So this week sees the end of a three-week family court case that started quite some time ago. Now it’s up to the judge to figure out who is telling the truth, who is making stuff up, what really is in the kids’ best interests and hopefully bring some closure to a very long and drawn out nightmare.
In 2008 a lady packed up her bags, her very young children and left the family home, desperate to get away from her abusive, controlling and emotionally unstable partner. She did so after much anguish and heartache and about a year of careful planning. Her partner is self-employed and that means he stayed home and controlled every element of her life. He answered the phone for her, answered her emails for her, took control of her bank account and essentially monitored every move.
The morning she left he came home and found the note she left behind and figured out where she would likely go first. He went there and broke into the home she was at, yelling and screaming at her in front of everyone (babies included). 911 was called and police arrived. Later that evening, charges were laid.
This was her ex-partner’s third marriage and the second time that we know of that he was charged with domestic related charges against a spouse.
Everyone thought, thank god she’s left him – it’s over. Little did we all realize it was just beginning.
The belief for many, many years has always been that once you leave your abusive partner, the relationship is over and you are free to move on with your life. It’s not quite that simple. Abusive relationships don’t end when a couple separates. In fact, it continues, it’s just that it looks different and the tools the abusive person uses change slightly. Family court becomes the next arena that domestic violent cases get played out in and what a nightmare that can become.
In a quest for equality and fairness, family court has evolved and now appears to have the philosophy that both parents are equal partners. This is fantastic, except in the case of family violence.
Victims of domestic violence are likely to experience a lot of fear and intimidation in dealing with the family court process. This is often used by the abuser to continue the abuse through tactics such as legal bullying, using the children and ongoing financial, social, emotional, physical and sexual abuse.
Some of the post separation danger centers around the fact that the abuser’s behaviour is not recognized. As well, the fear that is created by the threat of violence impacts the ability to make decisions.
From 2008 to 2013, the abuser in the case mentioned above breached his criminal conditions well over 80 times and breached his family court agreement an average of 5 to 10 times a WEEK. No one cared. Go back to family court they said, like that would somehow magically make it better.
When abuse victims report their concerns post separation especially when the concerns center around children, they find that they are not taken seriously.
Post-separation and family court is one of the most high risk times for domestic violence victims. As we push to make progress in the arena of domestic and sexual violence our court systems are woefully lagging behind and hopefully will become an area of change in the not too distant future.
For more information, please visit our website at; http://www.vslg.ca/family-court-support-s160.php