic partner accounts for 15 percent of all violent crime in the country.

Creating an escape plan

Ending a marriage against an abuser is rarely easy. Abusers make a point of getting their victims completely under their control so they will be more difficult to escape from. Domestic abuse does not always involve physical violence. Abusers may use emotional, verbal and financial forms of abuse and control against their victims and may also be sexually abusive. Their manipulative tactics may be subtle at first, but gradually increase until they are able to exert control over all aspects of their victims' lives.

Knowing this, how is it possible to get out of an abusive marriage? The National Domestic Violence Hotline has outlined the following steps to create an escape plan:

• Document physical attacks, such as taking pictures of injuries, and keep a journal of the abuse.

• Put emergency cash, clothing, personal belongings, important documents and other items in a safe place that the abuser is not aware of.

• Enlist the help of law enforcement, abuse counselors and trusted family members or friends.

• Obtain a protective order against the abuser.

A protective order gives victims certain legal protections against their abusers. While the order is valid, the abuser is not allowed to contact or go near his or her victim. Violating the terms of a protective order may result in criminal charges.

Termination of rights

Protecting the children is a vital step in leaving an abusive situation. If an abuser is known to be physically or sexually violent, has a criminal history of domestic abuse or refuses to financially support the children through court-ordered child support, custodial parents may be able to have the abuser's parental rights revoked, according to the Connecticut Judicial Branch. This step may provide additional legal protections, as well as shield children from the physical and emotional consequences of being exposed to a violent parent.

If you are attempting to escape an abusive marriage, a Connecticut family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases and protective orders may be one of your strongest allies. In addition to helping you begin the divorce process, your attorney may know about resources that can offer help in getting a new start.