Abuse in marriage
Divorce is always difficult, and not just on those directly involved, but also to family, friends, and all aspects of life. Add abuse to the situation and it becomes even more difficult.
Recognizing and getting out of the nightmare takes tremendous courage. Filing for separation or divorce is a heroic feat for an abused spouse, as the risk of retaliation is great. Typically intimidation and violence escalates. Sometimes a protective order is needed. If there are kids involved, it can become really ugly, especially when the abuser sees the kids as an entitlement.
Then there’s the task of tediously dividing everything acquired during the marriage. A daunting task even for level-headed people. It demands transparency, compromise, integrity and restraint. Not qualities you find in an abuser. When a marriage is abusive, the power balance is so skewed that it may not be safe or productive to even have the couple in the same room, let alone discuss a compromise.
Abuse as a legal strategy
Given an abuser’s tendencies, divorcing one can be like walking through a minefield. Often, the legal process becomes another tool in the abuser’s arsenal — especially if money is no object. The mistreated spouse quickly learns abuse at home gets replaced with abusive legal tactics. It can be a rude awakening and impossible to stop. In order to stay in the game, particularly against an abuser, you need to be financially prepared because running up your legal costs is the opposing side’s strategy to shut you out of the game.
Pursuing your legal rights is expensive and often there is great disparity between what spouses can afford. Commonly, it’s the abuser who has the money and unrelenting drive to escalate and prolong the legal battle. All too often, winning at all costs is the abuser’s goal.
Gathering the required knowledge and support (emotional and financial) can go a long way in protecting yourself in any divorce, especially one involving abuse.