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Help Yourself: Practical Advice for People Experiencing Domestic Violence

When we were creating the Help Yourself section for the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance website, we knew most of the entries would be about divorce. Even though we're a full-service San Antonio family law firm, who work on child custody cases and probate law issues as well as divorce, most of the questions we get are about divorce. But we also get a number of questions from people who are experiencing domestic violence, and wanted to make sure we were covering that as well.

Sometimes, we need to specifically address the topic in blog entries, like we did in our most recent blog article about how spousal abuse impacts Texas divorce. But even before getting to that point, people need to recognize that they're experiencing domestic violence -- that it's something named, something that shouldn't be part of anyone's relationship, and something that people can escape. 

We included an article on the cycle of violence, so people can recognize what they might be experiencing. Recognizing what the cycle of violence is, as the article explains, includes recognizing that there's a "calm" or "honeymoon" phase that brings a temporary and false relief for people who don't recognize it as part of a cycle. 

As the article notes, "The abuser apologizes and promises never to do it again. He/she says is all the fault of external pressures and the victim believes, again, it is his/her part to protect the abuser from the world. The victim sees in the partner, the person he/she once thought was there and hopes will be there again. The victim believes this will be the last episode."

When the cycle starts again, this period of calm reveals itself to only be part of a cycle of violence. While the eye of a hurricane is calm, to use a fitting metaphor, there's still another half of a storm right behind it to weather. 

We also included the Power and Control Wheel to give people a better understanding of how domestic violence manifests in a relationship. There's not just one kind of domestic violence that happens; the wheel shows the different ways it can be experienced. The graphic was actually created to give abusers an idea of how their abuse is experienced by their victims, as part of the curriculum for people who are abusers and going through court-ordered education. It's instructive for adults involved in either side of the domestic violence equation. 

Finally, we ask the simple question, "Do you recognize your life?" The questions that follow, from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, use simple language to show the various facets of what someone in an abusive relationship might be enduring, as well as why they might be either choosing to endure or feeling like they have no choice. 

That document also has a few items for people to think about as they're making plans to escape. It's something that requires planning for the sake of safety for everyone involved, especially those people who have children. 

While this is by no means an exhaustive group of articles, it's one that helps inform those who may not even be aware that what's happening in their relationship is domestic violence and is something they can escape. 

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