Seeking Legal Aid To Survive Domestic Violence: What You Need to Know

Seeking Legal Aid To Survive Domestic Violence: What You Need to Know

According to the CDC, 41% of women and 26% of men in America experience some form of domestic abuse. The CDC lists four main types under its “intimate partner violence” section. These include physical violence, sexual violence, stalking, and psychological aggression.

The fact that such a high percentage of women experience domestic abuse is depressing. It is a situation that highlights the need for improving mental health and creating a society where abuse is less prevalent.

These days, there are a lot of resources that domestic violence victims have access to. Legal aid is often one of the most important of these resources. It is critical that every victim knows the importance of getting a lawyer and how much they can help a person get out of an abusive relationship.

In this article, we will look at the various factors related to toxic, abusive relationships. We will also look at how legal aid can be helpful.

What Are the Consequences of Not Seeing Help Early?

In an ideal world, victims of domestic violence would not have to stay silent. However, there are a number of complex factors that cause people to live with an abuser.

Financial and other forms of dependence on the abuser are some of the most common reasons for this. More importantly, refusing or delaying seeking help can pose severe consequences. Here’s why.

It Emboldens the Abuser

By failing to hold your abuser accountable, you convey to him or her that they can get away with their actions. Not only does this make them more violent, but it also reinforces their sense of control over you.

Abusers get off on their desire for power and control, and the longer you stay in the marriage, the more they believe that their abuse is acceptable.

It Increases the Risk to Your Safety

If your spouse has been physically or sexually abusing you, it conveys something important. It tells you that they care little about boundaries.

You may think, “They won’t go too far” until they do and hurt you seriously. Many victims continue to remain in a relationship, hoping that they can somehow fix or deal with the abuse. Unfortunately, a physically abusive spouse rarely changes.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline Agency, the chance that an abusive spouse will change their ways is “very low.” Thus, “hoping that things get better” is often a dangerous game to play

It Undermines Your Authenticity in the Future

This is perhaps one of the most unfortunate side effects of not reporting abuse early. There are many people who will accuse you of making up allegations in order to defame or ruin your abuser’s reputation.

There are some who will even gaslight you by saying that if you didn’t report the abuse, it might not have been as bad as you described.

Why Do People Fail to Report Abuse in a Toxic Marriage?

In the previous section, we looked at some of the consequences of staying in an abusive relationship. However, it is also important to know why people choose to remain in toxic and abusive marriages.

They Fear More Abuse

It is often observed that abusers will warn their victims of severe consequences if they were ever to call the police or seek help. Many of them even make death threats to their own spouses, and due to their history of violence, these threats can be convincing. It is understandable why many victims stay silent and even defend their abusers out of fear.

They Fear Not Being Believed

It is not uncommon for the abuser to be cruel to their spouse but be completely normal in other areas of life. Many abusers hold positions of power or are well-liked by the local community. Sometimes, the influence can be strong enough that even if there was clear evidence of domestic abuse, people would prefer to ignore it.

They Are Unclear About How to Report Abuse Safely

This is another common reason why some victims choose to stay silent. It can be confusing to go about the process of reporting abuse in a safe manner. Abusers tend to keep a close eye on their victims and control many aspects of their lives. As a result, it is virtually impossible for some victims to find privacy or the time to reach out for help.

These days, with the increasing awareness of domestic violence, there are multiple ways to discreetly let people know that you are in need of help. One example would be “the signal for help,” a sign that has been widely adopted to convey the message that the signaler requires urgent help.

What Can Legal Aid Help You Get Out of an Abusive Marriage?

Reaching out for legal aid can be one of the best decisions you make as a victim of domestic violence. You will quickly realize that there are a number of ways that legal aid can help you. Let’s look at some of them now.

Assisting With Divorce Proceedings

This is perhaps the most important benefit that you gain from making contact with a family law and divorce attorney. You now have a third party that can communicate with your abusive spouse on your behalf.

This can bring you great peace of mind. The last thing you may want to do is have to confront and communicate with your abuser when you feel mentally unprepared to do so.

Restraining Orders

Once you make contact with a lawyer, one of the first steps to take would be to file a restraining order against your abusive spouse. This will be essential if your spouse is someone that is likely to stalk you and continue to harass you even after you stand up to them with external help.

Gaining Custody

Obviously, you don’t want to have your children live with someone that has proven themselves to be violent and abusive. According to the Family Law Firm of Leon F. Bennet, a court may choose to award sole physical custody to a particular parent if there is evidence of domestic abuse.

A lawyer can help you understand the legal rights and obligations of a parent, which you may not have been aware of. This can help you better prepare your case to gain sole custody of your children.

Contacting a Lawyer: When Should You Start The Process?

Ideally, you want to get out of the abusive marriage as soon as you can. However, situations can be complex, and there can be a number of factors that force you to stay. (Even so, you should be constantly on the lookout for an out.) Contacting a lawyer becomes imperative in a number of situations. However, let us examine some of the most important ones.

When Children Get Involved

If your spouse starts to involve your children, either by abusing them or by trying to manipulate them, lawyer up immediately. Take similar action if they try to prevent you from seeing your children. Try your best to get out of the marriage before things escalate to such an extent.

They Begin To Isolate You From Others

If you notice your spouse isolating you from friends and relatives, it is likely done with the aim of cutting you off from sources of help. You should be hyper-aware of such changes as it may be tough to predict what their plans are. Be wary if they start communicating with others on your behalf.

This may occur in a limited manner at first, such as answering calls meant for you and responding with a misplaced sense of authority. However, it can quickly escalate into them trying to control every aspect of your life.


Domestic violence is one of the worst forms of abuse to endure in a marriage. Sadly, it is often the most vulnerable, such as women and children, that are affected by it.

Many victims are hesitant to seek the help they need due to a lack of faith that they will be believed or helped. Thankfully, the number of organizations that work on helping victims of such abuse is only increasing.

Taking steps toward finding legal aid can be the most important decision you make. It creates actual, concrete change rather than allowing the situation to continue escalating. Filing restraining orders and handling communication are two of the many stressful steps that are handled by a good lawyer.

Remember, if you or anyone else is facing domestic violence, please call the Family Violence Prevention and Services funded national hotline: 1−800−799−SAFE(7233). They provide services of crisis intervention, referrals to agencies that provide legal and other services, referrals to local shelters, and more.

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